Having a Successful Garage Sale

By Staff

A successful garage sale may at first seem like a quick and easy way to make some cash. And while this is true, if you want to earn some decent income for your efforts, you need to tackle this project using some basic garage sale tips for success.


While a one-day garage sale may yield a desirable turnout, multi-day sales are not only going to draw in more shoppers, but will also present some creative pricing strategies.

Check your local newspaper to find out if your town will be hosting an area-wide garage sale event. Taking advantage of these organized sales not only allows for a little free advertising, but will bring in a lot more traffic as well.


Organize clothing items by men, women and children and put on separate tables. Consider placing similarly-sized garments in a box or bin and simply labeling the box (for example, “Kids Socks – $0.25/pair”). If possible, put more formal or business-type clothing on hangers and hang on a rolling rack.

Sort the remaining merchandise by categories such as toys, kitchen, books, CDs, bathroom, hobbies, sports, etc. and try to have at least a little separation between sections. Keeping these items tidy will make it easier for garage sale shoppers to sort through.


Even if you are participating in an area-wide garage sale weekend, you should still do some of your own advertising. Placing an ad in your local newspaper a few weeks leading up to the date will help bring in more shoppers, increasing your chances of having a successful garage sale.

Be sure to include your address, the hours of the sale, and any pricing specials you plan on running, or any other feature that may be unique to your sale, such as specialized or collectible merchandise.

Post signs in key areas surrounding your neighborhood such as busy intersections. If this is not an option, park one or two cars on busy streets with signs announcing the pertinent sale information.

Websites like BuildASign.com allow you to put together nice signage that you can reuse for multiple sales, or if you have neat handwriting, brightly-colored poster board and a Sharpie marker will do the trick, too.

Consider adding a quick post to Craigslist announcing your garage sale. Again, be sure to include the address of your sale, the date and hours.


Pricing is the key to having a successful garage sale. If you do not price your items appropriately, you will lose potential customers who are often seasoned bargain hunters. While some pieces of furniture may merit a higher-than-normal price tag, you should always ask yourself what you would be willing to pay for each item.

Merchandise that has sentimental value should be priced according to their actual value. Potential buyers do not consider your personal attachment when preparing to offer a bid.

If you are hosting a multi-day garage sale, items should be marked at regular prices on the first day with a gradual reduction in price as the end of the sale approaches. On the last day, prices should be slashed across the board, unless you do not mind having to deal with a large stock of leftover merchandise.

Garage sale pricing is not just about making a lot of money, it is about selling as many items as you can (which will have the double benefit of earning money and getting rid of clutter).

Clothing is generally priced by function and condition.

  • Prices for casual adult clothing, depending on the condition, can start at $.50 and top out around $8.00.
  • Business and formal attire such as dresses and suits, if in good condition, can be priced up to $6.00-$10.00 for sets.
  • Winter coats should be no more than $15.00-$20.00.
  • Shoes can fetch from $4.00-$8.00 depending on style, and socks should never be priced more than $1.00.

Brand name clothing can be priced slightly higher, depending on much the items will cost if purchased new. Here are some other general pricing tips:

  • Toys, such as dolls and board games should be priced from .10 to $1.50.
  • Electronic games can fetch up to $20.00.
  • Books, CDs and DVDs should be priced from .50 and up to $20.00 for new items or sets.
  • Televisions, microwaves and other electronics can be marked at 30% off the original purchase price, but no more than $30.00 total.

Cash Transactions

You should have $50.00 to $100.00 in change including plenty of singles, fives, tens as well as a few rolls of quarters, dimes, and nickels. Keep a calculator on hand to avoid any mathematical errors.

If there is more than one person selling items in your garage sale, be sure to track the sale of each individual’s items in a notebook so that the money can be divided appropriately at the conclusion of the sale.

Use different colored garage sale price stickers to provide a fast and easy way to identify these items, and track sales in two (or more, depending on the number of people participating in the yard sale) columns on paper.


While a garage sale implies the availability of a garage for overnight storage, this might not be an option for everyone. If you do not have access to a garage or lockable shed, be sure to remove any valuable items for overnight storage.

Use the buddy system. Work in pairs, at a minimum, and never leave the cash box unattended.

If large amounts of cash accumulate in your cash box, consider counting out $100 or so and making a “drop” by hiding cash inside your house and out of view of garage sale shoppers.


Any merchandise that has not sold at the conclusion of your garage sale can be donated to charity. Some charities require prior approval of donation items, so before you load up your truck and head to the local drop-off, you may want to call ahead to make sure they will accept your merchandise.

Be sure to use proceeds from the garage sale to pay for any advertising costs, materials, or other expenses associated with having the sale. With what’s left, use it to get out of debt or add to your emergency savings. Whatever you do, don’t spend it at your neighbor’s yard sale!