Having a garage sale is a good way to get rid of stuff you don't want or don't need any more. It's also a good way to make some extra cash. But to really make the most money from your garage sale, you need a plan. Here are the garage sale hacks I've used to maximize my profits from the many yard sales and garage sales I've had over the years.
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How would you like to make some serious money and declutter your house at the same time?
Garage sales are the perfect opportunity to do both – if you do it right.
It’s not as simple as just lugging your unwanted stuff out to your front yard and collecting a bunch of money. Having a successful garage sale takes time, planning, and getting the word out. The time you spend setting things up and promoting your garage sale is well worth the money you’ll make.
So how much money can you make from a garage sale?
Anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand. I’ve made as little as about $300 and as much as over $2,500. It’s not as dependable as having a steady side hustle like getting paid to read books or becoming a freelance translator, but you can make a nice chunk of change all in one shot.
How much money you make from your garage sale is going to depend on several factors beyond the items you have for sale. As a veteran of many address changes and many related garage sales, I have several garage sale hacks that will show 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 the day of your sale.
Here are my tips:
Pick a weekend day at least one week in advance, but two weeks 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 Sunday.
I did try Friday once on a whim. There was no competition and I got mostly 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.
Before you commit to a date, check with your local government to see if you need a permit. If you do need a permit, you might need to plan further in advance.
Where I live, I don’t need a permit to have a yard sale. If I have more than 4 yard sales a year, the powers that be consider that a business so I’d need to get a business license.
See if there are any local ordinances or restrictions on putting up signs. Your homeowners 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.
Don’t forget to check the weather as well. Bad weather virtually guarantees you won’t make as much as you could.
Go room to room and pull together anything you don’t need or don’t want. I tend to start in the garage or in 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 that’s in decent condition. You can even include broken stuff that someone might use for parts like computers, electronics, or an old lawnmower as long as you’re upfront about the items not working.
I’ve sold old furniture, tools, computer stuff, dishes, clothes, books, appliances, toys, kitchen gadgets, sporting goods, and just about anything else you can think of. Even if you think nobody would ever buy it, put it out there. One man’s trash as they say…
You’ll need a place to temporarily store the stuff you’re gathering up. 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, try to shorten the distance you have to cover to haul everything outside.
Clean up any large or higher priced items if you want to get top dollar. Furniture, exercise equipment, electronics, and any items that look well maintained fetch more money than things that look dusty or neglected.
Making money from garage sales as a seller is all about getting your price. You won’t be able to do that if your items look beat up and dirty.
If you’re selling anything with pockets, drawers, or compartments, make sure to go through all of them.
You’ve probably heard stories about people who bought a desk or a dresser at a yard sale then found a ring or an envelope full of money when they got it home. You don’t want to throw in cash, jewelry, or important papers with the things you’re selling.
There are two approaches to pricing. You can tag everything with your preferred price or you can leave price tags off altogether.
I’ve tried both. I’ve done better both financially and for my own sanity by not putting prices on anything.
Trying to figure out a price that is acceptable to you and potential buyers then making little tags for everything is a pain. It takes a lot of time and it’s stressful.
In my experience, when people see a price tag at a garage sale, they will almost always try to talk you down. On the other hand, I’ve had people offer more than I would’ve suggested just by me asking them for their best offer. I’ve also had two people trying to outbid each other for my old golf clubs.
You must be open to haggling, but I’ve had much better results letting my buyers start the negotiating. If someone seems shy or gets all Sun Tzu on you, go ahead and name a price.
If you want an idea of what your items could sell for, search sites like eBay or Craigslist for prices on similar items. You can also use Statricks, a website that collects pricing data on thousands of used products from several online marketplaces.
I’ve been to yard sales where it looked like everything was just chucked out the front door into random piles. If it looks like trash day instead of yard sale day, people won’t give you their best offer.
You don’t need elaborate displays or soothing music. Just make it easy for people to find the things you’re trying to sell. Leave enough room for people to get around and see everything.
You’ve been shopping before. Group things logically like a department store would. Organize similar items together and position related items nearby.
To get as many people as possible to come to your garage sale, use a combination of old school and internet marketing techniques.
You’re going to need some signs to place on main roads and near stop signs in your area. I prefer signs with directional arrows and enough space to write your address in big letters with a dry erase marker. They’re much cheaper online than at my local hardware store so I’d go with these garage sale signs at Amazon if you only need a few or this 10 pack if you need more.
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 get 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 figure to 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. You’ll be getting even more exposure by submitting to these sites so don’t skip this.
Facebook is by far 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 the details of your garage sale. Include photos and short videos of any interesting or high-ticket items. Ask your friends to share it.
When the day arrives, things are going to get a bit hectic no matter how well prepared you are. Don’t worry, though. You can handle it if you keep these things in mind:
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 cancelled their yard sale at the last minute.
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 of those roles when needed.
I’ve had people ask 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. Alternate forms of payment are a nice idea, but open you up to getting ripped off.
Are you willing to give your stuff away for free to people who write bad checks? Do you want to pay a bank fee for depositing 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. I’ve never been handed any funny money, but apparently passing counterfeit money at garage sales is a thing.
If you treat people well and be as helpful and engaging as possible, you’ll make more sales. Some tips for creating a good garage sale experience:
This is the part I wish I didn’t have to cover.
The truth is not everyone who came to my garage sales was an honest person. You will probably experience that as well, unfortunately. Because of that:
Hopefully these garage sale hacks help you make more money at your next garage sale. A successful garage sale gives you a nice infusion of cash. Your house will be less cluttered and you can use that new found cash to start an emergency fund, pay down debt, invest, take a vacation, or treat yourself to something nice.
Hi I'm Sara! My husband Jerry and I are on a mission to earn more, spend less, get out of debt, retire early, and enjoy life to the fullest. We want to help you do the same. Learn more →