How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale

Garage sales are great, provided you know how to hold a successful one! Whether you call it a garage sale, rummage sale, or otherwise, they’re such a great way to make extra cash when you’ve got stuff on hand you’d hate to donate.

Hold a Successful Garage Sale

After you’ve taken the time to declutter your house, there’s a good chance you’re left with a few boxes filled with stuff that you’d like to sell instead of donate. With so many resale sites available through Facebook, you might ask yourself, is a garage sale worth the work?

Last summer, though, I managed to make over $500 at my garage sale just by following these tips:

How to Price at a Garage Sale

When pricing your items for your garage sale, remember that if they don’t sell, you’re going to donate them and get nothing in the end anyway. So you want to keep the price low but not so low that you’ve wasted time putting the event together. I’ve found that pricing your items around 10% above your ideal price is a good place to start because most “sailors” come looking to haggle.

It’s also essential to think about change. You don’t want to deal with anything less than a quarter. If you have items worth less than that, bundle them or toss them in a tote marked “FREE!” and move on.

Also, make sure you put a price tag on everything. I hate going to a garage sale only to search for prices or ask about each item I want. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve put back simply because I got tired of asking, “How much is this?”

If you’re selling bigger or like-new items, go so far as to post the retail cost for someone to buy it at the store.

car seat travel carrier on display at garage sale

Garage Sale Advertising & Marketing

Make sure you’re running ads in the local paper! That’s one of the first places most “sailors” check. You should also post on Craiglist and in those Facebook resale groups. You should also look for Facebook groups collecting garage sale information to promote weekly. The more free advertising you can do, the better!

Hone in on what you have to offer. Antiques, baby items, gaming equipment, and furniture are often hot commodities, so showcase them if you’ve got them!

When you set up your garage sale, ensure you’ve got your best stuff towards the road so that people driving by will want to stop. Make it a good mix of items so that more than one demographic will want to stop to check things out.

Drive Past Your Own Signs

Take the time to drive past your own signs after you post them. If you can’t read them, no one else can either!

funny garage sale sign

It’s worth investing a few dollars to get more prominent signs that stand out. The $10 on signage will quickly pay for itself. If you’re like me and holding a garage sale almost every year to get rid of kids’ clothes, I highly recommend these affordable signs that stand the test of time:

Garage Sale Prep

Don’t forget to talk to your neighbors about garage sale prep! You’re far more likely to see consistent traffic if you can advertise as a “neighborhood sale.” See if anyone in your area is interested in holding a garage sale at the same time as yours. “Multi-family sale” or “neighborhood-wide” will always bring in many more customers than doing it alone.

If you do not take the time to prep for your garage sale thoroughly, you’re better off not holding one. Don’t be lazy about it, only to spend 10 hours to make $50.

Money Handling at a Garage Sale

Don’t accept checks. Seriously. Don’t do it ever. Better to lose out on a sale than lose your items and deal with the hassle of trying to cash a bad check!


pretend check for mr gullible

Just don’t do it!

Breakdown of Change

You don’t want to lose out on a sale or have to lower the price of an item because you can’t break a $20. Go to the bank at least a couple of days ahead of time. Typically I plan to have $100 in change, though I keep half of it inside my house until I need it. What you’ll need will depend on the prices of most of your items.

If you have a mish-mosh of items, with a few bigger pieces, you may want to break down your change like this:

  • $10 in quarters
  • $30 in ones
  • $30 in fives
  • $30 in tens

Best Time to Hold a Garage Sale

While holiday weekends might seem like a good idea at first, a lot of people are out of town or hosting visitors of their own, enjoy the holiday and plan your sale for a different weekend.

That said, try to aim for the beginning of the month. Typically, people spend more at the beginning of the month, so if you can swing a sale the first weekend, go for it.

Expect Early-Birds

And know how you want to deal with them!

When I held my first garage sale, I had just given birth to my son a couple of months prior. We were home alone the day before the sale when there was a loud pounding at the door. Thank goodness we have a dog because when I cracked open the door, there was a rather large, intimidating man wanting to look through things early. He did not want to take no for an answer until my dog’s barking finally drowned out any possible conversation.

Now, I only put the street name (or intersection) whenever I advertise. Then I put up signs pointing in my direction on the morning of the sale. Lesson learned!

Supplies Needed for Garage Sale Success

Should you rent tables for a garage sale? Yes – if you don’t have enough tables or friends to borrow from, rent them! Don’t throw everything in piles or make people dig through totes to find your goods. The easier you find your items, the easier it’ll be to make a sale. If you need to put things on the ground or your lawn, use a tarp. I guarantee no one will buy something wet from morning dew or covered in dirt!

Consider Fun Table Clothes

Along the same lines as ensuring you have enough table space, you may want to consider some bright, fun table clothes to help catch people’s eyes. Once again, the more appealing you can make your stuff, the more likely you will have a successful garage sale.


zebra print table cloth with garage sale video games

I also really like using what I call “stay put” table clothes. I first learned of these when I worked banquets in college, but these are fantastic. Not only do they serve you well for a successful garage sale, but they’re great for outdoor parties and picnics.

Check Into Your Local Ordinances

Some areas require you to purchase a permit before holding a sale, and you don’t want to lose out on your profits because you’ve now got a fine to pay.

Keep It Clean

Don’t set anything out that’s dusty, dirty, or in a general sorry state. If you make it look like you’ve taken good care of your things, people will likely want to buy them. While you’re at it, make sure you set your DVDs, CDs, and books out neatly so people can see titles quickly and clearly.

Organizing a Garage Sale

If you’re selling clothes, especially kid’s clothing, take the time to organize it. While it may not stay organized for long, it’ll help people find what they want. This is also a great idea in that you can bundle up what’s left to sell as groups on your local resale site after the sale.

sorted clothes at garage sale

Have Music Playing

If you’ve got a bit of ambient noise in the background, it’ll help people feel comfortable discussing a purchase without feeling like you’re eavesdropping. You might as well enjoy your time, especially during the slower periods. Having music on helps with an overall enjoyable garage sale experience for everyone.

Let the Kids Help

If you have children, let them take part in it! They can bag up cookies to sell, have water bottles on hand, or even draw pictures and do crafts that they then market. Let them have fun with it and encourage their entrepreneurial spirits!

Offer an End Sale

Offer 50% off of everything during the last hour of the sale. Again you’ve got to keep the mentality that whatever doesn’t sell, goes. You could even do a “pay what you want” towards the end or start marking stuff for free! If everything is gone at the end, you won’t have to worry about making a trip to Goodwill.

Garage Sales vs Facebook Marketplace



garage sale vs facebook marketplace boxing image

I don’t dislike the resale groups. I’ve made a lot of money using them, and they’re a great resource, especially during the colder months. They’re also a great way to save money on kids clothes!

However, working within them can be tedious, and even when I post things like “Must be willing to meet [DESIGNATED SPOT]” people overlook the details and often waste my time. Plus, I’ve found that people are much more likely to try and barter when they can hide behind their computers. It’s so much easier to have people come to me and try to get everything sold all at once.

So while garage sales may require a few more hours of prep work than selling online, they can be much more profitable in the long run, provided you make an effort to make them profitable.


how to organize a successful garage sale

Are you a “sailor” or a seller?

What are your thoughts on garage sales versus Facebook resale groups or Craigslist?

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Amy Ives is a vibrant and resourceful writer known for her engaging home hacks, travel insights, and money-saving tips. With a knack for turning everyday challenges into fun, practical solutions, Amy's articles are a go-to for readers seeking clever tricks and life-enhancing advice.