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How to Have the Best Garage Sale

Turn Junk Into Cash By Having a Garage Sale


Getty / By: Linda Hides

Having a garage sale is not hard to do. All it takes is some time, a few organizational skills, a tad of marketing and you will be on your way to turning your junk into cash.

Power in Numbers

Ask friends and family if they would like to participate in a group garage sale. You will increase your chances of attracting buyers by having a wide selection and inventory. Everyone can split the cost and the legwork of advertising the sale, plus it's more fun.

Pricing Your Items

  • Take the time to clearly mark every item that you will be putting into your sale.

  • For similar items, such as paperback books, it is acceptable to put up a sign with one price-point. Example - All Paperback Books - 50 cents each!

  • Use quarter-dollar pricing increments to simplify calculating the payment process.

  • Generally, figure around one-fifth of the retail price for items that are working and in good shape. For items only used once or twice, or those that were never used, you could get one-third of the retail value, depending on the item.

People Love BOGO Sales

A BOGO stands for "Buy One Get One" and it is used in retail stores to entice customers to purchase multiple items. It works the same in garage sales. Books, videos, baby clothing and records are good items to include in this type of pricing structure and people love getting something for free.

Clean and Fix It

Not many people want to buy dirty things. You will want to clean and fix the items you place in your sale.
  • Load the dishwasher with all the glassware you plan to sell and you will be amazed at how much more appealing it becomes when it sparkles.

  • If something is in need of a minor repair, go ahead and repair it.

  • For leather items like handbags and shoes, buff them with leather cleaner.

  • Run your clothing through the wash then neatly hand press or briefly iron over them to make them crisp and appealing.

  • Dust furniture, vacuum upholstery, clean spots, clean and freshen drawers.
It may sound like a big job, but it is worth it. In fact, often after we clean or fix something, we decide to keep it.


The saying, "Build it - they will come," doesn't work for too many garage sales. Do not expect people to just find you. Real bargain hunters start checking the newspapers early to plan their route. Most newspapers post weekend garage sale advertising at a lower cost than the normal classified fees. You will want to make sure you are included in this section of the paper the day before and the morning of your sale. You will probably be charged per word, so it is a good idea to think up what you want to say before calling the paper.

Remember the Important Points

  • Date and time of your sale.

  • Your street address.

  • If it is a multi-family or group sale.

  • If you live in rural area, offer directions, a landmark that your home is near, or the color of your house.

  • A brief run down of specific items you will be selling such as, baby clothing, toys, arts and craft supplies, artwork, furniture.

  • Use the name-brand items that are in big demand, like, BabyGap (size 2t - 4t), or Ethan Allen furniture.

Signage Tips

When putting out your street signs, select the high-traffic areas of your neighborhood and around the streets that will guide the people to you. Also, flimsy construction paper is not very effective for street signs, especially on rainy or windy days. A good piece of thick cardboard cut from a box, spray painted in a unique color, with your address, and sale hours printed large enough to read, will bring the people to your door.

Merchandising Your Items

Garage-sale hunters like to feel like there is a lot of nice stuff for them to choose from, so take the time to think out how and where you will place things.
  • Avoid putting items in boxes on the ground. Not too many people will bend over or kneel down to dig through it.

  • Hang clothing like dresses, suits, skirts, blazers, coats and jackets.

  • Designate a table for folded clothing. Include sweaters, t-shirts, jeans, and select baby clothing.

  • Sheets, draperies, blankets, and bedspreads should be neatly folded. Use a pretty ribbon to tie grouped items together and price as a set.

  • Place your most appealing items within eyeshot of the street so people driving by can see them.

  • If you have sets of dishes, display all of them out. Avoid putting one plate with a note telling the visitor that there are more. Seeing is believing, and they will want to inspect each piece.

  • Tools, lawn equipment, workout benches, etc., will appeal to both men and women, so place them in a high-visible area.
Group your items - toys with toys, clothes with clothes. Think about the setup of your nearest Wal-mart and section things similarly.
Next > Preparing the Final Stages of Your Garage Sale

More: Before You Buy or Sell Used Merchandise

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