How to run a garage sale like a pro

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How to run a garage sale like a pro

Cleaning your house and noticing just how much stuff you’ve accumulated? Why not hold a garage sale? You may just be able to make some money off of things you’d likely get rid of for free!

These handy one day clean ups can turn a tidy profit, if managed correctly. Garage sales are so popular they have become a hobby for many throughout the summer. There are a lot of people just looking for what to spend their money on next, and if you work at it, it could be at your garage sale.

Let’s look at some of the best tips for running a successful garage sale.

When to hold a garage sale

When it comes to garage sales, a huge part of the question of success is when the sale is held. You won’t make a lot of money trying on a rainy Tuesday, but a Sunday night won’t help either. You need to manage carefully the time of week and year, to manage your sale in the most effective way.

Good timing can lend itself to significantly more customers coming to the sale, and thus more money in your pocket!

So when’s the best time to host a garage sale?

  • During pleasantly warm weather – warm weather makes people want to go outside, and your garage sale could be the perfect excuse. Though you can’t control the weather, if you notice you’re in a nice patch of it, why not consider hosting the sale this weekend?
  • Holidays – Holidays can help too, as even more people than normal have to have the day off, and are often looking for something outdoors to do.
  • Weekend mornings – People nearly always have the weekends free, so your customer base will be larger, and garage sale enthusiasts often go out at this time (as it’s when most other sales are held).


No one is going to show up at your garage sale if they don’t know where your garage is (or that there’s a sale there). Advertising and promotion are key components of a successful garage sale. It takes work to raise awareness, but awareness can raise cash.

Consider the following tips for advertising and promotion

  • Advertise over whatever free media (or low cost media) is available to you

◦     The local paper

◦     GumTree

  • Get your neighbours together to host a bigger street sale, likely to attract even more foot traffic
  • Line your sale up with other community events in the area
  • Use signs (PLENTY of signs)

Guide to signs

Signs are a key part of the process. Even if you’ve amply promoted your sale, people still need to be able to find it. Aim to put up several big, bold signs (with clear directions) within a 2-3km radius of your property. And remember, visibility is key here – the more people that see your sign, the more people who will likely stop by.


So you’re having the sale and promoting it well, fantastic. Now it’s time to decide what’s worth selling. Although you are doing this to declutter as well as to make a profit, you need to keep in mind that if your yard looks like it’s only full of junk, no one will stop by. (The opposite is also true, so choose your content wisely).

Top selling garage sale items

  • AntiquesFrom vintage jewellery to fun clothes, people love antiques.
  • ClothesThis can go either way, but well cared for clothes, like toys, can often fetch a price that is welcome on any level.
  • FurnitureFurniture is always in demand, especially with cheap and easy restoration projects all over the net. Just keep in mind people aren’t willing to pay full price for an old rocker.
  • Household items/appliancesBargain hunters will often stop by looking for older appliances. If you’ve priced the item correctly, you’ll sell out quick – and won’t have to move the item yourself.
  • Power toolsThese are big ticket items that can often go for between $50-$100, and they’re often in demand.
  • ToysGetting rid of toys declutters the house like mad, but it can also make money if you’ve taken care of the toys over the years. Why not see what you can make off of the leftovers from your long grown child?


Positioning is a key element of a successful garage sale. You want your yard to look like it’s just chock full of goodies, and you also want them to be laid out in a way that it’s easy for you to notice when people try to rip you off (or steal items). This balancing act can be helped by using some of the following tips:

  • Big ticket items at the front of the sale
  • Bundle small items (10 0.50 items for $5 still gets you the price, but it also encourages people to buy more).
  • Clean everything you’re selling, the better it looks, the more likely people are to stop and to buy.
  • Keep similar items together (this goes for similarly priced items where possible)


Now that you have the items selected, the garage sale promoted, and everything positioned, it’s time to talk pricing. People will spend at garage sales, but they are also looking to come away feeling like they have a deal. Every one is aware at the end of the day that you’re looking to ‘get rid of’ this stuff, and if you’re not careful they can do it at a loss for you.

Pricing should be done at under value, if you think something is worth $5, mark it down to $3, if you think it’s worth $10, mark it to $5. This encourages the sense people get of having a bargain, and even though you initially make less, it encourages those same bargain hunters to buy more.

Prices that are too high alienate people and cause them to leave almost instantly. No one is paying full price, no matter how well you took care of your items, it’s just not what garage sales are for.

Another tip with pricing is to colour code the items, this will make it easier for you to recall quickly the prices, and easier for people to read and understand. Use different colored stickers if you’re looking for a new system.

Preparing yourself for the sale

  • Ask for help if you know some one whose interested
  • Clean everything, position it well, and clearly price it
  • Make sure all signs are up and in place
  • Get change. LOTS of change.
  • Consider running a side game, like a $1/burger BBQ, at the same time. You may get people stopping just for the smell alone, and you’ll more than likely make your money back on meat fast.
  • Talk to people during the sale, emphasize the value of the items.

At the end of the day

At the end of the day, decluttering your house was probably a significant motivator. Anything you haven’t sold before closing is likely going into the trash, so let people know everything is $5 if they’ll purchase immediately when you’re getting ready to go inside. It may not seem like much, but these last minute purchases can add up – and they save you on clean up.

These tips aren’t guaranteed to make you a millionaire from your sale, but they will help you run a successful garage sale. Try them out, your wallet (and your house) will be thanking you.




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