I asked my handful of awesome blog readers if they had any advice for how to have a garage sale. And many of them got back to me with a wealth of great info. It’s interesting to note that from the American South, to the American West, to small town Australia… all garage sale advice was pretty much the same.
I thought I’d share their pearls of garage sale wisdom, in case YOU were thinking about having a garage sale, but didn’t know where to start…
Best day of the week:
Saturday only. I can’t bear 2 days and it seems like most people are out on Saturday. -KathyRo
“I think Saturday’s best. We’ve done two at my mom’s house, both on Saturday, both went really well.” –Joe
What time to start:
Brace yourself: people show up early. -KathyRo
“Get an early start. We thought we’d start at, like, 8am the first time. There were people on the front lawn at 7:30 as we were still bringing shit out. It’s a real scene, man. Yard sale folk take this shit serious. The good news is that probably means you’ll be done sooner than you expect to.” -Joe
Really, whatever time you set it for, people are going to show up 30 minutes before-hand, so go ahead and be ready. But the good shoppers are always out early, so start at 6:30 when people still have money and looking to buy is your best bet… later than 9:30, or so, and everyone is shopped out. -soundtek
How to advertise:
Decide on a date and then advertise for it — whatever is best for your area (paper, Craigslist, online, etc). Also, make poster board signs in neon colors with directions on main streets so more people will see them, and also place them all the way to your road/house — people out looking for yard sales will stop by whether they’ve seen the ads or not. And yes, you do want a million people to show up — get rid of your stuff early and be done with it. Once you are done, take down all the signs, and if people don’t see any sign of a yard sale (or lingering junk), they wont stop by. -soundtek
I’ve seen ads in local papers, “Nickel Saver” types publications, community message boards, Craigslist, Facebook groups, and the timeline neon poster-board — but be considerate of your pole climbers/service-people and don’t put nails or staples into telephone poles. Have a couple of signs posted, people will find you. Don’t be worried about too many people, be more worried about putting a ton of work into it and having to haul a big load to Goodwill at the end of the day. –Sarah Brewer
Put up signs the day before. Like mid-afternoon-ish. Use lots of arrows. Keep it simple. Arrows, address, “YARD SALE!” That’s it. Maybe use brightly colored paper and laminate if you can. No crafting necessary. Again, it’s a total thing. People just see arrows and go for it.
You could also use Yard Sale Search. -Joe
I would say that it is SUPER important to put ARROWS on your signs that you put in the neighborhood. I hate there just being a small address listed, and I don’t know where the street is! When I had a sale I had a lot of people say that they came because they saw the signs and followed the arrows. I started with a main corner and put signs on all corners where people had to turn. –Kristin
How to price items:
Price by categories if there’s a lot of stuff (25 cent per baby-item in pile, etc). Then price individually if there are bigger pieces.
I would only price the bigger items, but be willing to haggle. For the smaller items, have a price you are thinking about and tell them if they ask, but be prepared to haggle. And usually, for the last 30-60 minutes of the sale when things start slowing down, do $5/bag and hand out plastic bags (or boxes, whatever) and whatever they can fit in a box (except for valuables that should be on a separate table), they get for $5 (or whatever price you are comfortable with). -soundtek
Have an idea of what you want to price things at, but don’t get too hung up on it. The main goal is getting rid of the shit. Unless it’s insulting, take what they offer. -Joe
How to sell items:
Your garage sale culture is probably going to be different than mine, but the one thing I’ve seen consistently is “professional” garage sale-ers are going to undercut your prices by a LOT. Don’t be offended and don’t say yes — haggling is expected. Pretend you’re on vacation in another country. -Sarah Brewer
Sell the story of the item along with the item itself. And lower your prices as you get towards the end of the day. -Kess
Extra tips that were awesome:
Keep in mind that messy or hard-to-navigate set-ups are turn offs, like things like big piles of clothes on a table (which will turn into a HUGE mess very quickly) or a lot of things jammed into a small space. -Sarah Brewer
I also had people who came for specific things they saw in my Craigslist ad. I took pics the night before and added them to my ad. -Kristin
Organise your local op shop/charity store to come along at 1pm (or an hour after your final sale) to pick up EVERYTHING that didn’t sell. We live in a small country town in Australia, and we have two shops that have trucks for this service, so I really hope that your local stores do the same thing. This is my NUMBER ONE tip. -Jess
I also forgot… make sure you have lots of change (coins and $1 bills) and somewhere to keep the money. -Soundtek
Here’s my biggest tip:
Have at least three people on your team. Because there were times that I’d have to run into the house to get scissors, or coffee, or bringing out more items, and, while Mike was haggling, there was no one left to talk to the other garage sale people. Plus, it’s just more fun to hang out with a group during the boring down-times.
Any more advice for a garage sale virgin?