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Garage Sale before your Move?

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Having a garage sale takes work and can be extremely frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing. To avoid any headaches and to streamline the process, follow a plan from beginning to end. A well-planned garage sale often means a more successful one, which means more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

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Planning Your Garage Sale

Pick a Date

The first step is to choose dates and times for your garage sale. Most people go with Saturday and Sunday mornings, but you can add Thursday to a multi-day sale if your schedule allows. You’ll get a larger crowd if you start early because people won’t have to interrupt their day to attend your sale, and it’s likely to be cooler out which is an important consideration especially in the heat of summer.

Gather Your Goods

Garage sales offer a great way to declutter your house and save money on your move. Grab a box and go through every room. Pick up anything you don’t want or haven’t used in months and toss it in. Don’t forget closets, attics, basements, and garages as these are usually treasure troves for garage sale finds. Don’t underestimate the value of what you find either; people will buy anything from old CDs to unwanted clothes and toys. After all, the worst case scenario is that something doesn’t sell.

Advertising Your Garage Sale

Create a Newspaper Ad

If you want to drive major traffic to your garage sale, fork up the money to pay for an ad in your local newspaper. But before you write your ad, find out how much space you get for the price you’re willing to pay. If you go over, you’ll end up paying per word, which can get very expensive fast. Keep your ad short and pointed, and list your biggest ticket items first. The most popular garage sale items include furniture, kids’ toys, and collectibles. Don’t forget to include your address as well as the dates and times your sale will run.

Advertise Online

There are dozens of websites where you can advertise your garage sale for free. Post an ad on as many as you want, but aim for at least three.

For example,


Yard Sale Search

Garage Sale Hunter

Community Message Boards

Social Media

You’ll have plenty of wiggle room in the text of your online ad since most websites give you a generous word count. Simply tell people what you have and when your having it, and let their own imaginations work out how wonderful it is. Posting pictures of your items helps attract attention too. Also, don’t post your ad too early. If you’re holding your garage sale on Friday, it should go up Wednesday night or Thursday afternoon.

Make Yard Sale Signs

Check the laws in your area before making garage sale signs as some places have banned them. A clerk at your local police station can tell what you can and can’t do. If you are allowed to make signs, we suggest using brightly colored poster boards and a thick Sharpie. Make sure your sign says “Garage Sale” large enough for people to see as they drive by. Include your address or an arrow pointing towards your house.

Prepping for the Sale

Get Supplies

Make sure you have everything you need at least a day before the garage sale starts. You’ll need chairs to sit on, a table or other flat surface to take payments and provide change, and plenty of areas to display your goods. Don’t waste money on renting or buying tables. You can find or make enough surfaces to suit your needs. Gather up all of the card tables and patio furniture for placing breakable items on. For clothes, you can use a garment rack or hang them on hangers off the top of your garage door.

Don’t Forget the Change

Odds are, you’ll have to make change for $100 for your first customer. Make sure you have twenties, fives, ones, and at least twenty dollars in quarters. You can get them from your bank, but you’ll have to go inside a branch to do it.

Sort Your Items

Sort before your price. It’s the easiest way to keep your garage sale organized and make it easy on potential buyers. Dedicate areas and divide all of your items by category, such as clothes, books, home goods, and kids’ toys. If you have a lot of clothes, divide them by men’s, women’s, and children’s.

Price Your Items

It’s best if you price your items individually rather than just group them into boxes with one price sign. As the garage sale progresses, people will get the boxes mixed up and you’ll have a hard time keeping it organized. To price items, just use a roll of tape and a Sharpie, which is a lot cheaper than going out and buying fancy price tags.

Organize and Arrange Your Sale

Arrange your tables and put all the clothes on hangers the night before the garage sale. No matter what you tell yourself, you won’t have enough time to do it in the morning. Arrange everything the night before and store it in the garage for safekeeping. Map out where everything will be placed to make the morning setup as easy as possible and to keep it in a logical and organized fashion for customers.

Throwing Your Garage Sale

Get Ready

Give yourself at least an hour before the garage sale starts to set everything out and put up signs. Make sure you have your change in a safe place, and find a comfortable, shaded area to sit. If your garage sale is hard to spot from the street, place a yard sale sign in front of your house so people know where to stop.

Work the Crowd

In an ideal world, a garage sale would work like Costco. People would come in, grab what they wanted, pay, and leave. Unfortunately, people see garage sales as a sort of interactive shopping experience. They’re going to ask questions, they’re going to haggle, and they’re going to pick up everything, especially if it’s breakable. You’ll do better if you don’t act pushy. Just stay seated, shout out a friendly hello when people walk up, and let the customers come to you.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to haggle right away. Don’t let your couch go for five dollars with the first customer. Odds are that someone else will come along willing to pay your asking price. Position your chair so that you can easily spot people walking up and make sure you greet everyone.

Deal with Leftovers

You’re going to have leftover stuff. You can just put it all on the curb with a free sign, but that won’t get you any more money. Instead, consider taking the leftovers to a Goodwill store or local charity and save on your taxes. Make an itemized list of everything you have with its original value. Once you drop it at a donation center, ask for a receipt. If you have large items left over, like a couch or a TV set, consider selling them on Craigslist.

Final Word

Garage sales are a lot of work, especially if you’re not used to holding them. You’ll probably spend several hours organizing and pricing items, writing ads, and getting your supplies. But after it’s over, you’ll hopefully have a wad of cash instead of piles of stuff you don’t want, which makes it all worthwhile.


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