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How To Make A Killing With A Garage Sale

By Edited May 4, 2016 3 3
  1. Build the Hype - Put postings online at places like Craigslist, and other local message boards. Put classified ads in the paper.
    By Jim Chute (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Tell your friends/family/neighbors/church - or any other group you belong to that you are going to have a garage sale.
  • When you make signs to place in intersections, get juicy with those adjectives. You don't just have a huge garage sale - your's is GIGANTIC, EPIC, RIDICULOUSlY BIG, pick your superlative.
  • Live up to the hype - a great garage sale has:
    • A lot of stuff-invite your neighbors to participate with you if your feel like you are light on items. (As a bonus you can then advertise as a multi-family sale, which will entice buyers)
    • A large variety of stuff- things for moms, kids, dads, all ages, clothing, furniture, and so on. Think mini flea market.
    • Some good quality stuff- yes, you want to get rid of your junk, but a bunch of stained, broken, and plain old ugly items won't get you anywhere. Throw a couple high end items in the mix.
  • Be easy to find.
    • Make your signs bright.
    • Include a map on your Craigslist ad.
    • If you are a ways from a main rad or high traffic area, see if you can convince a friend who does live closer to more people to collaborate with you.
    • Balloons, flags, and cones are great ways to make your sale visible from the street.
  • Price to Sell. What does that mean? It's a bit of an art form, but one you can pick up quickly. It basically means don't under or overpriced.
    By Mike Gifford from Ottawa, Canada (P1010510  Uploaded by Skeezix1000) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    • I know that you love that lounge chair from the 1970's. It's so retro, an antique even. In your mind it's got to be at least $100. No way. Slap that baby with a $20 price tag and you'll get rid of it on the first day.
    • On the other hand, if you have a whole bunch of old toys you just want to give away, throw them in a box together, and put $5 price tag for the bunch.
    • Take a constant inventory of your garage sale as it is going on. What items are selling, at what prices?
    • Finally, throw a clearance sale on the last day. Cut all prices by half or more.
  • Start on Thursday (or sooner!). The garage sale pros are out first thing in the morning, before the weekend, to try to get first pick. Be ready to start early every day.
  • Have goodies. Some real estate agents bake chocolate cookies just before they have an open house. You can do the same. Coffee on a table in the morning, and water/punch in the afternoon are easy ways to refresh your shoppers.
  • Be friendly. Make the garage sale experience a fun one for yourself and everyone else.
    • Welcome everyone who comes by.
    • Try to mingle a little. Some people just want to stop and look, but if you can help them find something they are looking for, then you are on your way to sale.
    • Likewise if someone is ready to buy, look at what they are buying and try to think if there are similar things they might have missed. "So you like blue sweaters? I have some killer corduroy pants that would look great with that." Thank everyone who stops by and ask them to tell their friends.
  •  Be a bargainer with a bottom line. People love to nickel and dime (literally, people will ask if you'll take five cents for something priced at ten). Play along, but always have a final figure in mind.
  • Plan your dates well.
    • People are often out of town on holiday weekends.
    • However, if your town hosts a big carnival or if there are big youth sports tournaments happening nearby, capitalize on the extra traffic passing by.
    • The one thing you have no control over is the weather. There are some hardy folks who will brave the elements, but if it's an awful day, you'll do better postponing until the next time you can have a sale.
  • Donate to charity when you are done. Items you give to places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army are deductible for taxes. TurboTax's donate it program will give you fair market value for your items based on their condition. IMPORTANT: If you choose to itemize this deduction, make a thorough and detailed inventory of what you are 
    donating, with photos, and the receipt from the charity you donate to. The IRS loves to chase after these types of things, so protect yourself. The donations can be significant,and add up quickly.
  • Hopefully at the end of the day you will have made other people happy by helping them find great secondhand items at bargain prices. You will have cleaned out your house and earned a little extra cash, so you can get more stuff. Just make sure you shop a garage sale first!


    Garage Sale Sign Kit with Pricing Stickers and Wood Sign Stakes (A802G)
    Amazon Price: $21.98 Buy Now
    (price as of May 4, 2016)
    This kit has anything you need to get started with a basic garage sale. Just be sure to check local ordinances about sign placement.


    Aug 28, 2013 7:41am
    I bet you will make a killing with these garage sale tips. I see a lot of sales that don't put individual prices on items. People hate that. Get a sheet of stickers and a marker and price your stuff.
    Aug 30, 2013 8:12pm
    I love garage sales, wish we could have one. Great tips, makes me want to go bargain hunting now. :)
    Sep 14, 2013 3:16am
    There is nothing worse than having to ask how much the items are. Although it can also work in your favor as while you have them talking they may spot something else. It takes a lot of patience too. Great feature
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