yard sale sign

Tips and Tricks for a Successful Yard and Garage Sale

When you’re having a garage sale, there may be different reasons for it, but at the end of the day it’s also to make sure that you get rid of some of the stuff you have accumulated and stored over the years, and where it simply makes no sense to keep it in storage any longer.

To make sure you actually get rid of some of these things and make some money in the process, there are some things you will need to keep in mind including how to display the things you’re trying to sell and to make sure that people are actually showing up for the event too, which means you’ll need to tell people and advertise the event. This includes putting up signs and more, but we’ll walk you through all of that in the article.

By reading these tips, we’re sure that you’ll be selling a lot more. This is the guide that you need to read before your next garage and yard sale so it turns out a success.

sign saying garage sale

Pros and Cons

For buyers, there are also certain pros and cons of going to a garage sale to pick up things for your home. It is where you could find things that would be sold other places for significantly more money, but it could also be the place where there’s just a ton of junk that you can’t use for anything. There’s a lot more digging through the different deals to actually find the stuff that makes sense to buy. Read more about the different pros and cons of going to a garage sale as a buyer.

Pros:

This is where you can pick up things that would otherwise cost 3-10 times as much if you were to buy them at a normal store. If someone wants to get rid of their furniture simply because they bought something new, this is where you can go make a good deal, as they might otherwise just be throwing it out. Traditionally, you’ll probably only find decent quality furniture here, or they might instead try to list the items on classified listing or auction sites instead to get more money for it. At a garage sale, stuff needs to go.

If you’re trying to save money, but there’s still stuff that you want to buy, checking out garage sales in your area is just great.

Since it is a place where people need to get rid of their things, and preferably fast, it generally also means that there is room for negotiation in the noted prices. If you offer to buy several things at once, ask them if they can bundle things together into a better deal, and most homeowners will simply be happy to get rid of more stuff at once. At most stores you can’t negotiate with the employees there unless you’re buying a big ticket item, but here you can.

Even if you  are not looking to buy anything, only if you get tempted, it’s a good way to spend a Saturday outside looking through piles of things that can be bought very cheaply, and if you happen to find something cool, that’s just a bonus. Here are some cool things that were bought at a garage sale very cheaply. You even get some time outside.

If it’s a yard sale near where you live, you could even just go there to meet your neighbors and get a better relationship with them. Here are some great tips to open up the conversation and get to know them better. Especially if you’re new to the area, it may be nice to meet your neighbors. They can actually even get quite a few people coming by from the local community if the weather is nice, and chances are then that you don’t just meet the neighbors having the garage sale but also that you get to meet others.

stones balancing

Cons:

There are also some cons of going to a garage sale instead of going to a traditional store. For example, you often get what you pay for. It means that you can’t go there and expect to find super luxury products, so if that is what you are trying to get, then you should consider going to a traditional store instead.

You need to be careful with the stuff you buy, since you’re buying it from a stranger, in a yard. While a lot of people want to honestly get rid of their things that might still be working, someone might be trying to pull a trick on you too, and you should therefore only pay what you feel comfortable paying, knowing that the given item could break the very same day.

It is not the place to go if you have a very specific thing in mind with minimal time. It’s where you go when you have enough time on your hands, and simply want to keep your options open. Some people like the experience of going through stuff for hours while only finding a very small thing, while others can’t stand it. It’s up to you if this is the right place for you or not.

How to Have A Successful Garage Sale

people highfiving

When you’re the one throwing trying to get rid of your things, you should keep the following things in mind, and properly execute on all of them. It could be a lot of hard work, and if the weather is bad, you might not get nearly as many people showing up as you’d like. While it’s a possibility that you do all of these things getting nothing in return as your things just don’t sell, it’s simply something you will need to know about the process.

The way you organize the things for sale is crucial. The things that are for sale should be arranged nicely, while the things that aren’t, should be kept inside the house. You will also make sure that you’re only putting out things that are in fairly good condition. They don’t need to be in perfect condition, but things that are too damaged should not be included or it could simply scare off buyers because they start believing all the things are in bad condition.

To make it easier for buyers, the different things should be arranged in sections which will make it easier to find the things that they want. All your kitchen things should be in a specific box.

All the things you’re trying to sell should be cleaned properly before being displayed. If you were the buyer, you would not want to go through someone else’s boxes just to find a pan that wasn’t cleaned properly the last time it was used. People going there know that they won’t be expecting perfect condition, but at least they don’t want to be going through last night’s dinner.

Start advertising the event a couple of weeks before to make sure people have enough time to mark it in their calendars, and preferably during a time of the year when you expect the weather to be good. In the subsequent sections, we’ll walk you through how you can better market it.

The same way that you want to price a home sale right for it to sell fast, this is also the case with yard sales. People go there wanting to buy things at low prices, and not everyone is ready to aggressively negotiate. You should also make sure that you know what your bottom prices are for the different objects.

You should put some effort into making it an inviting place, and that could include music, benches, decorations or more.

Yard Sale Sign Ideas

yard sale sign
Picture from Pinterest

Signs are very important for advertising yard sales.  The one above will definitely draw attention and be noticeable, which is what you want. There is no point in putting up signs if they don’t draw eye balls. The good thing is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can simply go online and find other people’s signs and copy them.

Here’s another sign that indeed is very honest.

yard sale sign

Besides coming up with the right designs, you will also want to make sure that they’re installed so that they’re as visible as possible, and where people are actually coming by. Needless to say you can’t just legally put them up anywhere, as there are rules against that. Make sure to check what the rules are in your community

One of the good things about the signs above is how easy they are to read and how you can’t avoid seeing them. Their colors are bright and the text is nice and big. There’s no question about what they’re advertising either, although the second one doesn’t actually say it’s a garage sale.

You will also want to make sure they’re of a certain quality so that they don’t simply fall down if there’s a little bit of wind. They could be made from plastic or cardboard, although the disadvantage of cardboard is obviously that if it gets wet, it could not be so sturdy anymore.

When the day comes, you will want to either install signs pointing people in the right direction or leave the address, if it wasn’t on the initial signs.

Intersections are often where people tend to see these signs since they stop for a brief moment when the light is red, which is when they’re likely to have enough time to actually notice them. The more eye balls, the more people going there on the actual day.

Make sure that you make a map of where you put the signs, so that you can take them down when the event is over. You don’t want to be known as the person who put out the signs but didn’t remove them afterwards and just left them out.

How to Price Items

empty price tag

Pricing the things you’re trying to sell is an important aspect of the garage sale to actually get rid of these things. With a price too high, you just won’t sell them and you’ll either be forced to throw them out or put them back in storage in your home. You don’t really want to have a second garage sale just because you priced the things too high.

While it’s difficult to accurately tell you what each item ought to be priced at, you can get an idea by going to someone else’s garage sale. According to Best Garage Sale Tips, you should expect to be pricing things at somewhere between 10-20% of what they would be sold at at retail.

Garage Sales Tracker recommend these prices, which is pretty consistent with the recommendation of pricing it at 10-20% of retail price.

recommended prices at garage sales

Anything that has actual value will obviously be priced higher too.

Advertising

How do you go about advertising a garage sale? That’s what this section will walk you through.

You can use Craigslist for advertising. Here is an example of a garage sale listing. Be sure that the information is clearly marked so people will be able to find it. On the listing, they also marked the prices of all the various things that are being sold to encourage people to get curious even before they get there. It is especially a good idea to do with the things that you’re hoping to get more money for.

Your local magazines or newspapers may be free to advertise in for a thing like this, and you should at the very least see if it’s the case or not.

We already mentioned the importance of signs. This is how you will make sure a lot of locals will actually see it. Craigslist ads will only be seen by people actively looking there.

Put the things up on Facebook and other social media too, which includes finding relevant groups where others are buying things from.

Safety

While you want to sell your things, you also want to make sure that everything goes down safely, and it’s therefore an advantage to read through these steps below. There are certain safety precautions you can take.

Your own safety is obviously the number one question, and if you ever feel threatened in the situation, you will need to act appropriately. Do not feel afraid of calling the police if you don’t think you can handle the situation yourself. That is also why it’s best to make sure you’re not the only person there. Have a friend stay there during the entire thing, if possible.

It’s very inconvenient to have kids running around the yard sale, when you’re trying to close a deal so try to see if it’s possible to have someone else look after them during the time.

If you have things that you do not want others to touch until they actually buy them, put up signs that say so. If you only accept cash, you should also have a sign that says so, just to make sure there’s no confusion.

Make sure that you are allowed to have a yard sale with the rules of your local municipality, and what processes they recommend. You can also contact the police prior to having it so they’ll know about it.

It’s a good idea to always have your phone on you during the yard sale in case something goes wrong and you need to call someone quickly. In the heat of the moment, it’s better to be prepared and know how to handle the situation effectively.

You can leave most of the money inside. What is actually outside on you needs to be limited.

Watch people that come and be on the lookout for suspicious behavior. There are going to be bad customers that you can’t avoid, but watch out for their body language so nothing turns unpleasant.

While a lot of the things sold there will be very cheap, you want to make sure that you secure the things that are actually worth something significant. If you need to go inside to get more change, there should at least be one person outside watching, whom you know and trust.

Try talking to your friends and neighbors and suggest that you have a garage sale together. You’ll both be getting rid of the stuff in your garage that you don’t want, and it’s safer too for both of you.

At a yard sale, safety should be a priority! Click To Tweet

What Not To Sell

There are good things to sell at a garage sale, and then there are the ones you shouldn’t try to get rid of there because there simply might not be any buyers.

A buyer can obviously buy what they want, but there are just some things that are better to not buy used.

These include makeups and fragrances, which could be contaminated in one way or another as well, or simply have deteriorated in quality over time.

You don’t want to get furniture that has be upholstered. You don’t want to be carrying bed bugs and other nasty pests back to your home.

Things that have potential sanitation issues, which could include baby bottles and personal objects.

If you are selling shoes, they should be in very good condition. No one wants to find a pair of smelly and worn shoes in the middle of all your things.

Mattresses need to be thrown out when you are done using them. They potentially have bed bugs in them, and you don’t want that. Besides bed bugs, there’s a whole other section of nasty creeps and bacteria that could be present in them.

Swimsuits have been in contact with your personal areas, and while they may seem in good condition, they should not be sold at a garage sale anyway.

A helmet may look good, but the truth could be different. There are things that could cause a helmet to deteriorate, which just means that it won’t be able to sustain the impact it was made for.

Where to Start

confident woman

You can approach your garage sale pretty systematically. There are certain steps that need to be taken.

The first thing you will need to do is obviously to find the things that should be going up for sale. Go through your old things and be honest with yourself with regards to whether they’re still serving a purpose or not.

Cleaning the things you will want to sell is the next step, and throw things away that are in bad condition.

If something can be repaired, you should do your best to do so before trying to sell it. If it’s a collectible item, you may not want to try and do repairs anyway, as it could lower the value. These are some of the collectibles that could actually be worth money.

Make sure that you’re legally permitted to do the garage sale, and if you need to get a permit take the necessary steps to get it, so that someone doesn’t come and complain on the day it’s supposed to take place. You want to apply for it as soon as possible to make sure you have it in time, and it is therefore also important to find out when you’ll be having the garage sale and setting aside a day, especially if you’re doing the sale together with a neighbor.

On the day of the event, start preparing everything in a timely manner. You want to have everything ready by the time the event is supposed to start, and not 30 minutes after it should have started. It is not very professional if people decided to take time out of their day to go there simply to find out that you weren’t ready.

Have a backup plan if it rains. It’s not ideal, but it could happen. Where will people go? Is there enough space in your garage for a sudden burst of rain, and how do you get all your things in there to avoid them getting ruined? Make sure to check the weather forecast on the day.

Best Things to Sell

Some things will sell better than others, and we already walked you through some of the things you should try avoiding to sell at a yard sale. There are other things that are very popular at a yard sale.

These include toys, electronic items that aren’t outdated, office equipment, tools and more. As we’re headed towards an era without DVDs, there may still be people buying them, but they’re becoming fewer and fewer.

If you have fashion magazines, lightly-worn clothes, good quality shoes, quality bags these will generally be more appealing to women. While you may not be able to sell your old magazines, at least it’s worth a try, and then someone else gets some benefit from them before they’re probably thrown out for good.

If you had a baby, there are things, unlike bottles, that can actually be passed on. You could keep them until someone close to you gets pregnant and then give them to them, but if you’re not counting on that happening or simply do not have the space to keep these things, try selling them and making some money instead.

There are still a lot of people out there that like the physical feel of having a book in their hands, and you could get a couple of dollars for a book by selling it. It won’t make you rich, but if you don’t believe you’ll be reading it anyway, might as well let someone else get the benefit of owning it instead.

Clothes of good quality, or branded ones, could in fact sell at a garage sale, but make sure you only display stuff that is actually in good condition. If it is in worse condition than the stuff at the thrift store near you, it probably won’t sell.

Negotiation Tips for Sellers

woman on the phone

To prepare you better for the negotiations that will inevitably be happening, here are some suggestions you need to take into account to make you a better negotiator.

Both sides of the deal want to be the winner in the negotiation, but you also have to remember that you might want to get rid of your stuff more than the buyer wants to buy it.

We mentioned the price you could possibly expect to get for your stuff. You’re the one determining what you believe is a fair price for the object, and you should try to stick to that price, unless it’s more important that everything just goes.

If you have something that you believe could be worth money, start researching it. If it looks fancy, or if it’s a nice painting, go online and find out if it’s an important painter. You just might have hit the jackpot. If there are names on the pieces you’re trying to sell, you should go to Ebay and see if others are selling comparable pieces.

When you have set the price, and you think that it’s fair, you should communicate that with conviction. If you start apologizing, people will see it as an excuse to keep pushing you, and you could end up getting taken advantage of.

When your negotiations have hit the absolutely lowest price you want to sell something for, say you can’t go further, but only say it when you mean it. You should, however, be ready to justify your price even if you haven’t hit your bottom price yet. By researching the different things you’re selling, you’ll be better able to tell people that the price tag you put on it is fair.

And finally, don’t be afraid to say no and simply not make a deal, if you truly believe the customer isn’t being fair.

How to Display Clothing

People will equate presentation with value, so something that is nicely presented will also likely end up selling for more. Therefore, the better it looks as well not being too damaged, the more money you make. Displaying clothes isn’t hard.

Use one of your existing clothing racks or make your own. It will keep everything looking nice and neat, and especially if you have nicer pieces of clothing, this is how it should be displayed. Also make sure it’s sufficiently sturdy and won’t just collapse as soon as someone touches it.

clothes rack

If you choose to display things in piles, at least do so nicely. Make sure everything is properly folded so it doesn’t look like a mess. Put it either on a table or a shelf,  but in a way so that the appearance is nice and appealing.

How to Make a Clothes Rack for A Yard Sale

To properly display the things that you want to sell, especially if they’re clothes, what you can do is make your own clothes rack and display things on there so it’s not just lying in a box with no order to it. The guys at Sapling came up with an excellent guide on how to make one yourself.

How To Post An Ad on Craigslist

craigslist

We mentioned how you can post your garage sale on Craigslist, but how exactly do you go about it? It’s free to post there and a lot of people are visiting the site every single day, which is why there could also be people interested in going to your garage sale.

The easiest way to find the Craigslist page for garage sales in your area is to go here. If the search doesn’t already show your location specific page, simply add your city to the search.

When you have done that, go ahead and visit other listings to see what information they chose to include, and make yours similar to those, but preferably better.

To start creating your listing, go to the top right corner and pres this button.

Craigslist button

At the bottom of the page you’re taken to, it says “event/class”.

event button

Click this option as that is where you will find the “garage sale option”.

garage sale button

And you will be taken to a page where you can fill out the listing.

garage sale listings page

Here it’s important that you fill it out accurately, and you’ll be able to pick up to 3 days, all of which need to be within the coming two week period. When you’re done, simply submit the listing and verify the email that you’ll be receiving to have it posted. It’s that easy to create a garage sale listing on Craigslist!

Where To Advertise

There are many free places where you can advertise your garage sale listings, besides just Craigslist. Here’s a quick list.

These sites are not mentioned in the order of popularity, but simply at random.

How to Write an Ad

Writing an ad for your garage sale does not need to be hard. Simply think about the things that you would want answered yourself. The ad, however, is crucial to get right. You saw earlier on how much it can do to make sure that you make signs that are easy to see.

From the previous sign, you saw how the “Our crap could be your crap” sign clearly caught your attention. That’s because the headline is enticing in one way or another. Whether you like it or not, you couldn’t ignore it. Spend time coming up with a headline that catches people’s attention.

The biggest mistake is to write a good ad without including where the garage sale will be going on – then all your hard work will be in vain.

Provide as much information about the different things you’re selling as possible, to try and catch someone’s attention, and especially if you can do it in a creative, funny way, however, make sure that the ad is also precise.

You should have a list of the main things that you’re trying to sell, and then include the categories too where you’re not listing each single item, such as tools for example, or books.

Take good pictures of the things. Go through the Craigslist listings and see which pictures catch your attention and try to find out why that specifically is, and try to include those aspects in your own photos.

How Much Change to Have

We mentioned during the safety section that it’s best not to have too much change outside, but how much should you keep there?

A good rule of thumb is to have about one hundred dollars worth of change. Having a good amount of coins is good if you have smaller things, and it’s always good to have a lot of one dollar bills. If you go somewhere and take out money, you’ll only be getting fairly big notes. If you’re the seller needing to break a twenty dollar bill, you’re very quickly out of change. The more smaller bills you have, the better so breaking a twenty doesn’t become a problem.

If you run out of change, you should be able to get more from your house, or you may miss out on a sale.

Anyway, we hope that this article has given you a better understanding of what it takes to host a successful garage sale.