This post contains affiliate links.
Thinking about garage sale? There are many things to consider before starting one.
A garage sale is an excellent opportunity to clean the garage and sell or donate stuff you no longer need. You can make a profit or organize a charity sale. Read how to plan and execute garage sales and what to sell and not to sell, and how to make the most money from garage sales.
We also look at which items bring in the most money during the garage sale and how to deal with people haggling.
Why Have a Garage Sale
Most people have garages full of stuff they no longer need. Organize a garage sale and make some money or have a charity sale for a good cause. You give back to the community and keep your garage clutter-free.
Before the sale, you can clean your garage, and when the sale is over, you’ll have a nice, tidy, and organized garage. It’s also a great time to upgrade the garage to storage solutions such as wall systems, cabinets, shelves, and overhead storage. When the garage is empty, installation is a breeze.
Involve your family when you decide which items to sell, keep, donate or throw away. When every family member is involved, the job goes much faster. You don’t accidentally sell something that has a lot of sentimental value. It’s also a great way to teach kids that sometimes you need to let go of stuff so others can benefit from them.
Do You Need Permission for Garage Sale?
This depends on where you live. You might need a permit before the garage or yard sale. Some states require a permit only if you plan to hold several sales per year or to have them regularly. If the permit is required. The cost is usually minimal. The price of a fine can be very high if you are operating without a permit.
Before you decide to have a garage or yard sale. Research local, state, and federal laws, taxes, and permits. Always check your local requirements.
If you live in an HOA community, check with the board about garage sale rules and regulations. Many HOAs don’t allow garage sales at all or have strict rules about timing, duration, location, and other aspects.
In some countries, you have an obligation to check if any items you sell have been subject to recall. This is if you are selling items meant for kids, such as toys, car seats, cribs, playpens, or highchairs.
If you sell in the USA. The federal law regulates the safety of items sold at yard sales. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) strengthened requirements on manufacturers and sellers of consumer products to ensure that the goods they sell are safe.
The interesting part is that CPSIA applies to manufacturers and primary sellers and resellers—and a garage sale merchant falls within that definition. Therefore, individuals holding yard sales are legally responsible for the products they sell under the CPSIA.
Lists of recalled items are available on manufacturers’ websites or the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
If you find out you have a recalled item, do not sell it or give it away. Instead, explore returning it to the manufacturer for a refund. Even if you can’t, you wouldn’t be a good neighbor or person if you passed on a problem item to an unsuspecting customer.
Organizing a Garage Sale
Having a plan for how to organize a garage sale makes things go smooth and hassle-free. Preparation might take a while, but it’s definitely worth the trouble.
Think about the items beforehand. Sentimental people can find it difficult to let some things go. Childhood toys, fine furniture or appliances, and kids’ clothes can be hard to let go of if they have been around for decades. Keep in mind you or your family don’t really need some stuff anymore, and they just collect dust and waste space.
Try using the one-year rule. If you or someone else have not used something in a year. Sell or donate the items away. You can, of course, keep special items but make sure they have precious value to you or someone else.
Getting Ready For Garage Sale
Get enough tables, boxes, and racks beforehand to showcase the items. If you don’t have enough at home, you can borrow them from friends or rent them cheaply at many places. Get all the equipment ready a few days before the sale. Borrow or rent cash box too and payment terminal for charge cards.
- Talk to your neighbors beforehand to warn them about noise and parking.
- Have enough packaging material like newspapers and bags.
- Check the weather reports.
Offering/selling coffee, water, beverages, and soft drinks are good for business. Maybe let your kids handle the selling of these. It’s a good way to keep them occupied and let them earn a little money.
Empty the pockets, wash the clothes, and clean and dust off every item you sell. No one wants to buy dirty objects or stained clothes.
Group clothes by size and gender. Put the more minor trinkets on the table where they are easy to see. Put books on shelves so people can scan the titles. Put the large items in the driveway where people notice them indeed passing by. It’s also easier to load big things on a car from the driveway.
- Have a mirror near the clothing!
- Test the electronics and appliances that they work and see all the necessary parts are there. (If you have instruction manuals, put them with the appliance. If not, tell people you can find them usually online.)
- Have an extension cord(paid link) or outlet nearby so you can demonstrate the appliances’ work.
- Check the toys have all the parts too. Ask your kids if any parts are missing. They will know.
- Put damaged stuff you are going to throw away in the “free items” bin.
- You will get a better price if the items look good—Polish furniture, except if they are antique. Very old stuff is best to keep original and let the buyer handle the cleaning part.
Prices and Organization
Get stickers and tags to mark prices down. It’s easier for you and the buyers. You don’t have to remember the prices, and customers don’t need to ask constantly.
Sort items by price. Keep all the similar price range items in one box or shelf. For instance, all the books, clothes, trinkets, etc., can have boxes, tables, or shelves worth $1-$10. You decide. For big or unique items, use individual tags. Make sure the labels are easy to see, so people don’t have to search for them.
Place the item by area too. Low price area and medium etc. Having things organized by price makes it easier for people browsing and some people can have a spending limit in mind.
Keep the valuable items near your checkout or have some people selling them exclusively. You can also place the items in see-through bins. The old aquarium is great for this. Consider selling valuable items beforehand online. You’ll get a better price.
You probably won’t sell everything with a price tag. This is a common occurrence at garage and yard sales. Consider donating unsell objects to charity.
- Advertise the sale in your local neighborhood
- Make signs(include guide info) and post them around the area.
- Talk to people and ask them to spread the word on their social media. Leave information in nearby stores and community bulletin boards.
- Use all your social media sites to spread the word.
Directions and Hours of the Sale
Expect people who aren’t from your area to visit your garage sale. This is especially true during national holidays and sporting events when people travel to see their relatives or visit big games. Make guide signs and put them around your area.
Leave detailed directions on all the flyers and social media on how to find your garage sale. Luckily nowadays, almost everyone has a navigator on their smartphone. But it’s best to leave instructions and a map also on paper too on flyers.
Be explicit when the sale will start and when it will end. Include days and hours. No one wants buyers too late or too early knocking on the door.
Haggling and Dealing With People
Some people are merciless bargainers and want to drive the price down as much as they can. If you are not used to it, stay calm. Be firm with your price, and don’t give in to their persuasion too soon.
The fact they are haggling tells you that the item is worth something. Some people just enjoy the bargaining and haggling. If you think the price is reasonable is OK to accept a lower price. But if you think you will get a better price. Wait until the last day of the sale or better offers before giving the discounts.
Know how much your stuff is worth. Search google for rare items beforehand to see the value of the object. Or things you suspect might have more value.
Be alert for shoplifters and scams. Common tricks are distracting you when an accomplice steals an item or changing the price tags. If you are going to have a large sale. Get some people to act as a security.
Don’t let anyone into your house to use the bathroom. Keep the doors locked. Keep water and beverages outside and point them to the nearest gas station to use the toilet.
Throw in freebies for people who buy lots of stuff, which builds goodwill among customers who are watching.
Keep a close eye on your cash.
Day of the Sale
Make sure to start early at 6 or 7 a.m. Temperatures are lower, and you catch the early birds. And be ready for the big day. Have enough sleep at night and remember to eat and drink lots of liquids during the day. Be friendly and keep yourself available as much as you can. Have people helping if you have lots of items to sell. Don’t be pushy with the sales. Good luck !!
What Is the Best Time to Have a Garage Sale?
The best time to have garage sales are weekends and especially non-working and national holidays. Also, significant sporting events or community gatherings will drive a lot of foot traffic in the area. The added surge of people will be an excellent help to your sales.
- Leave one weekend to not attend those events and make a profit and clean your garage. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Keep in mind too many people get money at the end of the month and have disposable income the first weekend of the month.
- During special holidays, you also have more time to organize the garage sale event, and potential buyers have time to visit your garage sale. Keep in mind that some sales can last the whole weekend.
Charity Garage Sale
Have you considered a charity garage sale? Furniture, old clothes, old toys, sporting equipment, bikes, automotive parts, electronics, and appliances can have a new home when they are up for sale or donation.
Ask a couple of weeks or so beforehand friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors for donations. Ask people from social media too. Tell them you are organizing a big charity sale and you need donations. People are more likely to help and contribute if they know the money will be going to a good cause.
It’s a great way to give back to the community and keep your garage and home clutter-free. You can donate all or a percentage of profits to a charity of your choice or let the customers vote which charity will win at the end of the sale.
Get flyers and information about different charities so people can familiarise themselves with the organizations. Answer any questions as you sell and keep yourself available as much as you can. Better yet, get people to help. Some can help with the selling, and others can just give info about the charities.
When the sale is ending, drive the prices down to help sell everything and get as much money to donate as you can. If you can’t sell everything, remember you can donate many things to causes like the salvation army.
What You Should and Should Not Sell At a Garage Sale
- Garden Tools
- Power Tools
- Fishing Equipment
- Vintage Dishes & Glassware
- Sports & Exercise Equipment
Do Not Sell
- Used Shoes
- Used Beauty Products or Skincare
- Broken Electronics
- Broken Appliances
- Used Undergarments
- Dirty or Worn Down Clothes
What Sells Best At a Garage Sale?
- Americana Decor
- Kids Clothes
- Vintage Dishes
- Fishing Equipment
- DVDs, Blu-Rays
- Old Video Games
- Picture Frames
- Costume Jewelry
- Camping Gear
- Exercise Equipment
How to Make Most Money From Garage Sale
Pricing depends a lot on the area you live in. The condition and quality of items and if they are rare or still in style. Do Google searches and know the value of your stuff.
According to the New York Times, you can make anything between $500-$1000 from a carefully planned garage sale.
Sell special items online. You’ll get more money for sure. Specialty items are sought after and will get a higher price than the standard stuff. These can be Americana decor, brand names, antique, vintage, collectibles, and rare or old items.
Visit other garage and year sales to see what the typical pricing is. Take notes and place similar prices on your own sale.
Don’t price any of your items more than 10 percent of the retail value. If you have quality items in good condition, you can try to get 20-25 percent. These are the general rules. Try to make money with quantity.
Always end your prices in 5’s or 10′s. It’s easier for customers and for you. It’s standard garage sale pricing. Kids selling lemonade can learn math at $.25 prices. Make it a game to them to try to get some cents more.
Price the brand clothes and stuff about 30 percent of retail value and in a separate area.
Learn also how people haggle and bargain. Sell more to make more.