Are you getting ready for a garage sale and don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve run garage sales that are a complete waste of time. Having held many garage sales over the years, I consistently make $1,500 each sale (with the multi-family sales I participate in totaling $3,000 – $5,000!). I am going to share this ultimate beginner’s guide for a successful garage sale so you can start making money on things you no longer need.
In This Article
I have been shopping garage sales pretty much my entire life. In 2015, I took my love for garage sales and made it into a business of buying at garage sales and selling on my vintage Etsy shop, Our Vintage Bungalow.
For the past ten years, I have participated in yearly (and sometimes twice a year) multi family garage sales. Every single sale I make $1,300 – $1,500 dollars, and the total for all families is $3,500 to over $5,000 per sale! I do sell some leftover items from my Etsy vintage shop, but most of this amount is from selling items we have decluttered from our home. (Why would we have so many things to sell every.single.year? Well, kids outgrow clothes and toys. We decide to quit using certain household items. Aaaaand, junk apparently just collects magically.)
In 2023, I decided to help others save money by shopping garage sale deals for their everyday needs and also selling their unused items at garage sales for extra cash. This ultimate beginner’s guide for a successful garage sale is a compilation of blog posts teaching how to have the most successful yard sale possible.
If you would like to go deep into any of these tips, click on the heading for an in-depth post for each topic.
Yes, there are top popular items that consistently sell at our yard sales. However, don’t discount that random item you’ve found in the back of your cabinet or that vintage dresser that needs refinishing. People search for all kinds of items, and you don’t know until you try selling something! The worse case scenario is that it doesn’t sell, and you end up donating it.
Read in depth Top Items to Sell at a Garage Sale HERE.
- Clean it well
- No holes, tears or stains for clothing
- Electrical, battery operated or items with a motor be in working condition.
- Nothing that looks “trashy”
Exception: Antiques and vintage items can look “junky” or “rustic” since there is a market for this and is expected in some cases.
When you have purchased something new, it’s hard to sell it for a fraction of the price. But please remember, this is NOT a store. Even if an item is still in the box, it’s not “new.” Price items fairly. But you also don’t have to give things away. See my general price guidelines below.
Also, it is very important to use price tags that are clearly visible and stay on each item. I have created a free garage sale price tags printable that you can customize with your own initials. Not only are these very inexpensive price stickers, but they STAY ON the item by using name brand Scotch tape. I have used these in the rain, and though the color fades, I have NEVER had one fall off.
Finally, price every single item. This is a pain in the rear end when you have a bajillion baby clothes, but it is so much easier for the shopper than a price list. And if you are having a multi-family sale (as I suggest further down), it is imperative to price things with the individual’s initials on each item.
Read in depth How to Price Garage Sale Items HERE.
Garage Sale Pricing Guideline
- Baby and kid clothes $0.50 – 3.00
- Kid and adult books $0.50 – 2.00
- Toys $0.50 – $10.00
- Outdoor toys (bikes, water table, Fisher Price slide) $5.00 – $25.00
- Household linens (sheets, curtains, rugs, bedding) $3.00 – $10.00; $15.00 – 25.00 for comforter sets
- Bath and Kitchen towels/linens $0.50 – 4.00
- Household appliances $5.00 – 15.00; name brand can be a little higher
- Household décor (lamps, shelves) $5.00 – $15.00
- Medium size furniture in good condition (chairs, coffee tables, nightstands) $10.00 – 40.00
- Large Furniture (beds, dressers, couches) $$75 – $150.00
- Small tools (hammers, screwdrivers, non-power tools) $1.00 – $7.00
- Small power tools (in working condition) $15.00 – 40.00
- DVDs and Games $1.00 – 4.00
Have a Multi Family Garage Sale with as Many People as Possible
When I see a few tables out on a driveway with one family’s meager offerings, I think, “Oh, how sweet” right before I drive by. Why do I drive by? Because I can typically see everything for sale in one slow pass in my car.
BUT if I see tables and tables loaded with various items, I always stop because there might be a treasure hiding that I can’t see. Getting as many families involved in your own sale not only broadens the inventory, it also gives you more help. Our sales typically have 8 – 10 families involved.
- Require help at the sale from every participant. (No, Aunt Thelma can’t just drop off her unpriced items for you to deal with.)
- Have a sign up sheet with when everyone can work the sale.
- Make sure every item is priced WITH the owner’s initials on the price tag.
- Have a scheduled set up time that the participants come to fully set out their own items
- Delegate certain tasks to participants – advertising, setting out signs, set up/tear down of the sale, child care during the sale
- Make sure you have enough garage space for everyone’s items to fit inside at the end of the day (or set outside with a tarp over them).
- Have a scheduled time for every participant to box up and take home their unsold items at the end of the sale.
Each area of the country will have unique times that people typically hold garage sales. Even different towns have a different “garage sale culture” and times that they open. If you’re unfamiliar with typical garage sale times in your area, it’s a good idea to look on Facebook Marketplace for several weeks to get a good feel for the best time.
With that said, there are times and dates that are better than others to hold a garage sale. See my quick overview below to determine what is best for you.
Read in depth Most Successful Garage Sale Hours, Days and Months HERE.
- 2 – 3 days length
- Typically Thursday or Friday – Saturday
- Open early (7:00-7:30) so you don’t miss out on early shoppers
- Don’t choose a holiday week/weekend or local events such as graduation
- Close around 5:00 to get the after work crowd
- Spring is best for selling summer clothing and items
- Fall is best for selling winter clothing and items
This is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF HAVING A SUCCESSFUL GARAGE SALE!!!!!!
Yes, I put that in all caps, because by the time the sale comes, many people are so exhausted they skip the advertising part. The general thought is that if you put a couple crappy signs out, people will come.
They will not.
I can’t tell you how many sales I’ve given up on simply because I can’t find them.
If you decided to put in all the work for your own garage sale, go all out in getting people there. This is yet another reason to have a multi family garage sale…put 1 – 2 people in charge of the advertising and signs because to do it well, it takes time.
Dozens of shoppers have told us that they came to our sale first because they saw our online ad (no, it wasn’t paid) and/or saw our signs.
Read in depth How to Advertise a Garage Sale HERE.
- Have matching signs at major intersections and every single turn
- Have directional arrows on every sign
- Post an online ad on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist AND Gsalr.com
- Have a complete list of items for sale (DO NOT sale “to much to list”)
- Take and list as many photos as possible (people don’t know what they can’t see)
- Update your posts regularly and say “updated photos” or “updated items”
- Answer ALL inquiries about your items or sale details…these are interested shoppers! I will never understand why people don’t take the limited time to pull these shoppers in. (Plus the Facebook algorithm will favor your listing if you reply. Note, you WANT the Facebook algorithm to like you.)
- Matching, Weatherproof Garage Sale Signs
- Large Neon Poster Board (for signs AT your sale)
- Thick Black Marker
Cash is king at garage sales. And it is very important to have enough change and small bills at your sale.
But you will have people who happen to see your signs and drop by. Or there will be people who find something they don’t have enough cash for. We started accepting credit cards during our last sale, and it was a big success. We only offered it to people who didn’t have enough cash, and it added an extra $700 to our total sales.
Read in depth How to Accept Payment at a Garage Sale HERE.
Payment Options Free Printables
You can make a lot of money from selling your outgrown kid and baby clothing, shoes and accessories. But the number one way to make people walk away is to have lots of items that are unorganized. Mountains of unorganized baby onesies will make a pregnant mama run away fast.
But having enough tables to lay out all those baby clothes and the fact that you constantly need to refold them will make you run away fast.
Read the in depth How to Organize Kid and Baby Clothes HERE.
- Put the clothes in tubs so clothing doesn’t get mixed up
- BUT separate sizes and genders and LABEL EACH TUB
- Put tubs on tables if you have enough tables
- Hang all items you can and separate sizes with labels (you can write on a cut paper plate)
- Price each item
- List ALL sizes and genders in your online ads to draw in moms searching for their kids
The more variety of items available at your sale, the more people who will come. And if someone comes to buy plants, chances are they will buy something else too. I never have a full out “plant sale,” but there are enough plants in my yard that spread, that I always dig some up to sell cheaply. This usually makes me an extra $100 per spring sale. (Summer and fall time of year are not so great for selling plants.)
I have gone to plant sales where there are tables and tables of house plants, flowers or vegetables available, and they seem to do well.
Read all about what plants to sell at a garage sale and how to actually make money HERE.
- Price every container
- Label every container with the plant name
- Make sure they are well-watered
- Price at least 50% below retail price
I love teaching my kids about entrepreneurship, and garage sales are great places to do that! If you have your kids with you anyway, you might as well let them join in the fun of making a little extra cash. My kids are always asking when we’re having our next sale and play “garage sale” often because they enjoy the selling process.
- Set 1 – 2 hours when the kids will sell; don’t expect them to be interested all day
- Pick food items that are appropriate for the season
- Teach healthy food handling tips
- Always have an adult dedicated to helping at the food stand
- Teach the kids how to ask politely without nagging people to buy
Read a full list of food ideas for kids to sell as well as how to sell successfully HERE!
And get my free kid’s food stand printable menu that you can fully customize.
You can do your best to plan the perfect rummage sale, but sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate. If you have one or two days where rain is in the forecast, don’t completely despair! We still made over $1,000 at our multi family garage sale on a day that rained alllllll day long. Yes, it does take more work and planning than good weather, but you’ve already done too much to give up on a successful sale!
Read in depth Best Garage Sale Rain Plan Tips HERE.
- Still open early (maybe ½ hour later than usual)
- Update your online ad with “Rain or Shine” at the beginning
- Plan ahead to see who has canopy tents
- Pack as much as possible into the (cleaned out) garage
- Stack items on tables
Even if you’ve had the most successful garage sale ever, you will still have leftover items that haven’t sold. Some of these items are still valuable enough that you don’t want to donate them. I regularly make an extra $300 – $500 after the garage sale on items I list on Facebook Marketplace or Ebay.
Read in depth How to Sell Garage Sale Leftovers HERE.
- Take photos of individual items before packing up the garage sale
- Put items for sale in a separate location
- Have a time limit on selling online (don’t just collect unsold items that gather dust)
- Price at a lower price than what you were asking at the sale
And, yes, you will have a few boxes of items that you just need to donate and get out of your life once the sale is over. There are multiple places that will accept anything from furniture to used paint to baby clothes. You might know a thrift store in your area, or you can look through the detailed list of places to donate to in the article below.
Read in depth Where to Donate Garage Sale Leftovers HERE.
- Box or bag up immediately after the sale
- Choose a location to donate to
- Schedule a time the next day or two to drop off the items
- Schedule a pick up time for large items right away
If you’re moving OR if you’ve just gone through a massive New Year’s decluttering session, you can still have a garage sale even when the weather isn’t ideal. From consignment sales to “by appointment only” sales in your heated garage, read my full article below on how to have a successful winter sale.
Read in depth How to Have a Garage Sale in Winter HERE.
Garage Sale Supply List
It seems crazy to spend money on garage sale supplies. The goal is to MAKE money, right? So wouldn’t you make do and not spend anything on yard sale supplies? I’ve seen the DIY method many times while shopping garage sales, and, trust me, you will make a good deal more money when you’re prepared and look put together. All of these supplies are very inexpensive, and I only list what you absolutely MUST HAVE for a well-run sale.
At your actual sale, make sure you have a supply box with scissors, tape, pens, markers, neon labels and scratch paper. This will keep you from running in and out of the house on the big day of the sale searching for items while customers wait.
Large Neon Poster Board (for signs AT your sale)
Neon Printer Paper (for your free price tags printables…see below!)
Red Solo cups (as plant containers)
I trust this in depth ultimate beginner’s guide for a successful garage sale and the free printables will give you the confidence to declutter your home, team up with friends and make some extra cash! It will take a lot of work, but I have always found that selling my unused items at a garage sale is both fun and satisfying. (And then I have extra cash to shop garage sales the rest of the year.)
Happy Garage Saling!