Stephanie Nelson | 

How to Have a Successful Garage Sale

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A garage sale can be an awesome moneymaker and an easy way to spend a few hours. Or, it can be a chaotic headache that leaves you exhausted and saying, “Never again.”

The difference? Your strategy for set up, advertising, and tearing down. You’ll also want to consider your garage sale pricing (not everyone thinks that old lamp is as valuable as you do) and the best time to hold a garage sale in your neighborhood.

No matter what odds and ends you’re looking to move, if you are aiming to have a successful garage sale, I’ve got the tips you need to get there. Keep reading to declutter and make some cash while you’re at it.

And if you want money-saving hacks sent straight to your phone, make sure you download the Krazy Coupon Lady app.

Garage Sale Pricing Tips

1. Use the 10% rule for garage sale pricing.

Aim to price everything at no more than 10% of its retail price. Of course, you can make your prices lower than 10%, but never higher. It’s sort of an unspoken rule among thrifters.


2. Seems obvious, but list clear prices for everything.

A table of clothing at a garage sale with a sign marking them as $1 each

Nobody wants to have to ask you about pricing, even if you are the most wonderful person on the planet. Maybe they don’t want to wait around for you to be available, or maybe they just aren’t interested in the item enough to take the time to ask. Make it easier for them to buy by putting price tags on everything and hanging very clear signs listing prices. Do what you need to so they can just grab it, and hand you money.



3. Price items slowly over time, not all the day before!

Set yourself up for success by doing your garage sale pricing little by little. Maybe when you decide to include an item, that’s when you put a price tag on it. Pricing things takes a lot longer than it seems like it should, so definitely don’t save it for the day before your sale.


4. Do your garage sale pricing in $0.25 increments to simplify giving change.

Bins at a garage sale with price signs on the going up in 25 cent increments

This is a corner-cutting tip to make it so you don’t have to dig under couch cushions to find pennies and nickels in order to make change. When you price items in increments of $0.25, you just need a roll of quarters (and a bunch of one dollar bills) on hand before the sale and you’re ready to give out change.


5. Offer bundle pricing instead of selling everything individually.

Tables of items for sale at a garage sale and signs advertising their prices

Sell four books for $2 instead of making them $0.50 each. It’s the same thing, but for some reason, our minds can’t help but see more value in a higher-quantity purchase. Take advantage of that!


6. Use apps like Venmo and Apple Pay to accept plastic and make more sales.

A person holding up a phone displaying a Venmo payment screen

Who even carries cash around anymore? Okay, maybe you do if you’re trying to keep yourself on a budget. The ol’ envelope system. If that’s the case, you do you, but realize that most people coming to your sale may not have cash on


Venmo is the best option here. Apple Pay is another idea if both you and your buyer have iPhones. You can go with PayPal, but it can be tricky to ensure the transaction is free.

Remove any opportunity for headaches and obstacles in order to sell as much as possible.


7. Prepare your negotiating strategy ahead of time.

Just like people will ask you to hold items, people will also ask you to come down in price. It’s inevitable. Decide before your sale what your negotiating thresholds will be. Which items will you budge on? Which ones will you be firm about? This way, you won’t be put on the spot and make a rash decision in the moment.

More Garage Sale Tips

8. List your garage sale on Garage Sale Finder for free.

Garage Sale Finder is a website where you can both list and search for garage sales in your area. Avid garage salers sign up for email newsletters and they’ll get a notification about your garage sale.


9. Advertise your very best items online.

Some furniture for sale at a garage sale

List all your big ticket items, including furniture, online ahead of time in order to build hype and show that your sale is worth visiting. Heck, if you can sell some of those things before the sale begins, even better. Include your email address or phone number in your listing. One year, I sold $200 worth of stuff before my garage sale even began!

Here are three great places to list your best items:

Related: Best Online Thrift Stores


10. Be specific in your online listings and include brands and sizes for clothing.

A lot of kids clothing brands, like Gymboree, have a loyal following. If you mention brands and sizes instead of simply “boys and girls clothing,” you’ll get more foot traffic at your sale.

Same goes for any media you’re selling. Books, movies, etc. should include titles, authors, and anything else you can say about them. If you can attract someone to your sale for a certain brand or item, maybe they’ll buy other things while they’re there.


11. Post physical signs pointing to your garage sale.

A Garage Sale sign on a curb with an arrow pointing to the right

No school like the old school. It’s true, physical signs work. Hang them within a mile radius of your garage sale and make sure all the signs look identical so people can follow them to your sale. Also, write just a few words, and make the words big and legible from the street.


12. 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.


13. Run a Friday night sale instead of Saturday morning to attract non-early birds.

Saturday morning garage sales are fine, but what’s even better? Friday night garage sales. You can do this in the form of a “pre-sale,” which means you’ll be running your garage sale on Saturday as well. Or just have the sale on Friday night and call it good.


14. Start your sale at the advertised time.

A garage sale sign.

I’m not saying we garage salers are a ravenous lot, but I’m also not saying we’re the most patient people around either.

Fair’s fair. If you have people circling your sale like sharks in the water, but there’s still thirty minutes before it starts, make them wait. This especially holds true if you have specific items listed online. Someone may be driving to your sale for a certain item and will be upset if they get there on time, only to find all your best things are gone because you opened early.


15. Use a fanny pack instead of a metal box to keep your money close.

Just imagine, you rock your garage sale. You make hundreds of dollars from what you considered yesterday to be trash. You’re just about to close up shop when you notice the money box is gone. And not gone, as in you set it down somewhere else and forgot. Gone, like stolen.

It happens way more than you think it would. Way more than it should. So, ditch the box and go with a cheap fanny pack instead.


16. Just say no to holds.

People will ask you to hold something for them so they can run home and grab 10 more dollars to pay for it or for some other (usually understandable) reason. You have to say no to these requests. Why? Because most likely, they won’t return. And in the meantime you’ll lose out on potentially selling the held items.



17. Selling your couponing stockpile? Be smart about it.

Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, personal care items, stockpiled into a cupboard.

Yes, it’s totally legal to sell your stockpile. But there are some huge dos and don’ts. For example, you can’t use branded logos to advertise your items. And there are things you need to know for tax purposes, like you have to report any earnings over $400 to the IRS.


18. Sell bottled water and individually packaged treats.

Lots of people let their kids do a lemonade stand at their garage sales, and I’m not against this. But if you want a low-pressure option that’s also a little more sanitary, consider having a cooler full of water bottles and a basket of chips or crackers for sale near the checkout.



19. Encourage impulse buys at check out.

A table of knick-knacks in a garage sale

If it works for Walmart, Target, and every other big retailer, why can’t it work for you, too?

Set up an area with small, cheap items that people can toss into their haul as they check out.

You could also stick a basket of items under $1 on the checkout table for them to browse as you’re calculating their total.


20. Make everything free for an hour after the sale ends.

A box of free stuff at a garage sale

Hate dealing with the leftovers from a garage sale? Me too. It’s honestly what keeps me from doing sales more frequently. Who wants to lug all that stuff back into the house after you already got it all out?

Definitely wait until the advertised sale is over, but when it is, post on Craigslist that everything is free until a certain time of day. And let them know that you want it all gone.


21. Or schedule a donation pickup for larger items.

Places like Goodwill offer house calls to pick up big items like furniture. But you may have more luck with local thrift stores and charities. For example, in Idaho, we have the Arc, which will pick up really anything you want to donate, not just furniture.


22. Look into whether you need a garage sale permit.

A person sitting at a table looking at a laptop computer.

It’s doubtful you need to worry about this on your first garage sale. But if you do them often, you may need to check into whether you need a permit of sorts. For example, the state of Idaho allows two garage sales in a calendar year. Any more and you have to register as a temporary retailer and get a permit.

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