How to Make Good Money at your Garage Sale- Part 1

How to display folded kids clothes at a garage sale

Want to discover how to make good money at your garage sale? These garage sale tips have helped us ROCK our sales and we make an average of $500 each sale! Chances are, you’ve been to your share of garage sales and have  had one (or two, or several) yourself. It’s a fantastic way to make money on items you don’t need and save money for items you do need. We hate clutter in our home and are always saving toward a goal each year. This has been a perfect combination for having an annual garage sale and putting our profits toward our savings goal. This year, we’re saving for a Walt Disney World Vacation!

We’ve had 7 garage sales in the past 8 years. We made $370 our lowest year and $750 our highest year. Overall, we average about $500 per garage sale (we earned $520 last weekend). We’ve learned quite a bit from our own experience. Now friends and family often call me to help when they have sales or need help with pricing. This is an EXTENSIVE list, so I’ve broken into a 2-Part Series. Need Part 2? How to Make Good Money at your Garage Sale- Part 2

1. Make a Savings Goal: 

  • What are you using your garage sale profits for? One year, I was starting a new job and needed new work clothes, so I used our garage sale profits to purchase a new wardrobe. This year we’re vacationing at Disney World (again!) so we saved our garage sale profits for the trip. Make your own savings goal and you will be more motivated to go through with it. You will also be more motivated to get rid of items you don’t need.

2. Find your Best Garage Sale Location: 

  • If you live in the boondocks (no offense to country folks), no one is going to visit your garage sale. I doubt any amount of signage will garner the crowd you need to make real money and make it worth your time. Find a family member or friend who lives in town and ask to be part of a multi-family sale at their place. You’ll get much more traffic, make more money, and you’ll have a fun weekend with your friends.
  • Make sure ample parking space is available. If you live on a busy highway or major thoroughfare, many of  your potential customers will likely drive on by. Parking is essential.

3. Set the Right Date for your Garage Sale: 

  • Most neighborhoods have an annual garage sale in the Spring or Fall. If your neighborhood does not, check a nearby community to see when theirs is, then do yours the same time. Neighborhood and community sales bring a steady stream of traffic and you may not need to sign your garage sale so much, especially if there are 10 other sales in your neighborhood that weekend. We have our garage sale during our annual city-wide sale in May. People come from 1-2  hours away each year for this event and the city streets are usually packed all weekend with shoppers.
  • Plan to be open on Friday and Saturday. Be prepared to make most of your money Friday between 7am-2pm. Each year we make 80% of our money on Friday. We take Friday off for this. It’s worth a day of vacation from work. Friday is when your serious buyers visit garage sales. Saturday is when your browsers visit garage sales.

4. Save your Grocery Bags: 

  • Save every plastic bag from your grocery store trips and use them as bags for customers at your garage sale. I have a cabinet in my kitchen devoted to storing plastic bags and I save bags for 6-9 months prior to my sale. This will make your customers very happy campers and will make it more comfortable for them to purchase several items from you. I have literally seen people put items back if the seller doesn’t have a bag. Shoppers may be walking up the street to visit several garage sales and cannot carry everything in their hands. We ran out of bags one year and never made that mistake again:-)

5. Use Tags:How to tag clothing at a garage sale

  • Buy garage sale stickers and tie on tags to price your items. They are too cheap to not use. I’ve seen garage sales us
    e masking tape to mark items and I wouldn’t advise that for a few reasons: the tape residue doesn’t come off items easily, it might actually damage an item, and it looks sloppy (please forgive me if you’ve done this–I’ve had to talk myself out of it a few times).
  • Use stickers on miscellaneous household items. Put the sticker on a spot where the seller can easily remove it without causing damage to the item.
  • Use tie on tags on clothing (through the clothing label or belt loop) when possible. If not possible use a sticker and place the sticker on the inside-back of the clothing item (where the size label would be). This is very important. Stickers will fall off if you place them on the outside of a garment. Many people have actually complimented me on my sticker-placement at my garage sales. I know it’s weird and kind of dumb, but most people don’t think about the stickers falling off clothes.

6. Create a Place to Store Garage Sale Items:

  • Before you begin purging all your old stuff, find a place to store it all until the sale day. Going through your home will likely take weeks, and you won’t want a huge pile of garage sale stuff staring at you the whole time. I usually find some empty bins or space in my garage and use that for storing items until the sale day. When I run out of bins, I stuff items in trash bags and put them in my garage. This keeps my house clean and removes the overwhelming feeling of being swallowed by piles of garage sale stuff for weeks. If you don’t have a garage, store items in a room you don’t use much. If you don’t have room in your garage, you NEED to sell most of that stuff! :-)

7. Be Ready to Work: 

  • You probably know that having a garage sale is a huge pain in the butt. YES! Definitely. But it’s so worth it in the end. Your home will feel cleaner, will be easier to clean, you’ll have a more peaceful home when it’s less cluttered, and you’ll make significant progress toward your savings goal!
  • Having a garage sale is a workout. I don’t need to workout at all 3 weeks leading up to my garage sale. There’s lots of bending, reaching, standing, squatting…you get the idea:-) Be ready to sweat as you’re going through rooms finding items to sell, as you’re pricing, as you’re setting up, and as the sale goes on. It’s a fun way to stay in shape!
  • Make time to relax after the sale is over…you’ll be wiped. We always order pizza for lunch on garage sale days and have leftovers or sandwiches for dinner.

8. Set a Good Example for Your Kids:

  • By setting a savings goal (and letting your kids know about it), you are showing them how to set goals and be disciplined in achieving them. They will feel your excitement and will be more eager to get rid of their own old toys and clothes when they are part of that goal. Our kids happily parted with some dear items this year for the bigger goal of Disney World.
  • By finding items to sell you are showing your kids how to maintain a clean, uncluttered home. You are also modeling how to set boundaries and detach from items in a healthy way.

9. What to Sell at a Garage Sale:

  • Go through every room in your house. Try doing 1 room per day and give yourself 1-2 hours per room. Go through every bin, box, drawer, shelf, cabinet, closet. Look at each item and use the tips below to decide if you should sell it.
  • The 7-Second Rule. If you can’t put an item away or find a place for it within 7 seconds, think about selling it. If you simply cannot part with it, create a place for it.
  • The 1-Year Rule. If you haven’t used it within the past year, sell it. This goes for clothes, dishes, and other items in your home. Unless it’s an item that has sentimental value, you don’t need it if you haven’t used it within the past year. If you didn’t wear that sweater last winter, you won’t wear it this one.
  • The No-Fit rule. This goes for decorations and clothes. Decorations don’t “fit” if they add clutter to a room, are too big, or too small. Less is more with decorating and less decorative items  will make your home look & feel bigger. It will also create a more peaceful space. Sell clothes that are too tight, too small, too big, or too old. You and your kids may need to try on several clothing items to determine if they “fit” or not. Don’t save clothes that are too small unless you plan to lose the weight within 6 months-1 year. If not, they might be out of fashion by the time you can actually wear them again.
  • The No-Play rule. If your kids haven’t played with a toy within the past 6 months, consider selling it. They will assure you they “Love it and will play with it all the time now!” but trust me, they won’t. I fell for this trick last year and let my son keep a toy from the garage sale he promised to play with. He never turned it on once past the sale. Kids are excited by things that seem new if they’ve been hiding in bottom of a bin for a year. If they didn’t find it in the bin over the past year, chances are it will end up there again and not be played with again.

10. Enlist Your Kids to Help:

  • Require your kids to help you go through their bedrooms and toys. Remind them of the savings goal. You may consider letting them keep profits from their toys that sell and let them set their own savings goal. This will excite them and make parting with toys much easier and fun. It also teaches important life lessons about goal-setting, discipline, and sacrifice.
  • Let your kids help with check-out, organization, and clean up at the sale. We often let our kids take the money from customers, hand customers change, hold bags as we put items inside, and organize toys during the sale. They love being involved! This teaches social skills and we honestly sell more when we have cute kids as personal “advertisers.”

These tips will get you started! Check out How to Make Good Money at your Garage Sale-Part 2 for several more tips, including pricing, signage, setting up, and an awesome app we use to simplify check-out (coming later this week)!


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  1. says

    Thank you! What great ideas! I haven’t had a garage sale for a long time, but I need to. Our city recently had theirs and I wish I had been on the ball enough to take advantage. Maybe next year!! Smiles!
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    • Mrs. Saver says

      City garage sales work well. Our city garage sale is normally on Saturday, but we’ve always done the best on the Friday before.

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