Heather Wheeler | 

15 Genius Garage Sale Tips and Tricks to Make More Money

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I love spring cleaning season, which involves cleaning out the house and gathering items for a garage sale. Whether you call it a yard sale, tag sale, or stoop sale, these clever ideas will help you make the most of turning your clutter into cash.

Having a successful garage sale takes some work, but with these tips, you can draw the crowds, make some money and keep your sanity.


1. Use apps like PayPal to accept credit/debit cards and make more sales.

While most people who are shopping garage sales know to carry cash, they may be budgeting themselves by limiting their cash.

Push their limits and broaden their horizons by accepting credit and debit cards — especially if you have something expensive you want to sell.

Download free apps like PayPal. If you transfer money from PayPal directly to your bank account, you won’t be charged any transaction fees. Or you can use Apple Pay between iPhones using a debit card. You won’t be charged any fees unless you’re using a credit card, then the merchant will be charged a three percent fee.


2. How to price garage sale items. Hint: price by category to keep it simple.

People don’t want to wait around or have to guess to find the price of an item. Make your asking price obvious for your customers.

It helps to price items by category to keep it simple. For example, make all clothes $3.00 and all books $1.00. For anything more expensive, mark it with an obvious price tag. Plus, get more advice on garage sale pricing.


3. Set up impulse buy items near the checkout area.

You know how every store lines the way to the checkout counter with smaller items that can easily grab your interest like gum, magazines and treats? Mimic this with a table full of small low-price objects to encourage people to keep shopping.

You could also stick a basket of items under $1.00 on the checkout table for them to browse through as you’re calculating their total.


4. Playing soft music in the background encourages shoppers to spend more.

There’s actually a scientific study about this. People who spend money on unplanned purchases tend to buy more when there is music in the background.

Set up a speaker and a Spotify or Pandora playlist and you’re all set.


5. Advertise the best items you’re selling when you promote your garage sale.

Craigslist and Facebook are both great places to get the word out about your garage sale. List the big-ticket items or popular brand names you’ll have for sale to draw in more people. Check out our list of the 50 best things to sell to make the most money to get ideas for what will draw people in.

If you include an email or phone number, sometimes you can get early offers — I sold $200 worth of stuff before my last garage sale even began!


6. Organize your sale like a department store.

Put similar items together so when people are looking for something in particular, they know exactly where to look. Then if they don’t find what they’re looking for, maybe they’ll find something better.


7. Have the kids set up a lemonade stand.

Why not get the whole family involved? Get the kids to open a lemonade stand or sell bottles of water for $1.00 apiece. You’ll keep the thrifters happy and your kids will love earning money along with you.


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8. Grab more attention with signs around your community.

Catch the eye of people driving by with eye-catching signs directing people to your garage sale. Try to make them all uniform so they’re easy to follow (and don’t blend in with other garage sales’ signs).


9. Set up a “free” box and advertise it.

A great way to grab people’s attention is to advertise that you will have a box of free items at your garage sale.

These can be odd and ends like small kids toys, kitchen utensils or even random clothes. When people see the word free, they’re going to show up — just be sure to make it known that it’s only while supplies last.


10. Have enough change ready before the sale starts.

You don’t want to make people wait for you to find quarters so they can buy a $0.50 T-shirt with a dollar bill. If they have to wait 10 minutes for you to dig change out of your house, they’ll probably just move on to the next garage sale.


11. Start slashing prices toward the end of the sale.

Start cutting prices about an hour before your sale ends. A great way to do this is to sell everything 50% off the marked price. Make sure you make a sign for this so it’s obvious to the shoppers.

TIP: Donate anything you have leftover to a charity so you aren’t storing a bunch of stuff you don’t want.


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12. Presentation is everything — make sure everything is washed and laid out nicely.

It might be easy to just throw everything in a box for people to dig through, but people will be much more willing to spend money on used stuff if it looks like it has been taken care of.


13. Start your sale on Friday to catch more thrifters.

If you can start on Thursday evening, go for it — but at least try to get the party started Friday. That way you can catch people on their way to drop kids off at school or on their way to and from work.

This also gives your sale more time to be seen so more people will stop by.


14. Consider donating some of your proceeds to charity.

Consider donating the profits of the sale of, say, a furniture item or expensive but rarely-worn piece of jewelry to the local Relay for Life benefitting the American Cancer Society. Place a poster near the item briefly explaining the organization and how/when the money will be donated.

The money, of course, won’t be in your pocket, but this helps people think about your garage sale differently and may give you the opportunity to make a large contribution to a favorite charity you perhaps couldn’t have made otherwise.


15. Offer free donuts or cookies at your sale to generate more customers.

People are more likely to approach a garage sale when they see delicious goodies. It puts people in a friendlier mood and make them more willing to make a purchase.


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