7 Strategies for a Successful Garage Sale

Updated: May 3

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Whether you're downsizing to a smaller home or finally tackling those closets, a yard sale is the perfect place to offload your clutter. You'll not only get rid of unwanted clothes, books, and toys, you'll also make a quick buck in the process. Not to mention making the move substantially easier if you’re selling your home!


To maximize how fast your castoffs fly off your lawn, here's some advice on how to run a successful yard sale.



1. Get The Word Out

Craigslist may be a go-to, but you should check out some different sites to spread the news. There are some very useful sites out there to advertise your sale. As a reminder, repost your sale a week ahead and the day before.



Going the old-fashioned sign route? It pays to invest in a sturdy oak tag rather than lightweight construction paper for your sale signs—they'll stand up better to the elements (wind, drizzle). But don't post them to telephone poles or trees, as some city ordinances prohibit signage without a permit. Instead, attach signs to wooden stakes and poke them into the ground the day before or early in the morning of the event.


2. Arrange For Change

You need money to make money! Gather plenty of singles, five-dollar bills, and quarters—and don't forget a calculator. If you're selling big-ticket items like lawn equipment or sporting goods, have some larger bills on hand, too. Set up your till in an old lunch box, or wear an apron with a deep front pocket. Be ready to start selling on time—or even early. If your sale is slated to begin at 9 a.m., you might get a few early birds at 8:30 a.m., hoping for first pick.


3. Price it Right

You'll drive yourself insane if you try to slap a tiny sticker on every single thing you own. Instead, save time by grouping similar items together and then pricing the whole section.


For example, a table with books can have one sign that says hardcovers $1, paperbacks 50 cents. Clothes can go for $1 per piece, and so on.


Everything needs a price, however, so that you don't end up fielding questions all day. But how much should you charge? Typically, items sold at garage and yard sales are set at a third up to a half of the price you paid for it new. You can also price items by the bundle (3 for $1, say) in order to get rid of multiples in one smooth sale.

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4. Lure 'em In

Got a weed whacker, almost-new bike, or a full set of patio furniture? Place it right up front, either at the end of your driveway or on the lawn's edge. This way, passers-by can easily see these larger things and may decide to pull over. Then set up the rest of your wares in an organized fashion.


Arrange dishes and small items on folding tables, line up books with spines in the same direction, and hang clothes on a collapsible coat rack or clothesline strung between two trees.


5. Negotiate Nicely

You want the stuff to disappear, so be reasonable when it comes to lowering prices. If you're asking $5 and the offer is $3, it's easy to say $4 and be done with it. Of course, there are times to stick to your guns. For example, if you know your practically new wheelbarrow is $65 at Home Depot, don't be swayed by hagglers trying to offer you less when you're already giving them a deal.


Say you’re hosting a sale and you know your prices are fair, don’t haggle first thing in the morning. Most of the time, very early buyers could be dealers (antiques store owners, eBay sellers) looking for bargains to mark up and sell for a profit. So if someone wants to haggle right away, you could just say the prices are firm, but you may lower them as the day goes on.

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6. Mark it Down, or Make it Free

Remember, you don't want to haul any of your stuff back into the house, so think about filling a big box labeled “free.” (Looking at you, mountain of Beanie Babies you thought would be profitable if you kept them). Spur sales by creating a “gift with purchase” table.


For every $25 spent, let the buyer pick an item for free, or wrap some up as ‘surprise gifts' with purchase and let the buyer choose one. As with the early birds you'll have before your sale, you can probably expect folks toward the end of the event looking for last-minute bargains. Be prepared for this by slashing prices in the last hour or two.


7. Offer Drinks

This isn’t a frat party, but if it's a nice warm day, a cooler of sodas or water is a nice touch. At $1 a can, you might make a small profit on the beverages and you'll entice people to hang around a little longer, not to mention keep the screaming kids at bay. If your kids are in the right age range, let them sell cookies or brownies alongside the drinks. Putting out a trash can is a good idea too, for cups, napkins and other debris that tend to collect around sales.

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-Nico Roensch - Realtor at Rieckmann Real Estate, Inc. - Fox Valley, WI

©2020 by Nico Roensch Real Estate