Do you have a lot of items messing up your house that you would love to eliminate? Have your kids out grown clothes, shoes, toys, etc and you are not sure what to do with them? Consider having a garage sale to clear out your closets, storage spaces, and remove your clutter once and for all. Plus, you can make some money while doing so. Keep reading for the best tips for a successful garage sale and a step by step guide on how to easily have your own sale.
Preparing for a Garage Sale
The first step to a successful garage sale is preparing for the sale. Go through the logistics of the rummage sale, ask yourself these questions below, and decide on the the basics.
- Where will you have the sale?
- What are the dates of the sale? Will you have it only one day or multiple days?
- At what times will you have the sale? Will you have it go all day? Mornings? Afternoon/evenings?
- Who will all be apart of the sale? Are you going to have it by yourself or will you do it with other friends/family members?
- Who do you need to help you? Will your partner help? Kids?
- Figure out how much space you have in the garage and how many tables you will need to set your items on. Think thought where you will put things. Will you want to have items outside? What will you do if it rains – put up a tent?
Note: There are pros and cons to having your garage sale with others. Having others contribute means more help for you, more items to draw the customer in, and can be more fun with other people. However, more people means more space needed, tables, and more confusion with pricing and labeling.
How to Advertise Your Garage Sale
When you are putting all this work into having a successful garage sale, you will want to do some form of advertising to let people know about your sale and get them to come. There are free advertising options like facebook, craigslist, and local online marketplaces. Then there are paid options like your local newspaper and town magazine. These typically are not super expensive, but will cost you a few dollars. Typically the more letters or words you have in your ad, the more it will cost. Another way to advertise and lead people to your sale is to put up signs near your garage sale pointing people your way on the day(s) of your sale.
When to Advertise Your Yard Sale
Then, the next question is when will you advertise? Some local newspapers and magazines only run once a week or every other day. You will have to decide how many days/times you want to run your ad leading up to your sale. You want people to know about it ahead of time so they can add it to their schedule, but not too far in advance where they will forget about it. We ran our ads the week of our sale.
What to Put in Your Rummage Sale Advertisement
Once you know the avenues you are going use to advertise your sale and how much it will cost, it is time to write your ad. A couple notes when writing your advertising blurb:
- List the date(s) and time(s) of the sale.
- Give the address where the sale is happening.
- List a summary of what will be offered at the garage sale.
Note: When listing your items, start with items that you think will draw people to your sale. People may not read your whole ad, so list things first that will get people in the door. Also, list what you have the most of and the items that you want to get rid of the most.
Here is an ad example – what I put on facebook before my last garage sale:
Multi-Family Garage Sale – W7447 Tamarack Road. Friday, May 13 Noon-4:30p & Saturday, May 14 8a – 1p. LOTS of Girl & Boy baby, toddler, kids size 0-16 clothing, jackets, snow pants, shoes and boots. Various baby items, bedroom bedding & theme set, feeding supplies, baby & kid toys, maternity clothes. Brand new women’s shoes size 11, household items, cleaning supplies, tools, DVD players & and DVDs, small appliances, medical items & furniture, printer & ink.
Lastly, when you are advertising your sale online, it is super helpful to add pictures. Take photos of your big ticket items. Show all those clothes folded up nicely on tables. Take an overview photo showing that you have a lot of items to offer. People like to see what they are coming for.
Gathering Garage Sale Items
The most time consuming part of preparing for a successful garage sale is gathering the items you want to sell and pricing them. Because of the time this takes, start gathering your items 2- 4 weeks before your sale. This will give you enough time to not feel stressed and frustrated the week of your sale. In addition, it gives you time to think and decide on items if you are unclear if you want to sell them.
Note: Be sure to comb through your whole house for items to sell. This may include clothes & storage closets, under beds, basements, garages, kitchen drawers & cabinets, toy chests, and anywhere you store your stuff.
Next, as you are gathering items put them into piles of categories or things you will group together/put in the same table at the garage sale (shoes, baby clothes, toys, kitchen supplies, etc). Then put them into separate bins/boxes and label on the outside what is in it.
What to Price Garage Sale Items
One of the hardest parts of having a rummage sale is knowing what to price your items at. The goal is to get rid of as many items as you can so you do not want to over price. However, you want to make some money and not just give your stuff away either.
A good rule of thumb that I follow is the 10% rule. Price the item at about 10% of what you paid for it. Brand new/hardly used items maybe a little higher. But overall the 10% rule helps me when pricing items.
Also, price similar items the same. Customers may get confused if 2 of the same items are priced differently and will likely choose the cheaper one. If you are struggling on pricing your items check out a couple other garage sales in your area to see what they are pricing items so you can price items similar.
Lastly, make collecting money and pricing easier on the cashier and do not price anything less than a quarter or where dimes, nickels, and pennies are involved. Keep it simple to quarters and higher.
How to Let Customers Know the Price of Items
There are several ways to let your customers know the price of items. The least confusing way for your customers and cashier (but most time consuming for you) is to put a sticker on the item with the price. If you are doing a sale with multiple people be sure you each use different color pricing stickers.
Note: Save time pricing your items and buy stickers that already have prices on them. Just stick and your are done – no spending time labeling stickers. See an example HERE.
Another option is to have tables/bins labeled “Everything $1” or “All boots $2”. This saves time labeling each item, but the person collecting money needs to know about each of these tables/bins and what the prices are to check customers out correctly. If you are doing a one man show, than this is easy, but if you are doing a garage sale with multiple people this could get tricky.
Lastly, another way to price things is to have a universal pricing system. For example you could have “baby and kids clothes is $1″and “All shoes/boots $2” and put signs up around your sale. This also works best if you are doing the rummage sale yourself because otherwise it could be difficult to separate sales.
What to Do the Week of the Garage Sale for Profitable Results
As the day(s) of the garage sale approaches there is a number of things that can’t be done until the week of the sale. First, get your advertising out to the public. Make sure the newspaper has your ad. Then post on facebook, craigslist and any other social media avenues. Make signs to put near your sale site directing people to your sale.
Next, prep the space where you will be having the sale. Clean up your garage, front of your house, or whatever space you will be having the rummage sale in. Set up tables to display items and clothes line or racks to hang items on. Spacing can often be an issue when setting up for a garage sale. So take time to visualize where stuff will go because you want to fit as much as possible, but look presentable.
Presentation is huge when it comes to a garage sale. Make your items look nice and show well when you set them up. Fold clothes neatly and if you are stickering clothes, put the sticker in a place that is easily visible. Make it easy on the customer to move throughout your sale and get access to items.
If you plan to have most of your sale outside make sure to have a back up plan if it rains.
Lastly, decide if you want to do a bake sale or sell treats and/or lemonade at your garage sale. If you have kids this is something fun for them to do and can keep them busy during the sale. Kids are always excited to make a little money too.
How to Set Up a Successful Garage Sale Checkout Table
An important part of garage sale set up is the checkout station. You will need a specific spot for the checkout station/table. It should be located somewhere near the entrance where you can greet customers, but also see the whole sale in case someone needs help while they are shopping. There are also a variety of items that you may need throughout the garage sale to keep in a small bag/basket and/or on the checkout table:
- Plastic bags for customers items
- Cash box with plenty of change to start
- Extra stickers
- Extra paper for signs
- Tape (incase any signs fall down)
- Paper clips
While setting up your checkout table decide what form of payment will you collect from customers. Will you do cash only or will you accept checks? How about if a customer wants to pay with paypal or venmo? Decided ahead of time what you plan to do. One recommendation is to only accept checks from people you know and can contact if a check does bounce.
Ways to Check People Out
Depending on how many people you have participating in the sale there are different ways to check people out. If you are the only one doing the sale it is easy because all the money you collect is yours. Just know how much you are starting with and then subtract from the total collected.
Note: Make sure you have enough quarters and dollar bills to start in your till. I started with $100 – $10 in quarters, $30 in dollars, $40 in 5’s and $20 in 10’s.
If you have more than one person involved in the sale, then you need a way to know whose items are whose and make sure each person gets the money from their items. One way to do this is to label items with different color stickers. For example, at the sale I was a part of there were 4 of us. So there were 4 different color stickers.
Then if a customer purchases items from multiple people you can either take the sticker off and put it in a notebook/piece of paper so you can track how much money each person gets or write the amount down they sold down under their name or on their specific notebook page. Have a scratch piece of paper handy to make notes, do totals, etc if a customer has a lot of items. Finally, take your time while checking people out. Use a calculator if you need it and double check your adding. People would rather pay the correct price then check out fast and get over charged.
What to Do During a Successful Garage Sale
You have done all this prep work, gathered items, priced everything, cleaned a space, set up, advertised and now it is time for the sale. So now you can sit back and relax right?
There are a few things you can do during your sale to increase your profits. First, As people are looking around, asking them if they need any help, can help them find something they are looking for – anything specific they are looking for. If they have a lot of items they are carrying ask if you can take them and “hold” them for them. It helps them out and that way you can start tallying how much they are buying.
Next, be ready to bargain with customers. People may ask you if you will accept a price lower than you have the item marked. You can counter back or just accept the offer to guarantee the sale.
Then, during the sale when you are not busy, walk around and tidy up the space. Refold clothes, put things back how you set them up, make sure stickers didn’t fall off. Keep the presentation looking nice.
What to Do After the Sale is Over
The first thing I like to do after the sale is over is figure out how much money I made. Count up your money and subtract how much money you started with to figure out your profit. If you did the sale with others, total up each person’s sales page and see if it matches the money you collected. Hopefully you were not too far off and did math correctly:)
Before you start taking the sale down and cleaning up, think about if you will potentially have another sale in the future. This could determine how you clean up and what you do with leftover items. If you are think you will do another sale then store items in bins/boxes – keeping categories together so it makes set up easy next time.
Other options for remaining items is to bring them to a confinement shop, list on facebook marketplace or craigslist, donate to a thrift store or to goodwill, or simply throw items out.
If you think you may have another garage sale at some point take some notes on the event. These will help you easily prepare for the next sale and save you time and energy as you plan.
Here are some specific topics to jot down notes on to prepare for another successful garage sale:
- Start up Costs (rentals, advertising, stickers/supplies):
- Total amount sold
- Total profit
- How many people came
- Note what sold well, what didn’t, and what you could maybe up or lower the price on
- Keep track of the dates you had the sale and how weather was
- Note the times you had the sale open and how busy it was throughout the sale to know if should change the times
- How did your prep go and what to do the same and different next time
- Did you have enough space? Enough tables?
- Did the kids have a stand of food/drinks? How did it go?
Final Thoughts on Tips for a Successful Garage Sale
Having a profitable garage sale is not an easy task. However, knowing what to do and preparing in advance can take a lot of the stress and frustration out of the event. A rummage sale is a great way to clear out clutter and make some side cash. Follow the step by step garage sale guide above to have your very own profitable garage sale.