It’s garage sale time… do you know how to make good money at your garage sale? We make an average of $500 at our garage sales each year following these easy tips for pricing, set-up, and check-out. Missed Part 1 of our Series? Find it here too, and discover great tips for deciding what to sell and where/when to have your sale. Enjoy!
Do Pricing Research on Large Items Before the Sale:
- If you have large items to sell, research local pricing on craigslist, ebay, and even retailer websites like Walmart, Lowe’s, and Target. This will help you establish a fair price and you’ll feel confident holding your ground against “professional negotiators” that try to haggle you. If you don’t sell it at your garage sale, you can always sell it online afterward.
Clean your Stuff
- No one wants to buy wrinkled clothes or things that smell like smoke or dirty garage. Take that few extra minutes to wash the clothes (especially if you smoke). I like to give my clothes a fresh look and smell by throwing them in the dryer for 20 minutes, then hanging/folding immediately.
- Dust or wipe down anything dirty, especially big items. You’ll make more money on them:-) We had a like-new bike trailer that had been sitting in our garage for 4 years. With 5 minutes of cleaning, it looked brand new and we made $30.On the flip-side, I visited a nearby garage sale with a nice microfiber sofa, but it was covered in ??? (vomit, saliva, mystery goo) and they wanted $200 for it. No way. If they had cleaned it beforehand, maybe, for $100.
- If an item is broken or missing a piece, add an extra price tag/sign on that item that says exactly that. People will appreciate your honesty and you just might actually sell it. It also gives shoppers extra confidence buying from you if they know you are honest.
Price your Items to Sell!
- The 25 Cent rule. Try pricing your items in 25 cent increments only. We never mess around with 5-10 cent items at our garage sale because it slows check-out (and over-complicates it). If an item isn’t worth 25 cents, put it in a “free bin” or throw it away. If you’re doing a multi-family sale, be sure to tell your co-sellers this tidbit.
- Price Every Item. No one wants to dig through a box/table of unmarked clothes. Trust me, your system will blow after 2 hours when everything is mixed up and items are in the wrong places. Take the time to mark each item and you won’t have to answer pricing questions every 2 minutes.
- Price your items Low. If you want to make good money, you need to sell high volume. This only works if you price items low and sell many of them. Garage sale shoppers are looking for bargains, not retail or flea market prices. Remember that you will always think your items are worth more than they actually are. Here are my tips:
- Kid’s Clothes: Nothing over $2 unless it’s something like a boy’s suit, fancy dress, or new item with tags attached. Shirts in excellent condition-$1. Shirts in moderate condition-50 cents. Shirts in poor condition-25 cents. Same with shorts. For Jeans in excellent condition-$2. Jeans in moderate condition-$1 or less. Price baby clothes cheaper than older child clothes.
- Adult Clothes: Nothing over $3 unless it’s a brand new item with tags attached. Shirts in excellent condition-$1 to 1.50. Shirts in moderate condition-50 cents to $1. Shirts in poor condition-25 cents. Same with shorts. Jeans in excellent condition $2-$3. Jeans in moderate condition-$1.50-$2.
- Toys: Nothing over $2 unless it’s a musical/light-up or very expensive high-demand item. Most toys at our garage sale were 25 cents to $1. We had a large Batcave with Batman/Batman car and sold that for $5.
- Misc. Items: Price 25 cents to $3. Almost everything at our garage sales are under $3, unless it’s a large or very expensive item to begin with.
- Slightly Overprice Large Items. For large items such as furniture or appliances, price slightly above what you’d actually be willing to accept for it. This gives you some negotiating power with shoppers and you still get the price you really wanted. For example, we priced our bike trailer at $35 and sold it for $30. I only wanted $30 for it to begin with.
- The Make-me-an-Offer. This works well if you have no idea how to price an item or if you’re thinking of giving an item away free. You’ll sometimes get an offer way better than you thought. We had a beater gas grill that was rusted to the guts and sat it on our driveway during the sale without a price (we were prepared to give it away free). A guy offered us $15!
Price at the Same Time
- I suggested in Part 1 of this series to gather all your garage sale items periodically by going through each room of your house. After that’s finished, set some time to price all similar items at the same time–especially clothes. You’ll find a pricing “groove” and can easily keep your pricing consistent.
Get your Signs Up!
- I’d suggest a “Not Responsible for Accidents” sign somewhere easily visible. Remember a “Watch your Step” sign if you have stairs or a bump leading into your garage (like ours). If you don’t have a way to hang clothing (as suggested below) and must fold them on tables, group clothes by sizes & genders, then tape a sign to the table with sizes. Don’t forget your Garage Sale signs! We just use arrows, not our address on these signs. People cannot read small writing and drive safely.
Open Friday & Saturday, Early
- Try opening from 7am-2pm each day, especially Friday. You will likely sell most of your items Friday and be able to close up Saturday around lunchtime:-)
- Prepare for a chaotic opening. It never fails. Never. We open our garage and are swarmed with shoppers within 25 seconds. There’s no worse feeling than having 15 strangers in your garage digging through your items before you have a chance to set everything out. Have 1-2 people setting items out and at least 1 person ready to check-out as soon as you open. Take a deep breath and remember you can continue setting things out even as shoppers are there.
- Use Tables or plastic bins (with the lids on) to display items. Borrow tables, bring out tables from inside your house, and use your patio tables. Many shoppers are senior adults and cannot bend repeatedly to grab items on the ground.
- Hang clothing. The display is nicer, easier for multiple shoppers to look at the same time, and it makes your garage sale look bigger/nicer. Use clothing racks from the store, borrow some, hang a pole between two ladders, have a friend make you some racks, etc… I’ve been known to use hangers from my closets and lay my good clothes on my bed, then hang them back up after the sale.
- Put as much on the driveway as possible so your sale looks bigger. People will stop if it looks big enough to be worth the effort of parking, getting out, and possibly getting small children out of the car. Small looking sale = drive by
- Set up your garage the night before. Park cars in the driveway and set up tables, items in the garage. You can organize them however you want without a crowd watching you. Then simply carry the tables onto the driveway in the morning and you’re done!
- Don’t leave stuff in boxes. This will make your sale look sloppy and shoppers may not feel like digging through them. I mean, who knows what might be lurking in that box and….where did it come from? Has it been in your garage for 2 years? Yuck.
Rock your Checkout:
- Set up an area with chairs, small table, all the grocery bags you’ve been saving, a cooler, and a change box the night before. Don’t forget to put change in your box (we used $60 in change, between quarters, dollars, fives, tens, and twenties).
- Grab your iPad! We use an AWESOME app called Garage Sale Checkout. It’s only $2.99 and well-worth the price. You can enter every sale electronically like a cash register. It calculates totals, change, and even keeps track of sale totals for multiple sellers if you’re having a multi-family sale. You would not believe the compliments we’ve had on this idea.
- Have a box for hangers. You’ll need somewhere to put hangers when people buy all your clothes!
Be Prepared for Negotiators and Kids
- The negotiators are everywhere. We love to hate them, but then realize we do the same thing when we garage sale! Know how you plan to deal with this. We do not negotiate many prices within 3 hours of opening. Tell people you’ll be open Saturday too and they can come back tomorrow to get a deal if it’s still there. We start really slashing prices Saturday around 11am so we can be done by 2pm (we always prefer to be done before lunch, but we’ll stay out if we still have several items).
- The Kids. THE KIDS. They come from everywhere and they are cute, but they will break your stuff, move it around, and do whatever necessary to entertain themselves while their parents browse your sale ignoring them. Ok–some parents do a great job watching their offspring, but many do not. Only put on the ground items you are okay with children touching and playing with. We usually put our cheaper kids toys on the ground on a tarp. The kids find something they want and the parents usually buy it! This keeps kids away from our nicer items.
Have a Plan for Leftovers
- Find a local charity that will pick up your leftover garage sale items. You can call ahead to schedule pick-up on Saturday afternoon when your sale is over. Or simply know their hours of operation and plan to load up your leftovers to deliver yourself.
- You can always set some items by the curb and put a free sign on them. If decent, they’ll be gone by the next day.
- If you plan to keep the items for your next garage sale, have a plan for where you’ll store them.
- Sell larger items online if leftover
Have a Garage Sale Every Year
- Yes! We do this and it’s a great way to keep your house tidy, organized, uncluttered, and make some extra cash toward your savings goal!
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve found this series helpful! Can you tell I LOVE to have garage sales…like a Boss! In case you missed Part 1, check it out here: How to Make Good Money at your Garage Sale- Part 1