In Part 1 of my Ultimate Guide to a Successful Multi Family Garage Sale, I started you off with proper planning and participant guidelines for your garage sale. Our annual eight family multi family sale makes $3,500 – $5,000 each time. To do this, it takes effort and attention to detail, but the results are so worth it! In Part 2 of the Ultimate Guide, I will walk you through the preparation, advertising and set up for your multi family sale so you won’t be scrambling the morning of. Let’s get going!
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 hours 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.
Part 2 of 3: Ultimate Guide to a Successful Multi Family Garage Sale:
Preparation: 3 – 4 Weeks Before Your Sale
It seems like a lot of work went in to the planning of the sale, but even more will go into the preparation of your multi-family garage sale. You may begin to question the necessity of these steps. But we all know “if you fail to plan then plan to fail.” All this planning and preparation WILL be worth it to ensure you have a successful garage sale.
I have shopped many sales where people are pricing items during the sale or who didn’t have someone to help drag tables to the driveway or who didn’t think about a rain plan. Let me assure you, these sales were a waste of time. I know because one of the first sales I helped with was like this. Prepare for success.
Set Up a Private Facebook Event (or Texting Thread)
You need a good way to communicate with all the participants of your multi-family garage sale. Setting up a Facebook event has worked well for us. It is a great way to make announcements, upload documents and have one area where everyone can go to for information.
During the sale, it is also a good idea to create a texting thread everyone can respond to ASAP. There will always be questions or Whose item is this? or Who needs lunch brought in? or Will you come down on price on this?
Make a List of Initials Being Used
I have seen multi-family sales where people just “remember” who brought what. This is chaos and disaster. All price stickers need a set of initials so it is clear who gets the money. I’m sorry, but I’m not doing all this work so my friends or family members can get my $5. Call me greedy, but…
Some people may have the same initials, so you need to create a list and agree on unique initials for the price tags (you can go by middle names, maiden names, etc) to keep everything organized and the money separated.
I have created free garage sale price tags that can be customized with different initials. You can also print them off on different colored paper for each person for another level of organization. These tags have been the absolute best as far as cheapest, ease of use and staying on the item (even in the rain).
Price and Initial Every.Single.Item BEFORE Set Up
I have seen signs stating general prices (like on baby clothes) or sales that are completely unpriced. This will NOT give you successful results. When I go to a sale with no prices, I leave. I do not want the awkwardness of asking a price and putting the item down. There is too much interaction required. Don’t ask ANYTHING of the customer…and asking the customer to figure out a generalized price list posted on the wall is too confusing and will result in unsold items.
Also, if you just have a sign stating prices, you don’t know who’s item is who’s. It is IMPERATIVE for a successful multi-family sale that every item is priced and includes the owner’s initials. This is a step many people want to skip because it takes so much time. Please, please, please…don’t skip this step.
One last thing, require items be priced BEFORE people bring them to set up. Set up takes hours. But you will need DAYS to price items. Don’t add to the headache of set up by trying to combine the two tasks. You will hate your life.
Preparation: The Week of the Sale
It’s the week of your multi-family garage sale. You’ve planned, organized, priced and cleaned until your eyes are bugging out and you’re questioning the sanity of all this. But don’t give up! The big day is almost here, and you are about to make money off your hard work in a successful yard sale.
Stock a Garage Sale “Toolbox”
There will also be a need to re-price an item, tape something on, label a tub or table or some other random task during the sale. Make sure you have a small “toolbox” as an excellent way to keep all the necessities close at hand in the garage. If you don’t do this, it will just add a bit more stress of having to run inside to find a pair of scissors or roll of tape.
Items for your toolbox:
- Supply Box
- Scotch Tape and Dispenser
- Packing Tape with Dispenser
- Neon Poster Board Labels
- Sharpie Marker
- Safety Pins
Prepare a Computer for Sales Record Keeping
We kept records for YEARS on a good ol’ fashioned notebook, and it is possible. However, this adds quite a bit more work and headache when the books don’t balance with the cash box. A couple years ago, we switched to an Excel spreadsheet on a laptop, and it couldn’t be easier (even for those who aren’t computer savvy). It automatically totals your sales across all participants, and there is hardly any additional math needed at the end of the day. Plus, when there is a discrepancy in the totals, it is much easier to find.
I have looked into various methods and apps for keeping track of garage sale sales, and this is the best I’ve found and used. It is up to date yet still simple enough to understand right away.
Get your FREE Google Doc Excel Spreadsheet here for multi-family garage sale record keeping.
Set Up Venmo, Paypal or Credit Card Account
If you decide to accept online payment (which I highly recommend for an even higher number of sales, then you need to set up an account and get a free card reader. I dive deep into accepting credit cards, Venmo or Paypal in my post HERE, so jump on over and learn all about that process. Just make sure you get this completed in advance as it takes a little time to set up. (But is still easy peasy once you get it going.)
Get your free printable signs saying you accept Venmo, Paypal or credit card payment below.
Stellar Advertising for Your Multi-Family Sale
Advertising is probably THE most important part of the sale. You can do everything right, but if people don’t know about your amazing garage sale, then no one will come. I have written a full post on How to Advertise for Your Garage Sale HERE, so hop on over for in depth training. However, I’ll give you an overview here.
Prepare Your Signs
It’s very important to have matching, all-weather signs that are brightly colored. I prefer these signs HERE. You need to make sure whoever is in charge of the signs has them ready well ahead of time and not the night before…talk about stress and headache! If you are making new signs, it does take some time.
Guidelines for Your Signs:
- All-Weather: You don’t know if it’s going to rain at some point, and you don’t want to have to worry about your signs falling apart.
- Matching: It is very confusing to see one yard sale sign and then another kind of sign. It makes the customer wonder if they’re on the right trail of the original.
- Brightly Colored: So many signs blend into the landscape because they’re just blah. Make sure you choose a bright color so customers can see them while driving by and want to turn.
- Large: Don’t, please don’t, get these tiny little signs where you can’t even see the address or arrow. It does absolutely no good. Trust me as a garage sale shopper myself. I have given up on many signs because I just can’t see them.
- Include Address: It is always helpful to have the address on your signs. But make sure the letters/numbers are at least 4 inches tall. NO ONE, and I mean no one, can drive, make a turn and read your tiny little print on your tiny little sign.
- Include Large Arrow: This is the most important part of the sign. Again, people don’t know your neighborhood, so always, always, always include a very large directional arrow pointing the way.
Plan Your Sign Locations
It is not good enough to put one or two signs out at the end of your street. You need to draw people in from as many places possible, AND you need to post signs at Every.Single.Turn. People don’t know your neighborhood, so lead them to your home. Just as a reference, we usually set out 10 – 12 signs for our yard sale.
Guidelines for Sign Placement:
- At Every Major Intersection Near You (or sort of near you)
- At Every Single Turn it Takes to Get to Your Sale
- From Every Direction You Could Come Into Your Neighborhood
- At Every Single Turn it Takes to Get to Your Sale
- At Minor Intersections Close to Your Neighborhood
- At Every Single Turn it Takes to Get to Your Sale (did I mention that already?)
- In Your Yard (so customers know this was the sale they were following)
Take Photos of Items at Set Up
Online ads will get you NOWHERE if you don’t have pictures to go with it. Always, have the person in charge of advertising take lots of photos during the set up day so they have plenty to work with. Granted, they won’t be the best photos because everything might be chaotic that day, but you can always replace them later with better pictures.
- Broad photos of the massive amount of items you have
- Close photos of tables of different categories (ie kid clothing, home décor, antiques)
- Even closer photos of top seller items (shelving units, furniture, collector items, popular toys)
- The brighter lighting the better
- Make the photo straight and not blurry (You wouldn’t believe the number of photos I’ve seen where you can’t even make out what’s in the picture.)
- Do a quick edit in your phone with a free editing app to brighten up the picture if dark. (ie Lightroom, PicMonkey)
Get Full List of Items in Your Sale
Most advertisements I see are lazy. The people simply say “to much to list…come and check it out.” Well, no thanks. I, as a customer, have other things to do than trust you and waste my time on something I know nothing about. LIST nearly EVERYTHING in your sale.
Another reason to fully list all items is that collectors, pickers and just people in general search for specific items on Facebook Marketplace (ie vintage floor lamp, baby boy clothes size 24 mon, office chair). If you don’t have these items listed in your post, it won’t show up in people’s search results. If your garage sale doesn’t show up in people’s search results, they won’t come to buy your awesome stuff.
Ask each participant on your Facebook event page or texting thread to send you a list of items they are including. Of course you will bunch small things into categories and fully list large items.
List of Items Guidelines:
- Sizes and gender of all clothing being sold
- Type of home décor (ie Farmhouse, Mid Century, Hobby Lobby, Target, lamps, rugs)
- Vintage items (ie toys, tools, furniture)
- Tools/”Guy Stuff” (ie specific tools, brands, etc)
- Anything special that is highly sought (ie American Girls, Legos, storage cabinets)
Post Your Advertisement
It is very important to have 1 – 2 people in charge of advertising. Since it is so important to the success of your sale, you can’t just do it last minute, and it takes a lot of time. We have had so many people at our sale say they came to ours first because of the online ad.
Online Advertisement Guidelines:
- Post 1 – 2 full days BEFORE the sale (people plan ahead and won’t see your ad if you post the morning of)
- List on Facebook Marketplace, specific Facebook “For Sale” Pages, your personal Facebook page and Craigslist AT LEAST. Also on places like Gsalr.com
- Include full list of items being sold
- Include as many pictures as allowed
- Put dates, time and address at the top of the listing
Respond to EVERY Question Online
Again, I see so many times online ads saying that they won’t respond to questions. WHAT?!?! This is the stupidest decision you could ever make. Yes, I know you’re busy…which is why you put a specific person in charge of advertising. These are INTERESTED BUYERS. You want to answer their questions.
Another reason to respond to all comments on your post and Facebook messages is that Facebook will bump up your listing to the top each time you comment on it or “Like” someone’s comment. And you want Facebook to bump up your listing. So even if someone is just tagging a friend on your post, go ahead and “Like” their comment, as an easy way to keep your post bumped.
Welcome “Early Birds” or Late Shoppers
An early bird is a garage sale term for someone who comes before the official start time. Garage sale shoppers are a serious bunch, and you will ALWAYS have early birds.
I can’t count how many times I’ve shown up at a sale and been turned away because “they’re not open yet” even when the garage door is open and the sellers are outside. (It’s not like I’m knocking on the door or something crazy like that.) People, this is not a store. Even if you’re not ready and still pulling items out of the garage, heavens to betsy, let people shop if they want to. (THIS is the reason why you need to do all the planning and prep you can before the morning of the sale.)
No, people don’t have all day just to come back to your sale when it is convenient for YOU. You are there for them so they will give you money and take your junk. Be welcoming whenever someone shows up to make the most money.
Set Up for the Garage Sale
Have a Dedicated Set Up Date and Time
Whoever is having the multi-family garage sale at their home is sacrificing a lot. There will be junk piled everywhere, people will be in and out for several days, the house will just be chaotic. You need to minimize this chaos as much as possible.
Set up one afternoon and evening one or two days before the sale when everyone can bring and set up their sale items. If you don’t set a time, people will come alllllll through the week at every conceivable time of day. Your life will be one revolving door of madness.
Require Full Set Up on Set Up the Scheduled Time/Day
Do NOT expect to pull items out of boxes the morning of your sale. I have seen this so.many.times and just want to groan. People are there early to BUY your STUFF. Well, guess what? Potential buyers can’t buy what they can’t see stuffed in a box. And YOU don’t have time to be setting up while you’re trying to take money and pull tables out of the garage.
All items must be removed from boxes and on tables during set up time. Large items not needing a table need to be placed under tables for quick removal the day of the sale.
Combine Like Items in the Same Area
You will want all similar types of items to be combined in the same area on the same table(s). Decide which tables will hold things like home décor, books, clothing, tools, electronics, toys, household items, etc and then have all participants put their similar items together in the designated area. That way yard sale shoppers who are interested in children’s books won’t miss a random box clear across the driveway.
To read more about how to organize kids’ and baby clothes at a garage sale, go to my post HERE.
Store Everything in Garage Until the Sale
This is tricky because a good multi-family garage sale will be absolutely packed with a lot of items that you now need to find space for in the garage. We usually double stack tables in the garage, fill in all the space under the tables with larger items (like suitcases and small furniture) and basically cram small items into every conceivable space.
If you run out of room, you can make a stack of outdoor items, gardening tools, furniture, etc. that won’t fit in the garage and cover with a tarp. You can make the stack close to the garage, in the side yard out of view or some other similar area. And remember to weigh down the tarp so it doesn’t blow off.
Yes, we have gone through Parts 1 and 2 of the ultimate guide to a successful multi family garage sale, and we still haven’t even gotten to the sale itself! But I assure you, all this background work is what makes our profitable garage sale bring in $3,500 – $5,000 every single year. And this is why so many garage sales flop…because the planning, prepping and advertising was lacking. If you put in the work, you will have a very good chance of reaping the awesome results. (And the more you do this, the easier it will get!)
Complete your multi-family garage sale tutorials in Parts 1 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)
Pin for Later Ultimate Guide to A Successful Multi-Family Garage Sale