Top 10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

I love the idea of having a garage sale. It’s the implementation that freaks me out. My awesome friend Kelly from the blog Kansas City Mamas is sharing today her 10 best tips to having a successful garage sale. Reading this definitely soothed my freak out – hope it will for you, too!

Garage Sale.

These two words can either bring extreme delight or extreme dread into the hearts of many.

But since the average garage sale can bring in around $400, it is a great way to turn your unused items into money for “summer fun” items like pool passes, camps, or vacations.

And being a garage sale aficionado (meaning I have either hosted or attended enough garage sales to know a good sale from a bad one) – I have my top ten list of ways to a successful garage sale.

1. Do it all in one week.
Cleat the clutter. When you commit to preparing for the sale in one week – you become uber-focused on purging and selling.

2. 12 Month Rule.
If you haven’t used it in a year (or your kids haven’t played with it in six months) and don’t LOVE it – consider it garage sale material. I’m not saying sell Grandma’s tea towels – but consider selling a lamp or muffin tin that hasn’t been used in awhile.

3. Commit to the “no return” philosophy.
Make a resolution that once something goes outside, it will never return to your house. The goal of the garage sale is to de-clutter and make some money – make the commitment and you will actively sell your items.

4. Price to sell.
Price your items 15 – 30% of retail depending on condition and “timeliness”. Items two to three years old should be priced at 15 – 20%. Items less than a year old – around 30%. A mauve lamp from 1985 is not worth $10 regardless if you paid $40 for it new. Also, price items in $.25 intervals – less hassle for change and only accept cash.

5. Good signage.
Make sure there are signs with arrows to your sale on major streets, down your street, and to your house. Buy big poster board – list key items like furniture or baby clothes on the sign. Also, list your garage sale with Craigslist. I usually don’t buy an ad in the paper unless it is a big sale or there are five families having the sale together.

6. Make it easy to shop.
Move items out into your driveway (especially big items – they draw people in), put a price tag on everything and lay all items out on tables by groups. No one wants to hunt the owner down to ask how much something costs.

7. Be friendly and out-and-about.
You open up a dialogue when you say “Hi” to each buyer. That openness will make it easier for the buyer to ask about an item or attempt to make a deal. Offer to hold items or put items in a sack while they shop.

8. Offer discounts when buying in bulk.
If someone is going to take all the girl 3T clothes – let them know you are willing to give them a discount. This little tactic encourages people to buy more items and means more money per transaction.

9. Slash prices at the end of the sale.
At the end of the sale take the price stickers off everything and offer “Fill A Bag for $3” or “Everything a quarter.” It is surprising how many items will sell. (And less you have to pack up to donate.)

10. Donate the rest.
Put the rest (hopefully just a few items) in boxes and donate it that day. Don’t wait till tomorrow to drop it off! The longer you wait, the greater the chance those boxes will make it back into your house. Also – make sure to ask for a receipt for tax purposes.

Anything else I missed? Are you a garage sale junkie? What makes you buy at one garage sale and pass at another? Leave a comment and let us know.

Kelly Snyder is the author of Kansas City Mamas – a website devoted to living well by saving more. She is married to her best friend (Hubs) and is the stay-at-home mama to DS (8) and DD (6). In addition, she believes that life is too short for bad coffee, wine or food (but not necessarily in that order).


  1. Great post.

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