How would you like to make serious money and declutter your house simultaneously? If you do it right, a garage sale is the perfect opportunity to do both.
It’s not as simple as just lugging your unwanted stuff to your front yard and collecting a lot of money. A successful garage sale takes time, planning, and getting out the word. The time you spend setting things up and promoting your garage sale is well worth the money you’ll make.
Can You Make Money From a Garage Sale?
How much money you make from your garage sale will depend on several factors beyond the items you have for sale. As a veteran of many address changes and their related garage sales, I have several garage sale hacks showing you how to make more money at your garage sale.
You can’t just wing it and expect to make a lot of money selling your stuff. You’re going to have to do some prep work beforehand. You’ll also need to be ready for anything on the day of your yard sale.
Here are my favorite yard sale tips:
1. Pick the Right Day
Pick a weekend day at least one week in advance, but two weeks ahead might be better if you have a lot of stuff to sell. That gives you enough time to get everything ready without feeling rushed.
My most successful garage sales have been on Sundays. I’ve also had good luck on Saturdays, but my two highest were both on Sundays.
I did try Friday once on a whim. There was no competition, and I mainly got serious buyers, but I didn’t sell as much as I wanted to. I had to continue my garage sale on Saturday, which I wasn’t thrilled about. Don’t have your yard sale on a holiday weekend. People leave town or have other plans during long weekends.
Before you decide on a perfect time and commit to a date, check with your local government to see if you need a permit. You might need to plan further in advance if you need a permit. See if there are any local ordinances or restrictions on putting up signs. Your homeowner’s association might have policies against signs. Nothing takes the wind out of your sails like having your signs ripped down or getting fined by your HOA for improper signage.
Don’t forget to check the weather as well. Bad weather virtually guarantees you won’t make as much as you could.
2. Get Your Stuff Together
Go room to room and pull together anything you don’t need or don’t want. I tend to start in the garage or the basement since that’s where most of the stuff we don’t use ends up. Comb through closets, cabinets, and drawers for stuff to sell. You might even find some things you forgot you own.
You’re looking for anything you don’t use in decent condition. You can even include broken stuff that someone might use for parts like computers, electronics, or an old lawnmower if you’re upfront about the items not working.
Good sale items include old furniture, tools, computer stuff, dishes and other household items, clothing, books, appliances, vintage items, toys, kitchen gadgets, sporting goods, and other unwanted items. Even if you think nobody would ever buy it, put it out there. One person’s trash, as they say…
You’ll need a place to store the stuff you’re gathering temporarily. A corner of your garage works well since it’s out of the way and probably close to your sale area. If the garage isn’t an option, shorten the distance you must cover to haul everything outside.
3. Dust It Off
Clean up any large or higher-priced items to get top dollar. Furniture, exercise equipment, electronics, and any items that look well-maintained fetch more money than things with a layer of dust or look neglected.
As a seller, making money from garage sales is all about getting your price. You won’t be able to do that if all your items for sale look beat up and dirty.
4. Check Your Pockets
Go through them all if you’re selling anything with pockets, drawers, or compartments. You’ve probably heard stories about people who bought a desk or a dresser at a yard sale and then found a ring or an envelope full of money in it when they got it home. You don’t want to throw in free cash, jewelry, or important papers with the things you’re selling. It doesn’t take much effort to save yourself from that nightmare.
5. Figure Out Your Pricing Strategy
There are two approaches to pricing. You can tag everything with your preferred price or leave price tags off altogether. Trying to figure out a price acceptable to you and potential buyers and then making little price stickers for everything is a pain. It takes a lot of time, and it’s stressful.
People who see a price tag at a garage sale will almost always try to talk you down. On the other hand, people sometimes offer more than what’s suggested just by asking them for their best offer. Two people trying to outbid each other is a win.
You must be open to haggling, but let the buyers start the negotiating. If someone seems shy or gets all Sun Tzu on you, name a sale price. As a rule of thumb, though, let the buyer go first. If you want an idea of what your items could sell for, search sites like eBay or Craigslist for prices on similar items.
6. Get Organized
Yard sales where everything looks chucked out the front door into random clutter piles will not succeed. People won’t give you their best offer if it seems like trash day instead of yard sale day.
You don’t need elaborate displays or soothing music. Just make it easy for potential customers to find what you’re trying to sell. Leave enough room for people to get around and see everything. Group things logically like a department store would. Keep things like kitchen items, electronics, clothes, and sporting goods together. Organize similar types of items together and position related items nearby.
7. Spread the Word
To get as many people as possible to come to your garage sale, use a combination of old-school and internet marketing techniques.
You will need some yard sale signs on the main roads. Put them near stop signs in your area. Use signs with bright colors, directional arrows, and enough space to write the yard sale location in big letters with a dry-erase marker. Tie on some colorful balloons to attract more attention.
Make up a few flyers and hang them on community bulletin boards. You can find bulletin boards at grocery stores, churches, schools, laundromats, community centers, coffee shops, and other local businesses. Putting up signs and flyers is a good start, but that’s not enough to get maximum exposure. Publicize your garage sale online to bring even more reach.
Promote your garage sale online with classified ads on Craigslist, yardsales.net, gsalr.com, yardsalesearch.com, and garagesalestracker.com. Include photos of the items that attract the most interest and the most money.
Garage sale ads from Craigslist get pulled into mobile apps like Yard Sale Treasure Map. Gsalr.com has its own phone app for garage sale listings. You’ll be bringing even more exposure by submitting to these sites, so don’t skip this if you want to have an epic garage sale.
Facebook is the best bet for getting more people to your yard sale. The more friends you have, the more potential free advertising you get. Create a Facebook post with your garage sale details and photos of any interesting or unique yard sale items. Create short videos of any high-ticket items. Ask your friends to share.
8. The Day of Your Garage Sale
When the day arrives, things will get hectic, no matter how well-prepared you are. Don’t worry, though. You can handle it and have a successful yard sale if you keep these things in mind:
9. Start on Time
Be ready no later than half an hour before your advertised start time. Expect early birds and people who stop while you’re setting up. If you oversleep or are nowhere to be found when the start time arrives, people will knock on your door. It’s never happened to me, but I’ve seen it when my neighbors had an emergency and canceled their yard sale at the last minute.
10. Be Prepared to Wear Many Hats
On the day of your garage sale, you are the store manager, salesperson, cashier, stock boy, security guard, and customer service rep. Having at least one other person to help makes things easier, but be ready to fill each role when needed.
11. Accept Cash Only
People asked me if they could write a check or send me money through PayPal, but I’ve always said no unless that person was well-known to me. Accepting credit cards or alternate forms of payment is an excellent idea, but it opens you up to getting ripped off.
Are you willing to give your stuff to people who write bad checks for free? Do you want to pay a bank fee to deposit a worthless check? If not, don’t risk it.
With PayPal, you have no protection as a seller if someone disputes the transaction. You can’t track delivery or confirm receipt. Your buyer could open a dispute, win, get their money back, then keep the item. Stick to cash, but watch out for counterfeit bills. Passing counterfeit money at garage sales is a thing.
12. Create a Good Experience
You’ll make more sales if you treat people well and be as helpful and engaging as possible. Some tips for creating a good garage sale experience:
- Be friendly. Nobody wants to give their money to a jerk.
- Greet people as they arrive. Nobody likes being ignored, either.
- Have plenty of small bills and change on hand.
- Keep grocery or shopping bags on hand for people wanting to buy multiple things.
- Be willing to help people carry their purchases and load them into their car if necessary.
- Offer refreshments. Keep a cooler full of bottled water to give to visitors or sell for a buck a piece. Help your kids set up a lemonade stand or do a bake sale.
13. Keep an Eye Out
The truth is that not everyone who comes to a garage sale is honest. You will probably experience that as well, unfortunately. Because of that:
- Keep your doors locked, and don’t let anyone into your house. You never know what a person’s intentions are.
- If someone asks to use the bathroom, smile and apologize, but you can’t leave the sale unattended.
- Always keep your money on you. Cash boxes or envelopes can easily be taken.
- Keep your phone on you, too. You don’t want someone walking off with it. You might need it in case of an emergency or dispute.
- Watch your stuff. Someone put on a coat he wanted to buy and tried to get in his car while wearing it.
You’ll be OK if you pay attention to your house, money, and stuff.
14. Making Money From Garage Sales as a Seller
Hopefully, these yard sale hacks help you make more money at your next garage sale. A profitable garage sale gives you a nice infusion of cash. You’ll have an organized garage and a less cluttered home. You can use that newfound cash to build an emergency fund, pay down debt, invest, take a vacation, or treat yourself to something nice.
If your items don’t sell, online marketplaces like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace exist. If you have furniture to sell, you can use one of several apps for selling furniture. If you have clothes someone else might want, you can sell them on Poshmark.
18 Garage Sale Cons Hidden in Plain Sight
Let’s be honest, folks. Most of us approach garage sales hoping to snag that one dusty trinket or vintage item that might be the key to our future riches. While chances of finding a diamond in the rough are slim, sometimes fortune favors the bold! Here are 18 items that often go unnoticed but could turn a pretty profit if you know what you’re looking for.
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