How To Make Money Having A Garage Sale

To make money at a garage sale, you have to know how to hold a successful garage sale. Today I'll tell you garage sale secrets and tips to make holding your sale easier and more profitable.

Gather items to hold a garage sale.

Go room-to-room and start cleaning, purging, and placing all your unwanted "stuff" into "garage sale holding boxes". Go through your closets, basement, attic, and garage to haul out your "junk". Set one box aside for items that need to be cleaned or repaired.

Ask your neighbors if they want to split the cost of a newspaper ad and hold a multi-family garage sale.

Things that sell well at garage sales include:
Sporting goods (always very popular)
Baby items
Household items and kitchen appliances
Books or magazines
Craft supplies
Kids clothes - (adult clothes usually are not good sellers unless priced low)

Choose a date.

If the biggest employer in the area pays on the first and the fifteenth of the month, schedule your garage sale for the following Saturday. After the monthly Social Security checks come out is an excellent time to plan your garage sale.

Price your garage sale items.

Put a price tag on everything, no matter how small. You should not price an item at a garage sale more than a one-third of its new price; however, you may have to price items lower than this based on their condition and age. If people start noticing high prices on your items, they are less likely to look at all of your items.

If you are trying to sell something that is fairly high-dollar and it's a popular item that appears in catalogs or sale ads, cut out the ad with the item in it (with the price showing) and tape it to your item. People will get turned off if you do it for every item you're trying to sell, so be selective.

Label anything damaged or questionable "as is".

A rule on price: You can always go down on a price, but you can never go back up. If you don’t have time to price everything individually, signs are helpful, such as "all books 25¢ each" or "anything on this table 50¢".

The bigger the item, the bigger the price tag should be. If you're selling a dresser - you can't expect the buyer to be looking all over for a tiny sticker. Take a full sheet of paper or an index card and put the price and list any good selling points or flaws: "Dresser - $100 Firm - only three years old".

Put books and CDs in boxes arranged so the titles can be easily read by the customers.

Make it easy for yourself to total items - price things evenly : 25¢, 50¢ and $1. Don't use odd prices like 30¢ or 80¢. It just makes it harder to add things.

Often you have to pile items up on tables to make room for everything. Spread items out as the day goes on and your items begin to thin out.


Call your local newspaper about a week before the garage sale, and buy an ad that will appear the day before and the day of the sale. The ad should give people the time and place (if you don't want early birds to show up at your garage sale, consider only including the number and name of your street - 200 block of Maple Street) and highlight any items which might draw a lot of people to the garage sale. Limit the items you list.

Place signs on bulletin boards at stores in the area of the garage sale during the week before the sale.

If you are unsure of what to say in your ad, read some other ads and copy bits from them.

Set the sale up.

Be sure all items will be openly displayed so that people don't have to dig through boxes to find things.

Arrange all items on tables or where ever you are going to display them the day before the sale. Keep the table in the garage or storage area overnight.

The morning of the garage sale (or the evening before), go to the bank and get $50 in $1s, $5s, and change. BUT, if you have a lot of higher priced stuff, start with more money. For instance, if you have a lot of $10 items, most people will probably give you a $20 bill and expect change.

Put the money in a cash box.

Making and setting the garage sale signs.

If you use crayon to make your signs, the lettering won't run if it gets wet. Make the lettering extra extra wide.

Consider buying cheap wire landscaping fencing, cut sections apart, and draw your sign on a paper bag. Put the paper bag over the fence and staple the bag closed at the bottom. Drawing arrows on the signs helps. Don't try to cram too many words on the signs. All that's really needed on signs are the words: garage sale, the date of sale, the street name and a bold arrow pointing the way.


Garage sales are more relaxing with background music. Have easy-listening middle-of-the-road type music on. Customers can discuss potential purchases privately with their shopping partners without feeling like they have to whisper.

Display some of your more interesting items at the end of your driveway to act as a magnet to lure people in. Some people will just drive by slowly and take a quick look to determine if it looks worthwhile to stop.

Consider being stationed closest to the street. It prevents people from "forgetting" to pay for an item and you can also easily answer someone who drives by and asks, "Do you have any children's clothes?"

Set out power tools in plain view of the road, and you'll get more business. Wives will find it easier to get their husbands to stop. You could set up a small table with nothing but "man-things" (jars full of screws and nails, electronic parts, tools, etc.) This gives the men something to immerse themselves in while the women find all the real treasures.


Have lots of coins and small bills available to make change. Do not leave your money laying around in a box. A carpenter's apron is perfect because you'll always have your money with you. Occasionally, divert some of the larger bills to either a separate compartment or to a secret location in your home.

If you are running out of change and someone is trying to haggle a price down, be willing to negotiate if the buyer has the exact change.

If you are selling electrical appliances, have an electrical outlet handy or a long extension cord.

Don’t allow strangers in your house, either to try out appliances or to try on clothes, or to use the bathroom. If they need to use a restroom, give them directions to the nearest fast-food restaurant.

Some buyers will expect you to bargain with them. If it's early in the morning and you don't want to bargain, just say "I think it's worth that price, but I may lower the price later in the day if it doesn't sell."

Have plastic grocery bags available to put sold items in. If selling breakables, have newspaper available to wrap fragile items.

Having a calculator handy is helpful in totaling up purchases.

If someone hands you a bill, leave the bill out in view until after you have given them their change. Put the bill under something like a paperweight until after you hand the person their change. Otherwise, a dishonest person could say afterwards "I gave you a $20, not a $10".

Don't hold items without a deposit.

Greet visitors and be friendly.

Garage sale scams.

Distraction is a common tool that garage sale thieves use. Sometimes they may bring a small child and let the kid loose at the sale, hoping that the seller will watch the child while they are busy shoplifting.

A shoplifter may try to be less obvious by just taking the actual item (like pocketing a CD but leaving the empty case), or opening a box with an item inside - pocketing the item - and then leaving the empty box on the table so it doesn't appear obvious.

A scam artist may try to "help" the seller by totaling the prices of the items they want to purchase. Probably 99% of the time, it's an honest buyer just wanting to save time and be helpful. But if something doesn't feel right, you can tell the customer a little fib and say that you need to check all the items because you are selling some items for a friend and have to keep the money straight.

A scam artist will ask the seller if they have change for a $100 bill because they want to make a purchase. They purposely show the bill and flash it. As the seller checks their cash, the customer quickly puts the bill back in their pocket but holds their hand out, hoping that the seller will be confused and give change back for the bill that was never given to them!

When someone buys a large item (such as a suitcase), its always good to check inside of it. You can just say that you want to make sure you didn't leave anything in it. A dishonest person may have stuffed a bunch of unpaid items inside.

When selling small valuables, designate one person to watch over the table.

For safety reasons, its best to have another person or persons help you conduct your garage sale. But if you can't, you can pretend to have someone else with you - just yell into the house "Hey Mike, bring me a cup of coffee when you get a chance".

Have a cordless phone or cell phone on you at all times.

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Valerie said...

One of the many online sites you can use to advertise your garage sale for free is

It's more than just a listing... your sale shows up on a map that visitors can print out (complete with turn-by-turn directions to each sale).

And don't discount craigslist, another good source for free advertising.

story teller said...

Great ideas, Valerie. Thanks for sharing!

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