Garage Sale Tips: 9 Ways to Make More Money

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Late July and early August is one of the most popular times for people to move out of rented houses and apartments and into new ones. Whether you’re a recent college graduate moving to a new city to start your new life, or like me who recently moved a family of four across the country from New York to Oregon for a job you may find yourself in a peculiar “in between homes” place in your life. Will all of my old furniture fit in my new house? Are my kids’ beds worth bringing if they are just going to outgrow them soon anyway? Moving houses is a great time to make way for a garage sale!

In fact, you don’t even have to be moving across the country to be an inbetweener. All of us go through stages in our lives where we outgrow the need for belongings to make way for the new. So whether you’re moving across the country or changing your style, there are some tips that you should be aware of to make the most money possible in your garage sale.

Yet many people find themselves steering away from garage sales because you just never seem to make as much money as they feel their items are worth. The trick to a financially successful garage sale is to treat your sale like a business and spruce it up a little! We’ve created these tips to help you create the most financially successful garage sale in your power! After following our advice you’ll not only be able to get rid of your old things, but make money in the process.

Tip 1: Get to know your customers

Perhaps the best way to sell the most items possible at your garage sale is to get to know your customers as they are shopping. This is a great tactic for two reasons: you might be able to pick out something that your customer had not noticed on their own and you may be able to finalize a deal by adding in a freebee. You’re neighbors after all, so starting conversation shouldn’t be too difficult.

If you have a customer shopping for a lawnmower for himself maybe you could throw in a free gift for his wife that will ultimately convince him to seal the deal! Is a new mother thumbing through clothes for her baby? Maybe you could throw in a free stuffed animal for the baby as well! People are more likely to buy your old things—and more of your old things—if they have a great experience while shopping.

Tip 2: Keep change on you

In this day and age it’s not terribly common to pay for things in cash except for in the case of garage sales. This is also tricky because garage sale items are notoriously cheap. If you are selling some books for $2, for example, and a customer wants to pay for them using a $20 it’s important to be prepared. If you don’t have enough change on you to break a potential buyer’s large bills you might miss out on closing a sale.

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Prepare for this by creating a bank ahead of time to keep on you with a fanny pack or a safe box. Put about $50 of smaller bills in the bank so that you will have change on hand if you need it.

Tip 3: Price your items accordingly

What are you trying to do with your garage sale? Sell as many items as possible to get them out of your way or make a lot of money?

If you are just trying to get rid of old things and don’t really plan on bringing in a lot of cash keep prices super low. You’d be surprised at how many strange things people will buy if they cost less than $1!

If you’re really trying to make money though you should price valuable items higher, but don’t plan on getting rid of them in the first round of garage sales. People don’t go to garage sales to pay full price, they go to find deals that they can’t find in the store. For a great item your customers might be willing to fork out a little more than the average garage sale price, but you’ll have to be patient.

Tip 4: Go Gourmet

The stereotype of a yard sale is a lot of clothes and old-fashioned music (ever heard of an eight track?). It’s important to ensure that people have something special to look at!

What that special draw is remains up to you. Some ideas are a nice tool set, a recent high-quality television or entertainment center, or perhaps some well-researched antiques with bona fide backstories and legitimate claims to fame of some sort. Whatever the draw is, a high-class item is a must to get shoes on the sidewalk!

Tip 5: Be Specific and Be Online

When you host a yard sale, you must make sure that potential shoppers know the dates and times, the location, and the types of schwag on offer. And don’t be afraid to be specific–especially with high-end merch! If you’re getting rid of a particularly wide array of sports gear, be sure to advertise the specific: do you have a $1,000+ bicycle? Full-on hockey gear? An entire fly-fishing kit? Be specific, or sport-specific enthusiasts won’t bother dropping by.

As far as where to advertise, make sure that you hit up the predictable websites as well as the neighborhood and office: ads with plenty of specifics–or even better, specific ads for multiple items you have on offer–can go a long way. Check out Pinterest, Facebook, and even Twitter (with appropriate hashtags like #local #sale) to maximize your selling potential.


Tip 6: Be Neighborly

One way to guarantee a high-profile event is to bring others into the fold as co-sales-people, and turn your yard sale into a block party–or at least, a block-sale.

If you and a neighbor (or even better, neighbors!) collaborate on the timing of a yard sale, then advertising can be spread wider within work networks and on farther streets–drivers are more likely to respond if they know there are multiple destinations involved. Sharing costs at Kinkos is an added advantage to joint yard sales.

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Tip 7: Navigate Your Networks

Most of the shoppers for a yard sale are likely to be from nearby, or at least from your workplace network. Therefore you need to create local advertising more than ten days prior to your yard sale. In addition to geographic neighbors, officemates and others in your apartment or condo are likely to be critical to creating a successful atmosphere and yard sale, so be sure to post flyers in those places as well. And don’t forget Facebook!

Capitalize on the people you know to get a crowd gathered–nothing brings in the shoppers like a bunch of folks battling over your junk!

Tip 8: Allow for Early Sales

In addition to raising awareness of your sale, early flyers enable colleagues, neighbors, and others to put in an early bid for desired items. Noting this possibility is an important tactic, so make sure to list the number of times that you will be available prior to the actual sale.

Friends and building-mates are likely to respond early and grab items before they hit the day-of tables. Early sales like this enables the lucky few to feel like they’re getting a deal–and lets you guarantee that more items will be out of your hair.

Tip 9: Showcase your Schwag

A random box of junk isn’t going to move, but a subtle and attractive table of used merchandise is going to be gone before you know it. Use large tables to spread out your product, highlighting the high-end pieces, while storing the filler in the garage. But be on top of your showcase tables! If you sell a few items, make sure to bring in secondary sellers from the garage so as to make sure the appearance is tip-top and that you never look empty. Nothing deters future owners like the impression that there’s nothing to buy.

Following your favorite retailer is a good play here as well. What sort of music do they play? How do they highlight their sale merchandise relative to their fancier pieces? Are there other aspects of their showrooms–think lighting, display, or even advertising–that you can appropriate for your own purposes? If so–do it! If you want to sell like the big guys, act like the big guys!

Garage sales are a great and simple way to get rid of old things, make some cash, and get friendly with your neighbors! By taking into consideration these simple tips you’ll be able to optimize your experience and make your garage sale the most profitable in the neighborhood no matter what you’re selling!

Do you have any garage sale tips that sellers should know about?
Let us know in the comments!


By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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