Garage Sale Hacks: 12 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

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.

Jerry

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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.

12 Garage Sale Hacks to Maximize Your Profits

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:

1. Pick the Right Day

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.

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 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.

3. Dust It Off

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.

4. Check Your Pockets

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.

5. Figure Out Your Pricing Strategy

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.

6. Get Organized

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.

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’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.

The Day of Your Garage Sale

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:

8. 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 cancelled their yard sale at the last minute.

9. 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 of those roles when needed.

10. Accept Cash Only

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.

11. Create a Good Experience

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:

  • 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 folks who might want 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. Help your kids set up a lemonade stand or do a bake sale.

12. Keep an Eye Out

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:

  • 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, just smile and say you’re sorry, but you can’t leave the sale unattended.
  • Always keep your money on you. Cash boxes or envelopes can easily be snatched.
  • 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. I had a guy put on a coat I was selling and try to get in his car while wearing it. I’ve had baby clothes shoplifted after I said no thank you to a ridiculously low offer.

Making Money from Garage Sales as a Seller

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.

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Here are 12 garage sale hacks you can use to make more sales at your next yard sale.
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