It’s January, you’ve purged your home of all the extra. But you don’t want to just donate everything. What to do?!?! The feeling of a good house purge is so great until you stare at resulting piles of stuff. Do you move everything to the garage until spring garage season arrives? Well, friend, I’m about to teach you how to sell garage sale items in winter.
There is nothing like a good house purge after the first of the year. Christmas is over, and while it is a joyful season, it is many times a season of excess. January brings a much needed reset to our lives. Many of us are stuck indoors because of the weather, which is another reason going through all the drawers and closets makes sense this time of year.
Great! But now you have boxes and bags and tubs full of all the extra. While donating items is great, many times we would like to make some extra money out of our unused stuff. Or maybe there are items you have that you know would bring a good dollar amount.
Or maybe you’re moving during winter and need to sell lots of large household items. There is no option of waiting to have a summer garage sale. Do you HAVE to give all your stuff away?? No!! Read on for my best garage sale tips in the winter months. While winter may not be the best time to host a sale, you can still have a successful garage sale despite the cold!
Here are 11 ideas for how to sell garage sale items in winter.
1. Indoor Flea Markets
There are many indoor flea markets that run year round. The flea markets around me range from antique sellers to crafters to informational booths to regular people selling their garage sale items. Booth fees can vary, but most of them are very affordable. And some markets supply tables for you.
Google “flea markets near me” for a list, and call to get information on booth fees, what they allow and table availability.
Here are tips for successfully selling at a flea market:
- Price Items Low – If I’m going to the hassle of hauling my stuff to another location, setting up and sitting there all day, I DON’T want to haul it all back home. If an item is in near perfect condition with the box, a good rule of thumb is to shoot for one third of the original price. Otherwise, shoot for 90% off original price. Children’s clothing is generally $1 – $4 for everyday clothes and shoes. And, no, I don’t care what you paid for it originally. Remember, you are giving buyers a good deal in exchange for taking away your stuff. Pickers are looking for a low price, so give it to ’em!
- Don’t Price According to Ebay – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “On Ebay, this is priced at $_____.” This isn’t Ebay, honey. This is a local sale with the teeniest tiniest fraction of customers. If you want to sell it on Ebay, go for it! But don’t expect garage sale-ers to pay Ebay prices.
- Set up EARLY – You have one shot at this. Yes, I know you’re tired, but, again, if you’re going to go to the hassle of setting up, make the most of it. It’s a good idea to get there as early as the flea market organizers will let you. If it opens at 8:00, be completely set up by 7:00. Yep. If organizers allow people to come in early, pickers will be there at 6:30, and you want to be ready for them. If they don’t allow early entry, early set up insures that you’re ready for the early birds and not scrambling around as people walk away.
- Make Deals – Customers are going to ask you for less than the price. Be willing to haggle and take all reasonable offers. It’s part of the culture, and, no, they won’t be coming back by “later in the day” when you decide to lower the price on a single item. Catch them NOW.
- Price Everything – People generally don’t like to ask prices. They are far more willing to buy something if they know a starting price. Don’t do “make offer” sales or make them ask you about Every.Single.Item.
- Have a Helper – It is important to have someone with you to help take money, answer questions or man the booth while you go to the bathroom and grab lunch.
- Carry Your Cash – There are a lot of people at a flea market. Don’t step away from a cash box and expect it to stay. I like to wear a cross body purse or waitress apron with a zippered pocket. Something that is always with me.
2. Children’s/Mom to Mom Consignment Sales
I think every decent size city has several children’s consignment sales throughout the year. (And I’m talking a one-week consignment sale, not a consignment shop.) They will take anything kid related from clothing to books to baby gear to nursery décor. And a bonus is that you can shop for your own kids or baby clothes for the next year at the same time. Look up your local consignment sale’s requirements to participate.
Here are tips for selling successfully at a children’s consignment sale:
- Clean Clothes – You are facing a lot of competition, but take heart! The buyers are there with a mission of stocking up their kids’ closet for the year. Make sure the clothing is washed with no stains.
- Wrinkle Free – I don’t mean to say you need to iron the clothes (though a friend of mine does.) Just make sure you take them out of the dryer ASAP and hang them up right away.
- Clear Prices and Size – Each sale has their price tag requirements. Many provide printable price tags for you. If not, then make sure you print clear prices on the tags. Also, put the size of the clothing on the tags. Buyers don’t have time to look inside, and this also allows organizers to sort easily.
- Safety Pin the Tags – You don’t want the tag to fall off and not get the money from an item. Safety pin the tags to the clothes.
- Volunteer – This is more on the buying side, but these sales run on volunteers. Most sales will let volunteers pre-shop. This lets you get the best selection before everyone else.
3. Consignment Shops
Regular consignment shops are available for everything from adult clothes to kids clothes to even electronics.
If you’re looking for ways of how to sell garage sale items in winter, here are some tips to sell successfully at consignment shops:
- Contact the Owner for What They’re Looking For – Every shop specializes in certain items. Make sure you bring what they want.
- Clean and De-Wrinkled Clothes – The shop owners will go through each piece and accept or reject it. They will even run a black light over kids clothes for hidden stains. Just know that any damaged, stained or dirty item, they will reject, so don’t even bother.
- Lay Out Clothing in a Storage Tub, Not a Bag – You want to make a good impression on the shop owner. Lay out your clothing as flat or neatly folded or hang it on hangers. DON’T pile everything in a black garbage bag and expect them to be impressed.
- Everything in Working Order – If you’re selling non-clothing items, make sure it works or isn’t broken.
4. Antique Mall Consignment
If you have older furniture or larger antique items, call a local antique mall for possible consignment. They often have sections dedicated to this. Yes as with all consignment sales, you will pay them a large chunk of the sale price, but you will also (hopefully) get rid of it easier.
Tips for successfully selling antique consignment:
- Price Comparatively – Look around the mall at similar items to yours and price competitively with those items.
- Drop the Price – Often, malls will keep your item 3 – 4 months. Each month your item doesn’t sell, consider dropping the price by a percentage.
- Clean the Item – Yep, again, clean sells better than dirty. A simple wipe down inside drawers goes a long way.
- Use Scratch Cover – If you have a wood piece, get Howard’s Restor-a-Finish and rub down the piece with a rag. This is a quick and affordable way to elevate the piece and make it look appealing.
5. Indoor Winter Garage Sale
While this may not work for many people, it can be an option in the right circumstance.
Places to hold an indoor garage sale are:
- Inside your or a friend’s barn or large shed
- Rent a community room or building that is willing to accommodate a garage sale and go in with multiple other families
- In your home basement
- In your home’s main living areas (ideal if you’re moving or an estate sale)
- Yes, I’ve gone to multiple winter garage sales inside a person’s home, barn and basement. While it can be strange or awkward, it works.
Tips for selling successfully at an indoor winter garage sale:
- Make sure all non-sale items are removed from the room into non-used rooms (or on furniture, clearly marked “Not for Sale”)
- Close the doors to off-limits rooms and clearly mark with signs “Not Part of Sale” or “Do Not Enter”
- Have good garage sale signs and flags in the yard and door assuring people that they can “Come On In!”
- Advertise online that it’s an indoor sale. Social media is your friend! Use good advertising that I outlined HERE in How to Advertise for a Garage Sale.
- Have multiple people to help if it’s in your home so they can keep an eye on different rooms
- Have heating (ideally) if held in a barn or shed
6. Outdoor Winter Garage Sale
Yes, just because some of the country is entrenched in snow in January doesn’t mean everyone is cold. Even in January in the Midwest, we can score a beautiful weekend of warm weather, so this definitely makes the list of how to sell garage sale items in winter. Check the weather where you live and try holding an outdoor sale.
Even if it is cold weather, you would be amazed how desperate average garage sale shoppers get in the middle of winter. They need their fix, and they will brave adverse weather to get it. Just bring yourself a heater, hot coffee, gloves and warm coat.
Tips for holding a successful outdoor winter garage sale are:
- Advertise, Advertise, Advertise! – Follow my tips for Advertising for Your Garage Sale HERE
- Open Early-ish – You don’t have to open super early like you would in summer, but don’t wait until 10:00 either. You need to still take advantage of the people on their way to work. Pay close attention to which are the most popular days for the best yard sale – give people good options!
- Have Help – With any garage sale, it’s nice to have an extra set of hands. But with a winter garage sale, it’s imperative so you can take breaks inside to warm up. A group sale is ideal in this situation!
- Price Accordingly – Baby, it’s cold outside. People are braving the elements to come buy your stuff, and you’re desperate enough to have a sale in winter. Don’t be stingy in the good deals. If you really don’t want to sell something low, hold it back and sell it online.
7. “By Appointment Only” Garage Sale
I’ve had really good success setting up tables in my garage, photographing clearly and then advertising on Facebook Marketplace as “appointment only” garage sale items. This means I don’t have to sit outside all day in the cold but only at certain times.
Tips for holding a winter-time by appointment only garage sale:
- Group Like Items and Advertise in Bulk – This appointment garage sales generally work best for people interested in certain items or types of items. Set up a table of vintage items or electronics or children’s clothing and advertise each type of item separately. That way, a collector will come to pick through your antiques without having to hassle with kid’s clothes. And a mom can stock up on a certain size of children’s clothing without weeding through old furniture.
- Schedule a Time – It’s ok if you schedule more than one person at a time. Just be prepared to set a day or block of time aside where you’re home and can schedule with interested buyers at a good time for them.
- Have Change Available – Just like a regular garage sale, most people will have cash and will need change. Be prepared.
- Open the Garage Door When They Come – Have you ever walked into a stranger’s closed garage to look through their stuff? I have. It’s awkward and makes you question your life choices. Open the garage door when they come (even if it’s cold) so they don’t feel like you’re going to murder them.
- Have Good Lighting – You want buyers to be able to see everything you have to offer. Make sure you have work lights or garage lights shining brightly.
8. Friends and Family
I’ve had friends list photos on Facebook or Instagram of clothing or household items and offer it for sale to friends and family. You never know who might want what!
Tips for selling to friends and family:
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Money for It – It’s sometimes awkward to deal with friends and family with money transactions. But if something is worth a fair price, then it’s ok to ask that.
- Price Clearly – Do a simple and quick photo edit to write the price directly on each item’s photo and then include that price in the description. That way it’s clear what price you’re expecting.
- Put Size of Clothing or Item Details – As with all online selling, list clothing sizes, dimensions, damage and details of an item. It’s hard to buy without seeing in person, so make it easier.
- Be Firm on Payment – Yes, friends and family are notorious about saying “I’ll pay you later” and then forgetting. Offer Paypal (Facebook Pay), Venmo or cash payments and politely say, I need payment before or at pickup. You can even say it laughingly but firmly.
- Don’t Deliver as a General Rule – Ok, for a family member I see often, I’m glad to deliver the item. But generally speaking, people who want to buy something from you can also pick it up. It will most likely not be worth your time to run all over creation to deliver these items.
- Do Porch Pick Up – Porch pick up is fabulous, especially if it’s someone you trust. Set the item on your porch, and tell them they can get it at ______ time on __________ day. Have them pay online or leave cash under the door mat (if you’re in a trust worthy neighborhood).
9. Facebook Marketplace
You knew I was going there, right? Facebook Marketplace is the local online garage sale king right now. I have used it for years to get rid of garage sale items. While selling on a Facebook page definitely has its issues, it really can’t be beat for how to sell garage sale items in winter.
Tips for selling on Facebook Marketplace:
- Photograph Clearly – Bright lighting, solid background (like a wall or floor) and multiple angles of the item are key to someone clicking on your listing.
- Price Fairly – I know lots of people have a side business on Facebook Marketplace. That is not what I’m talking about here. This is about having a successful garage sale, so price to get rid of, not to make money.
- Get Ready for Frustration – Facebook Marketplace can be oh-so-annoying because you’re dealing with people who don’t respond, ask way too many questions or never show up. Just know that at the end of the day, that’s all part of the deal.
- Create a Pick Up Plan – Whether you’re comfortable with porch pick up or you meet up with people, create a plan. If you’re selling a bunch of $5 items or high priced items, think of setting a slot of time you’re available to meet at a Quick Trip parking lot for multiple people. But my all-time favorite is porch pick up. Put it on the porch, and tell the person to come between certain times. (This does, of course, depend on your comfort level or trustworthiness of your neighbors.) For items higher than $20, I have people come to my door, pay and then I’ll give them the item.
- Remember That It’s Your Item – People can get awfully cranky when they want to buy something for a good price. You’ll get accused of jumping them in line or not holding something long enough. I am pretty cut and dry. It’s my item, I can sell to whoever the sam-hill I want to. Yes, I pick and choose my buyers based on their messages and willingness to come right away. If they ask too many questions, skip. If they set up a pick up time and don’t show, skip. Of course, I get that life happens and try to work with people. But for the most part, you can tell if a person is a flake or if they have a genuine life moment.
Oooooh, good ol’ Craigslist. It’s fallen out of favor since its glory years, but people still browse here for good deals, and it’s a good place if you’re trying to figure out how to sell garage sale items in winter.
Top items that sell well on Craigslist are:
- Pet Rehoming
- Farm and Garden
- Building Supplies (for that extra sink you have from your remodel)
Tips for selling on Craigslist:
- Photograph Well – As with all online sales, you won’t sell something if there are no photos. Why, people, do you keep listing a random item without photos?!
- Don’t Do Porch Pick Up – I don’t know, but I’m a little more trusting of Facebook Marketplace people than Craigslist people. I always have people come to my door for a pick up and paying. This is especially true since I generally sell larger, higher priced items on Craigslist.
- Meet in a Set Location – For small items, meeting up is a great option and safer if you’re concerned about that.
- Beware of Scammers – If an interested “buyer” starts asking tons of questions (especially questions that are answered in the listing), they are often a scammer. And, we all know, any requests for money in any way, shape or fashion are a big red flag.
And, finally, we have Ebay for a great way of how to sell garage sale items in winter. A marketplace with millions of eyes, it is a fabulous way to move small sized, higher valued items. Yes, there are draw backs like having to list and ship an item.
Great items to sell on Ebay are:
- Name Brand Kid and Baby Shoes
- High Dollar Kid Toys
- Name Brand Outdoor Equipment (Yeti Mugs, etc)
Tips for Selling on Ebay:
- Price Fairly – Look up similar items and see their prices. I generally price on the medium to medium high range of results.
- Don’t Bother Under $25 (plus shipping) – It takes some time to photograph, list and ship an item. And there are Ebay fees that come out of the selling price AND shipping cost. Don’t waste your time with items under $25. Lots of people do, but these are often businesses who deal in tons of bulk listings. Trust me, it is NOT worth it.
- Ship Quickly – Once someone buys something, you are obligated to ship it in a certain time frame. Don’t forget or you will get one unhappy customer who will then get refunded by Ebay.
And those are my top 11 ideas for how to sell garage sale items in winter. These sale ideas will allow you to do that new year decluttering without having to pile the items in your garage, give them away, or wait for garage sale season! You will have less competition by selling in the winter months, and good results from pickers who are going through garage-sale withdrawals in the middle of winter. Purging and selling is a lot of work, but you’ll love the space it will create in your home and the extra cash it will add to your budget!
Comment below and tell me if you’ve tried selling in any of these ways mentioned. What’s your favorite?
Read More Garage Sale Tips and Tricks Below!
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