Ultimate Free Garage Sale Checklist and Successful Tips

Having a successful garage sale is a ton of work and can be overwhelming if you don’t plan ahead. But with a little thought, you can (mostly) skip the overwhelm. I regularly make $1,500 at our annual garage sale from outgrown kids clothing and toys, home décor, vintage items and other miscellaneous stuff. Based on 10+ years of experience of killer yard sales, here is my ultimate free garage sale checklist and successful tips so you can say all that effort…was worth it.

I may earn a small commission through your purchase through any Amazon Affiliate links on this post.  This is at no additional cost to you.  All recommendations are my own because I have used and like each product.

If you would rather just print the list and not read all the nitty gritty details, click below for your printable ultimate free garage sale checklist!

The annual multi-family profitable garage sale I participate in has an average of 10 – 12 family participants. It’s awesome; it’s fun; it’s crazy (in the good way). I highly recommend multiple participants as a full garage sale is an excellent way to attract bigger crowds and allows for more people to help.


…it could be a nightmare if you don’t plan right. Everyone MUST help out and adhere to the guidelines for pricing ahead of time, cleanliness of items and responsiveness. If you’re organizing a multi-family garage sale, share the link to this post so they can download the checklist and be prepared for a successful yard sale too!

Ultimate Free Garage Sale Checklist and Successful Tips

Make sure to download your free printable ultimate free garage sale checklist HERE as there are even more tasks that aren’t included in this blog post!

2 – 10 Months Before Your Garage Sale

  • Set Up a Place To Hold Garage Sale Boxes (garage or basement)

If you don’t have a designated space to hold garage sale items, you will either not declutter, or the garage sale stuff will pile up where you’re trying to live and drive you nuts. Fact of the matter is, you will accumulate a fair number of garage sale boxes. Make a space for them!

  • Declutter As You Go Through Life

My system for decluttering as I move through life is oh-so-simple and keeps me from having overflowing drawers and all-day decluttering sessions. As I get a good size Amazon box, I put it in a hidden corner under my desk. As I find a toy, outgrown clothing or random household items that we don’t need, I quickly throw it in the box. Once the box is full, I move it to a shelving unit in the garage and get a new Amazon box to fill.

Read How to Help Kids Declutter and Sell Toys at a Garage Sale 

  • Do a Final Walk-Through Declutter

A couple months before the sale, quickly go through drawers, closets, the garage…everywhere and look for items you don’t need or want. If you have been decluttering throughout the year, this should be a pretty quick task (a couple evenings or a Saturday).

  • Plan Yard Sale Date, Days and Time

Don’t blindly point to a day on the calendar for your epic garage sale. Look at your local city calendar and plan around/for events such as city wide garage sale weekend (a great time to have it!) or high school graduation weekend (a terrible time to have it).

Also, the days of the week and time you will be open is very important, so give some thought to that as well. And while you can’t please all the people all the time, it is important that you choose a date where friends and family can join you. Multi-family garage sales are the most successful sale!

Read Most Successful Garage Sale Hours, Days and Months

  • Talk to and Get Committed Participants

Talk to family and friends who would like to participate and get a fairly solid yes or no. If you don’t really have people who are interested, think about organizing a neighborhood garage sale. For a multi-family garage sale, it is a good idea to discuss expectations of helping run the sale, sharing cost of supplies (this should be small, but you do need some supplies like yard sale signs), cleanliness of items and setting up and removing items on the designated time.

Read Ultimate Guide to a Successful Multi-Family Garage Sale, Part 1 

1 Month Before Sale

  • Create a Participant Private Facebook Event Page

You will need to communicate with the group of participants in your multi family yard sale. The best way to do this is a Facebook private event page. Group email could also work though it can be difficult to go back through messages for information.

  • Participants “Claim” Their Initials and Price Tag Color

To give participants plenty of time to price items, ask everyone what initials on the price tags and price tag color they want. You would be amazed how many people have the same initials, and this just doesn’t work for keeping things separate. See more about price tag color below.

  • Print Free Editable Price Tags

I have used multiple types of garage sale price stickers, and these are hands down THE best. All price sheets can be customized with initials with one click, and they can be printed on different brightly colored paper for yet another way to differentiate people’s items. I cut them apart and attach with name brand Scotch tape. It stays on clothing, doesn’t tear off book covers and even sticks through heavy rain!

Read 20 Tips How to Price Garage Sale Items 

  • Get your free editable price tags below.

  • Start Pricing and Organizing Items  

As you go through boxes of garage sale items, start cleaning, pricing and organizing same type items into boxes. Separating kids’ clothing sizes into tubs is a great way to avoid a massive headache when setting up the sale.

Read Garage Sale Tips for Organizing Kid and Baby Clothes 

  • Call Your City for Permit, Ordinances and Rules

Different cities have different rules regarding garage sales. You may need to purchase a permit or limit the number of signs you put up. Also, some HOAs also have rules. Know local regulations and community rules before you go to all the work.

Sure, you can make your signs out of boxes and paper. I am a big believer in buying weather resistant quality garage sale signs that can be used year after year. Whether you make or buy signs, make sure they are large, matching and brightly colored. Nothing confuses potential buyers more than having to follow a green sign, then white, then yellow and not knowing if you’re on the right trail.

  • Print Google Maps of Your Area and Map Out Sign Placement

Print a Google map of your neighborhood and surrounding main streets. Mark close, main intersections and every corner where a shopper needs to turn. They don’t know your neighborhood, so you MUST guide them there by where you place signs.

Read How to Advertise for Your Garage Sale 

  • Gather or Line Up Display Gear

Tables, tubs and clothing racks – you should have these for a successful garage sale. However, you may not have a ton of tables, and it isn’t feasible to go buy a ton. As a rule of thumb, require all participants to bring enough tables to hold their items. (Everybody will end up sharing, but they still need to bring tables.) You can sometimes rent tables cheaply (look on Facebook Marketplace). Or you can simply use plywood or old doors and sawhorses.

To make everything look nice, whether plywood or stained card table, get white sheets at garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores to use as “tablecloths.” Also, shop estate sales for cheap storage tubs to contain kids clothes and smaller items like purses.

2 –  3 Weeks Before the Yard Sale

  • Schedule Set Up Day/Time

You don’t want people dropping off their items at random times all week. Set a specific afternoon and evening for everyone to bring priced items and allow enough time to set everything up on tables so all you have to do is pull the tables out on garage sale morning. This is very important to keep your sanity on the big day!

Read in depth Ultimate Multi-Family Garage Sale Guide, Part 2 

  • Ask Participants Available Times and Fill in Schedule

You will need to plan who is working when. This is VERY important as you don’t want to be left running a huge garage sale by yourself! You need people to set and tear down each day, 2 – 3 people to run the sale all day and possibly one person or family member inside to babysit depending on your kid situation. Also, participants need to come on the same afternoon/evening to bring their items, so include that on the schedule.

  • Download your FREE and easy worker schedule document below!

  • Keep Pricing

Keep on pricing all your items! Put on some Netflix or a podcast, fix a yummy snack and price things each evening or weekend.

  • Prepare Signs with Address

Once you get your signs or sign supplies, go ahead and complete with title “Garage Sale,” direction arrows and address. The direction arrows are very important and what people will follow a great deal of the time.

  • Learn About Accepting Credit Cards and Online Payment

Last year, we added online payment at our sales and had great success. It does take some learning, so do that before your sale starts or you’ll get very flustered in the moment.

Read How to Accept Payment 

  • Make Paypal or Venmo Account/Get Familiar with App on Your Phone

Make your online payment account, get the necessary gear and get familiar with how to run the app. Again, you want to do this before yard sale shoppers are standing in front of you at your next garage sale.

  • Print Free Payment Option Signs

Let people know you accept Venmo, Paypal or credit cards! Sometimes people stop just because they saw your sign, and they don’t have cash. Hang signs throughout the sale and on your payment table so garage sale shoppers can gather items worry free.

  • Set Up Laptop with Free Money Log Sheet

You need to keep track of sales for different participants. This is VERY important as people want to get their yard sale profits after all this work! We use a handy dandy Excel spreadsheet on a laptop. A free download of our automatic adding form will be coming soon!

  • Gather Tools and Supplies (Dollar Store, Amazon or Estate Sales)

Again, you don’t want to spend much money, but you do need necessary supplies for a smoothly running rummage sale. Get things cheaply at the dollar store, estate sales or Amazon. Items like scissors, tape, neon poster board and pens are necessary.

  • Kids’ Craft, Food or Lemonade Stand

My kids absolutely love garage sale season…that’s because they get to make extra money too! Get your kids excited and involved in easy ways. If they are selling toys, let them keep the money for new toys or experiences. Or let them learn entrepreneurship with the classic lemonade stand. Or they can make a simple craft to sell. You would be amazed how many people buy (lame) kid-made items just to support them!

Read Best Foods Kids Can Sell at a Garage Sale (and How to Do It) 

  • Edit and Print a FREE kids’ food stand menu and sign below

                Get Your Kids Involved and Excited

                Pick Out Idea

                Make craft or Buy Ingredients or Packaged Food

                Edit and Print FREE Kids’s Food Stand Menu and Signs HERE

                Plan Table and Chair Setup

The Week of Your Successful Garage Sale

  • Keep Pricing

  • Tell Your Husband This Will Soon Be Over

  • Gather Tables, Tubs, Clothing Racks

Time to gather all the display furniture! Your garage will overflow, but it will be worth it.

  • Make Signs for Kids’ Clothing Sizes to Place on Tubs/Racks

Make signs for different clothing sizes out of small pieces of neon poster board so shoppers know immediately size and gender and not need to dig. Because shoppers will not dig very much.

  • All Participants Bring Priced Items and Set Up Everything on Tables (two days before)

Time for everyone to bring their clean and priced items for set up! Put like items on same tables (ie kitchenware, games, toys). Put all the tables in your garage. You may have to stack tables on top of tables. And, no, you won’t be able to walk in there.

Read more set up tips HERE

  • Take Photos of Items

While you’re setting up, take photos of items and tables of items. Try to make them clear as possible even if it’s dark. You will update these later, but it’s important to have something for your listing the day before the sale.

  • Edit Photos of Items

Make your photos as nice as possible. A picture is worth more than words, after all. Quickly edit your photos to lighten them if taken in dark lighting.

  • Ask Participants for List of Clothing Sizes, Items Categories and Big Items They’re Selling (for ad)

Ask all participant on your Facebook event page to list large items, clothing sizes and items categories they’re selling. You (or the person in charge of the advertising) will need to put EVERYTHING in the ad.

Read How To Create A Successful Garage Sale Ad (Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace) 

The Day Before Your Garage Sale

  • Set Up Signs

The evening before your sale, two people need to go to every corner you marked on your Google map and set up signs.

  • Get Change Money from Bank

Don’t forget your change money! Don’t be that sale that can’t accept a $20 because you don’t have change.

  • Get Change Money for Kids’ Food Stand

And if you’re running a kids’ stand, make sure they have some change money too (though not much will be needed).

  • Bake/Make Kids’ Food Stand Food

If your kids are making food, bake or make it the day before for fresh items. But don’t bake so much you end up losing money!

  • Make Online Listing

Make an in-depth online listing on Facebook, Craigslist, Gslr and/or YardSale Search. Don’t go to all this work and not tell people about it! The number one most important part of your sale is your advertising. You can have a crappy sale, but if your advertising is good, people will come and buy.

Read How To Create A Successful Garage Sale Ad (Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace) 

All Days of Your Garage Sale

Read in depth of how to run a sale the day of HERE

  • Get Donuts for Morning Workers!

This is a personal thing, but we don’t start a garage sale morning without donuts for the workers. Designate a donut person (but have everyone pay for their own).

  • Pull Out All Items Starting 1 Hour Before Opening

Don’t start setting up when you advertise your opening time. People will come early, and you want to be ready for them to buy. And DO NOT turn people away! You’ve gone to all this work, now it’s time to sell even when inconvenient.

  • Take and List High Priced Individual Items on Facebook Marketplace

Don’t just sit and chat during the slow hours of the sale. Market, market, market. We update online listing photos of our ad. Also, we take photos of large or higher dollar items or groups of items (ie kids clothing or baby gear) and make separate listings on Facebook Marketplace. People have come just because of these individual listings.

  • Update Online Advertisement Photos

  • Remove Items that Have Sold from Online Ads

It’s frustrating to drive a long way for an item only to find that it sold two days ago. Update your listings by removing larger items that have sold that day.

  • Have Fun Making Money with Friends!!!

After the Garage Sale is Over

  • Everyone Box Up Items

Have all participants come and box up their items when you close the final day. You do not want all the leftover stuff piled in your garage indefinitely.

  • Pick Up Signs

Don’t forget your signs! While everyone boxes up unsold items, send a couple people out with your map to pick up the signs.

  • Have a Pizza Party!

After all that work, you don’t want to cook supper. Consider using all the garage sale tables for a pizza party! Or go out for pizza.

  • Donate or Sell Unsold Garage Sale Items

You can donate all the small items that are unsold. Or you can try making even more money by selling larger items or groups of small items on Facebook Marketplace.

Read How to Sell Garage Sale Leftovers 

And Where to Donate Garage Sale Leftovers 

  • Divvy Up Money

Pretty quickly, you need to look at the sales log and count out everyone’s total money. This is the reason everyone went to all the work, so people are excited to get their earnings!

I trust this post will make your garage sale run smoothly and allow you to make lots of money on your unwanted items! I know it’s a long list, but remember that the work needs to be done whether you spread it over months or whether you cram it into two weeks. Successful garage sales are the ones where you are not stressed out and when you’ve done all the work necessary to make your sale stand out. Not only is it fun to run a multi-family sale with your friends, it’s lots more fun when you make real money at it! So download this ultimate free garage sale checklist and successful tips so you make your garage sale worth it and make lots of money.

Learn More About Having a Successful Garage Sale Below

Beginner’s Guide For a Successful Garage Sale

30 Top Items to Sell at a Garage Sale

Ultimate List of Free Garage Sale Printables, Checklists and Worksheets

20 Best Rain Plan Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

How to Sell Plants at a Garage Sale (Easy Tips)

Pin for Later Ultimate Free Garage Sale Checklist and Successful Tips


Our Vintage Bungalow

Howdy! I’m Tammy, and I’ve lived most of my life stretching a low decorating budget through garage sales and DIY renovation.

I am going to give you quick and easy tips on the beauty of reusing older items instead of spending tons of money on new. I’ll show you how I add vintage style that makes a your house feel like a cozy home (even with young kids, a practical husband and a big dog in tow). 

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