Multi-family garages sales might scare you because of the planning required or the mere thought that friends and family will dump their junk and run. But I assure you that multi-family are way more successful than single family garage sales. And, if done right, the workload will be spread out to many people instead of just you. I participate in an 8 family yard sale every year that brings in $3,500 – $5,000 EACH SALE. In order to do it right and save your sanity, read my ultimate guide to a successful multi family garage sale.
In This Article
Because of all the information included, I have split this ultimate guide to a successful multi family garage sale into three parts. Continue reading the guide in the links below.
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 online shop, but most of this amount is from selling items we have decluttered from our home. (Isn’t it amazing how un-used items seem to just appear?!)
I know holding a garage sale can be discouraging. You might put in a lot of work and maaaaaybe make $100. I’ve heard so many people say that it simply is Not.Worth.It. But if you follow these guidelines, you will have a shot at a wildly successful sale. Just note that your first one or two sales might have glitches and problems. Don’t give up! If you’re new to this whole thing, it may take a couple times before things run smoothly and you really see that extra cash.
Part 1 of 3: Ultimate Guide to a Successful Multi Family Garage Sale
Planning for Your Multi-Family Garage Sale
Decide If a Garage Sale Is Right for You
I am a firm believer in selling my unneeded items at a garage sale each and every year. It works for me and makes enough money that I don’t simply want to donate everything. And I LOVE doing it! But that may not be the case for YOU. Just because I do it or your friend does it doesn’t mean you have to sell your household goods at a garage sale.
Before you spend too much time, decide if having a garage sale works for your season of life. Or maybe the whole idea is worse than death. Donating your decluttered items is not wasteful if it works for you. (And maybe you need to experience one or two garage sales before you can decide.)
Another question of is a multi family sale right for you is: are you able to stand firm with making and enforcing “rules”? Some people (yes, even family members and friends) will try to take advantage of your time and not give enough help. You must be firm about expectations (or find a participating friend who is able to).
Start 2 – 3 Months Before Your Sale
There is a boat load of preparation that goes into a garage sale, and multi-family garage sales take even more planning. Start at least 2 – 3 months before your ideal time to plan who will participate, where it will be held and when you will schedule the sale. It takes time for people to get back with you! This is not an event that you can throw together at the last minute and have it be successful.
Gather Friends and Family to Participate
Make a list of people you would be willing to work with and who would be interested in participating. When I say “multi-family garage sale,” this generally means three or more families. I have participated in sales as large as twelve families. The ideal number I’ve found for a successful multi-family garage sale is 8 – 10 families. Think about your space and the number of items/tables you can accommodate. Ideally you want to be able to fit all the unsold items into the garage at the end of the day (tables can stack on top of each other and items can fill under the tables to accomplish this). Some items might be able to be left outside overnight with a tarp thrown over them depending on your area. Some participants will have a lot of items; some people will just have a few boxes, so it’s always a good idea to ask approximately how much they think they’ll bring.
Things to Remember When Asking Participants:
1. Are they available to set up, help with the sale and tear down during the scheduled times?
This is not a thing where everyone can drop their items and run. DO NOT do that to yourself. And trust me, people (even the nicest people) will try. Their full participation during the scheduled set up, garage sale days and tear down times is an ABSOLUTE MUST. You don’t have to be a stinker…you just need HELP and lots of it.
2. You may have to turn people away.
News of our successful yard sale has gotten out, and lots of people want to participate. Unfortunately, our location cannot accommodate all the people who ask. It’s not that we don’t want them to participate in our profitable garage sale, we just know our limits and know if we go past that the sale will start to make us twitch.
You might have to say, “I am sooo sorry. I would love to have you, but we are maxed out on space already.”
Have a Wide Variety of Items
When asking people who would like to participate, don’t just stick with people in your stage of life. Yes, it’s awesome to have tables upon tables of baby clothes, but that only brings in one type of person…moms. At our sales, we have baby and kid items, antiques, tools, household decorations, items from estate liquidations, all sizes of adult clothing and so many more popular items from several different generations.
This variety is an excellent way to bring in loads of different kinds of yard sale shoppers. And those different kinds of people end up buying lots of different types of items. The mom coming for baby clothes might just find a piece of gym equipment for her husband. The old guy coming for a vintage toy might just find some cookware his wife wanted.
Set a Date that Works for Most
You might not land on a date that works for everyone, but you can take a poll on what is the best day and time of year for most. And if the set date doesn’t work for someone, no, they can’t go ahead and bring their items without helping. Again, you don’t have to be mean, but you do need to be firm on needing help from every participant.
Because of the size of our sale and our hard work at advertising, we usually hold our multi-family sale during the city wide garage sale event. BUT you must work hard to stand out from the dozens of other sales. Consider the date, days and times carefully.
Also, such an incredible amount of time and effort goes into planning a multi-family garage sale, you will want to have it open to potential buyers for more than one day. We hold ours for three full days (Thursday – Saturday) with great success on each day (even the rainy days).
Read more about the best seasons, days and times for a garage sale on my article HERE.
Set a Location with Plenty of Garage Space
You need to choose a garage sale location that is the best option for lots of traffic.
Things to Consider for a Good Location:
- Close to a main road for easy access
- Not ON main roads (parking and access is tricky)
- The most garage or covered space possible for overnight storage of your valuable items and in case of rain
- Medium size city is better than a big city or a small town. (Our city/town is a population of 25,000 near a city of 400,000. This works perfectly.)
- Consideration of homeowner association rules
Create a List of Guidelines for Your Sale
Create a list of expectations so everyone is clear as to the “rules.” Honestly, I am not a rule kind of person, but my garage sale co-organizer friend is. Without set guidelines, your sale will start to turn into chaos before it has a chance to succeed.
You don’t need to be a hardnose because things (and life) happens. But having clear expectations that are followed 98% of the time is absolutely necessary to this ultimate guide to a successful multi family garage sale.
You can let people know the guidelines when asking if they want to participate. Also, post these guidelines on your private Facebook event page (or however you communicate with participants) so everything is clearly understood.
Divvy Up One Time Garage Sale Expenses
Garage sale expenses should be kept low, but there will be things you might need to purchase such as quality matching signs, poster board for labeling tubs and tables, etc. One person should not have to pay for everything. Tell people if there is anything you need to buy and how much money they would need to contribute. (Again, keep expenses to a minimum.)
See my garage sale supply list at the bottom of this post to get started on basic essentials you will need for running a successful garage sale.
Require Items Must Be Cleaned and In Good Condition
Everybody has different views on what qualifies as being worth money. However, a quick way to make a garage sale look trashy is having piles of stained kids clothes, muddy shoes, broken lamps or grungy outdoor items filling your driveway. Some items are going to look dirtier, like tools, outdoor items and antique/vintage items. But on the whole, require clothing to be stain and hole free and electrical or “running” items to work. If something doesn’t work (like an antique lamp), then it should be clearly noted as you price items.
Participants Must Provide Enough Tables for Their Items
If you’re going to have a garage sale, you neeeeeed tables. Don’t make your customers get on the ground to look at your junk…because they won’t. (Unless they are large items.) Your tables don’t have to be super fancy. We’ve even used pieces of plywood or old doors on sawhorses. (You can make these look much better by covering with a sheet.) Or you could opt to rent tables. Or you could use pieces of furniture you’re selling to act as a temporary table.
But the main thing is require everyone to bring enough tables or clothing racks to hold the amount of items they bring. Of course you’ll end up sharing tables, but this ensures you will have enough space.
Create a Work Schedule and Require Participants to Sign Up
See my free sign up schedule above for an easy way to keep track of who is working when. This is based on a Thursday – Saturday sale, but you can customize the days and dates at the top to make it work for you. Send this spreadsheet out via your Facebook event page, email or text so everyone can see it and fill in the time slots. (They will have to respond, and the organizer actually type the names in.)
Jobs Needing to be Filled (based on an 8 family multi garage sale):
- Main Organizer: 1 person
- Photos, Advertising and Responding to Messages: 1 – 2 people (during set up and all days of sale)
- Yard Sale Sign Set Up: 2 people (night before)
- Garage Sale Set Up: 2 – 3 people (each morning)
- Running the Sale: 2 – 3 people (all day, each day)
- Money: 1 person to get change, tally results at the end of each day and distribute money
- Babysitting/Taking Care of Kids Inside: 1 person (every time there will be kids at home)
- (YES, having a designated adult inside with the kids is important. Kids can come out to help sometimes, but you know they won’t last all day, and you’ll be running back and forth.)
- Kid Food Stand Supervisor: 1 adult or older teen
- Garage Sale Tear Down: 2 – 3 people (each evening)
- Sign Tear Down: 2 people (the afternoon/evening after your sale)
This is the end of Part 1 of the ultimate guide to a successful multi family garage sale. I know I haven’t even covered the actual garage sale part, but this planning and best garage sale tips will save you loads of headache when you get to the running of the sale, trust me. If you want to make good money at your own sale, you will have to put in the back end work.
Find Parts 2 and 3 of this multi family garage sale guide in the links below!
Supply List for Your Multi-Family Yard Sale
Neon Printer Paper (for your free price tags printables)
Large Neon Poster Board (for signs AT your sale)
Kid Hangers (look for them first at thrift stores)
Adult Hangers (look for them first at thrift stores)
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