Garage Sale season is here, if you haven't done so yet it's a great time to prep for the most profitable garage sale possible. Get rid of those clothes you don't fit in anymore either due to losing a ton of weight (congrats, you rock!) or the baby weight that just hasn't gone away.
Right now is a great time to purge your home. Springtime is the best time to sort through all of the items that we've been hoarding all winter long. While you're at work, you can give the kids the task of actually going through their room and removing the clutter or hoarding. If your kid is anything like mine, you may have to go in after them and go into “spots” they think you don't know about. Like in the back of their closet or in that corner of the attic.
I use the holiday/special event and/or 6-month rule.
If it's not a holiday or special event decoration or item, or I won't use it within 6 months, it gets either tossed into the garbage or put into the garage sale pile. If it will bring me at least $.50 I put it in the garage sale. Some items I save for the free bin, but I'll talk about that in a bit.
We have our community-wide garage sale from the 2nd to the last weekend in June every year here in our cute lil' town. You'll want to check your local ordinance for garage sale regulations. Some cities only a low 2 weekends a year, while others don't care how many weekends you have a sale.
Growing up my mom used to have a profitable garage sale at least once every other year. As she was getting older, she had one every summer. She made a decent amount from it. Nothing really to write home about, but enough to use towards school supplies and clothes for my brother and me.
There was always one thing that she would do wrong though. Since she was a distributor for a Home Decor company, she always had a problem with lowering the prices on some of the pieces. Yes, they were always pristine and well taken care of, but she often wouldn't go more than $10 less than full retail. I would ask why, and her answer always was “If people want it, they will pay my price!” I think she could have had a more profitable garage sale had she lowered the prices a bit more.
Now I understand where she's coming from, trust me. However, there is a flaw in her logic.
She didn't realize that people don't go to garage sales to spend hundreds of dollars. They go to get expensive items for super cheap that they may need. While others would often bounce sale to sale to find items to “flip” and put them on Etsy or eBay.
So over the years, I've figured out a few things when it comes to having a profitable garage sale and I've compiled a list that has served me fairly well. Last year I grossed about $600 for the summer of kind of half-assing it. This year, I'll probably do about the same but that's because I have a barn full of items that my husband wants to be cleared so he can have his space.
Be sure to check out the opt-in at the end of the post for my profitable garage sale printables that I use.
16 Profitable Garage Sale Tips To Use Immediately
Plan For At Least 2 Weeks Ahead
I'm telling you, a garage sale takes work and if you just throw everything together in 1-2 days, you're probably not going to sell much. Make signs, list your sale in the local newspaper, hang up signs in stores that allow it. Get a permit if your town requires one. All of these things need to be done at least 1-2 weeks prior. Pick a weekend when there may be a lot of “foot” traffic in the area. If you have a community garage sale going on, have yours the same weekend. People come to those areas, to buy. Give them the stuff to buy.
Make Creative Signs
Create awesome signs like the one I posted above. Sure the dollar store garage sale signs are fine, I won't knock them. I like quirky signs that tend to get people's attention. The more attention your signs attract, the more profitable garage sale you will have. If you use a Cricut Machine, you can use my sign design here in design space for FREE.
Signs that say stuff like “My trash, your treasure for the pickin' “ or “Treasures Galore, waiting to be Discovered by You” or something along those lines. I've received so many compliments on my signs over the past couple of years. “You're sign is hands down, the best! I love it!”
Take time to set up
Do not just throw things on tables, in bins, blankets on the ground, etc. You want to attract buyers, not make them do a drive-by look. At the same time, don't set up so it looks like a shop (unless of course, your garage is an antique or used item shop). Have things folded nicely, displayed nicely, and organized. To have a profitable garage sale, you still have to have a presentable garage sale that attracts people.
If you don't want people to go into certain areas of your garage or barn, put up old sheets closing those areas off. Also, if you have tools hanging on the walls, that you don't want to be sold, hang sheets over those. People don't know what is for sale or not. If they see it, they will ask about it, or take it off the wall/ceiling expecting to be able to purchase it.
My husband has antique hit-n-miss gas engines and I can't count on my fingers or toes how many men asked what we were asking for them and they were in a section of our barn that was blocked off too.
An hour before your profitable garage sale starts daily, set out signs. The ones in front of your home, cover until you're open. Make a strict “No Early Sales” sign otherwise people will start coming up and rummaging through way too early.
Have Cash To Make Change
I would think that this tip would be obvious, but a friend of mine years ago was having a garage sale and had no change to give people. She didn't think she needed it. Guess what happened after 3 hours of people wanting to buy, but her not having change? She called me and asked if I could swing by the bank and pick up money for her so she could give change. Needless to say, she learned a valuable lesson in having a profitable garage sale that year.
You should have at a MINIMUM $50 in cash on hand to have a profitable garage sale. I usually have about $75-100 in the following increments:
- 2 rolls of pennies ($1)
- 1 roll of nickels ($2)
- 1 roll of dimes ($5)
- 1 roll of quarters ($10)
- 25 one-dollar bills
- 4 five-dollar bills
- 2 ten-dollar bills
- and 1 twenty-dollar bill (optional)
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Get help or Partner Up
You should have at least one other person helping you with your profitable garage sale. If you have that person bring items they want to sell, you can list your sale as a “Multi-Family” sale and you'll attract more buyers. Let that person know where your list of pricing for bigger ticket items is so they know the lowest you will take on something in case you make a food run, or run inside the house for a bathroom break.
Make sure when you have someone partnering up with you, that you both take turns going inside and cooling off if it's a hot day. Also, make sure you're hydrated. This past weekend, I didn't get nearly as much water as I should have, so I ended up not holding my sale on Sunday. Can't have a profitable garage sale, when you're sick from dehydration.
Price items reasonably
Like my mom, so many people price things crazy high, hoping that people will pay that price. They won't. So when you're pricing, start at a reasonable price. People will want to haggle the price down, so make sure you make note of what your lowest price will be. Items should ideally cost 25% of the original cost, except for antiques & collectibles.
Hot ticket items, you may be able to price a bit higher, but use your best judgment. While you're wanting a profitable garage sale, you don't want to turn people away because your prices are too high.
Have a $1 table or box and mix-matched toys for like .25. I also have a basket that I fill with little odd & end type items at the checkout table that say “FREE”.
This past weekend, I just told everyone, “Make me an offer, 9 times out of 10, I'll accept the price. My husband wants his barn so I'm wheeling and dealing to empty this place for him!”
Use painters tape or the small dot stickers
The blue Painters tape doesn't leave residue and isn't hard to remove. You can put it on appliances, clothing, etc and it won't come off easily either. You can usually find it at Dollar Tree for next to nothing. I buy it by the case because I use it for my crafting also. If you rather use dots, you can use those also. They are often nice to have if you plan on doing “Yellow dots – $.50, Green Dots – $1, etc” Which I sometimes do so that I'm not having to write prices on EVERYTHING.
If having a garage sale for a couple of weeks is wearing you down, you can also let people know that everything is “Make an Offer” and you'll be surprised how many people price items more than you thought they would.
Put a “Not Responsible for Accidents” Sign up EVERYWHERE
Especially if you own your own home, if someone gets injured during your profitable garage sale, on your property, they can sue. Even if it's not your fault at all. Amazingly, the lengths people will go through to get a quick buck.
Also, MAKE SURE YOU TAKE PHOTOS OF YOUR SIGNS being posted at the doorway(s), on the walls, posts, tables, etc. Seriously, you may think it's overkill, but having several signs posted throughout your venue will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you don't do this, and someone gets injured, you can kiss that profitable garage sale goodbye if they decide to sue for injuries.
*In some states, you may still be held responsible so check your state's regulations on injuries during a garage, yard, or estate sales.
Keep a measuring tape & a lightbulb on hand
A lot of people come looking for furniture that needs to fit somewhere. Microwave stands, hutches, dressers, etc may have to fit into a closet or a little nook. They want to make sure it fits. If there is the slightest bit of hesitation on size, they won't purchase. If you have a measuring tape you can measure it for them. Or better yet, pre-measure (height, width, and depth) each item and put the measurements on the sign with the price.
When folks buy lamps, they want to know that they work. So keep a good lightbulb on hand so you can show them they work. It lets them also know that you're not selling faulty lamps. Having items like these are sure to help you have the most profitable garage sale you ever wanted.
More isn't always the better
You don't have to put EVERYTHING out at once. You can keep some things you're on the fence about selling or just don't have space for right away until space opens up. Think of it as a store that doesn't put 100% of its stock out immediately. A profitable garage sale doesn't mean that you have to show off everything you have. Let people know that you're getting more stuff out as spaces open up.
Hang Clothes that are Meant to be Hung
I hate going to garage sales and seeing coats, suits, dresses, etc folded up; or, worse balled up, and stuffed in a tote or on a table. Those items need to be hung up. It's showing you take care of your items. Even though you're selling them, you're taking pride in the care, plus people can see what they look like without all those pesky wrinkles.
Display items in an Attractive Manner
When you go to a store, you see things strategically placed so they attract people. You want to do the same thing for your sale. Don't just throw things all over the place. Set your items up nicely, neatly, and keep it that way throughout the days. People always pick items up so they can visualize. Help them out a bit. If you can put a few nails in your garage wall or beams, do it and hang the bigger photos up. If you can't hang them up, lean them up against a wall. Don't hide them in a tote and make people thumb through them.
If you have extra storage totes laying around, they are great for putting purses, books, little odds & ends, etc in. Keep like items together. ie – Kitchen stuff with kitchen stuff, bedroom stuff with bedroom stuff, toys with toys, etc.
Keep bedsheets, curtain sets, and towel sets together. You can use either gallon baggies or if you're like me, you keep the plastic casings that linens come in. When you do that, you are telling people that you know exactly what all goes in that set and it's all there. If it's not, you can mark it on the package. Stuff like that helps people see what's inside and of course, helps you have a profitable garage sale.
Display A Couple Pieces of Furniture Outside
Set a couple of pieces outside of the sale, and the rest inside, preferable more towards the back if possible. This gets people coming IN the door to look at the piece in the back while other things catch their eye as well. Make sure that you have enough space to move items and maneuver through the sale without knocking stuff over.
If you have them, use furniture movers to move the furniture in and out of the garage. The more furniture you have showcased outside, the better. It pulls more people in. Right now, people are looking for furniture to rehab, so if you have antique furniture, put that out, but keep it protected and hopefully those help with your profitable garage sale take off.
Have fun during the sale
Yes, you're trying to have a profitable garage sale, but don't stress if you don't make a few grand. It happens. You may also have to have a sale for a couple of weekends. But don't stress. Have fun, relax, and just soak in the fun of hearing people talk over items. You'll find people find an item that reminds them of baked pies that grandma used to make or hitting the baseball field with a father who passed away.
Have some music playing low in the background. Make it appropriate music with limited cussing so that you don't run potential customers off.
Get the kids involved
If you have younger kids who want to make a little bit of money, let them sell some water bottles, lemonade, popsicles, etc. People LOVE seeing little entrepreneurs and will pay $.50-$1 for something like that. Especially if it's going towards a school trip, sports, or maybe even saving up to buy themselves a new bike.
They can even have a table of the items they want to sell set up. But remind them, it's their responsibility to collect the money and give change for their sale. Provide them with their very own tally sheet and calculator so they feel official.
Put a few items from your business out
If you have your own business, put some items out. On a table CLOSE to you (for question & security purposes), set out a few of your “throwaway” brochures, a few sample items, etc. You may gain a few new customers or even get a booking or two if you do this. If you're looking for bookings for your home business, make sure you keep your calendar next to you. Don't leave it in the house if you expect to book parties.
If you're a creative person, set out samples of what you create and take orders. Again, make sure you have order forms in front of you. You'll want to give your new clients a copy of their order form while retaining a copy for yourself.