The Roses’ Top 10 Garage Sale Tips

You betcha, we know how to have a garage sale.  Both of us have been attending and having them since we were knee-high to a grasshopper, so we have some tips for all you first timers, or maybe you are old hands that just need a reminder.  Lots of these tips fall into the “drive us crazy” category, so let’s just say pretty much all of your attendees wish you would do these things.

10.  Pick a time.  Depending on your location and the weather, you can sometimes really clean up by having a sale just slightly off-season.  Choose really early or late in the season when there are not a lot of sales to choose from.  Sometimes us salers are so desperate, we will try anything.  This also works well if you have an indoor warm place to have the sale.  Just make sure you don’t have it on a weekend when there are a lot of neighborhood sales.  We once made the mistake of trying to have one on the weekend of one of the largest HOA sales in town.  It was dead all day.  Yes, you are going to have to haul yourself out of bed.  Starting a sale at 11 is much too late.  Lots of folks are wrapping it up and heading for lunch by then—8 am is a great time.  Still pretty cool out, but be aware, if you are having to put out all your stuff, it takes way longer than you think.  Start early!

9.  Let’s get ready for a sale.  Gather all that stuff gathering dust in your basement, attic, etc.  Bet you have a whole lot of it, too.  While it is tempting to just toss those boxes of loot out on the driveway and let folks dig, you will sell a whole lot more if you try to display as much as possible.  Beg, borrow, or steal tables, find some tarps, or use those boxes wisely.  Set books and movies on their sides so the titles can be read.  Sort clothes by sexes and sizes.  If you have time, sort out kitchen, garage, crafts, whatever categories you have.  The woman digging through your yarn is probably not going to buy that pipe wrench.


              NO                               YES

8.  Time to price:

Yep, I know it is a pain, but price everything.  If you don’t have the time to make a tag for it all, put it on tables, and say everything here is a dollar, or whatever.  Take it from a long-time garage saler, we get tired of asking.  You might have a wonderful item for just a dollar, that might get snatched up, but if there is no tag, a lot of folks assume it is high and just don’t bother.  Plus, when you get busy (and you hope you do) you won’t have time to follow every customer around and tell them those prices.  If you have more than one person selling, consider different color tags, or initials to tell things apart.  Keep your eyes open if you’re planning a sale; sometimes you can find pricing stickers CHEAP online, at thrift stores, or at other garage sales.

7.  While pricing, remember, this is a garage sale and price accordingly. I don’t mean you have to give it away, but pricing things at half of retail means most of that junk is going back into the garage that you just found room in.  Do you want to get rid of it?

Make it worth someone’s while to drag it home.  If you have a few better things, fine, just don’t make the mistake of thinking someone wants that used blouse for $5.00.  Make it a quarter and be free of it.  Heck, if you really want something gone, have a big old free box.  It is a rare free item that doesn’t go away.  I’ve seen some folks say everything is free after a certain late afternoon time.  This works wonders, and saves a trip to the thrift store with the left overs.

6.  Go get change, lots of it.  The first 10 people are pretty much guaranteed to show up with twenties, ’cause that is what they just got out of the ATM.  You need lots of ones and fives and plenty of quarters.

If you price everything in 25 cent increments, you don’t need other coins.  You will have plenty of change as the day wears on, but you don’t want to miss those early sales because they want something for a dollar, and you have no way to change a twenty.

5.  This is something I like to do: wear your money.

Instead of being tied to a table, get yourself a fanny pack, or even a nail apron (They have them cheap at Home Depot and we love this apron from Zazzle.)  That way, you don’t have to spend any time worrying about who is minding the cash box, and you can go find a warm spot to stand in, if the weather is chilly in the morning!  You can still have a table, if you have a multi-person sale, to write down who sold what.  It’s more fun with a friend anyway.

4.  Head to the store and get some bright-colored poster board.  Make signs.

Not even close

Make as many signs as it takes to get from a main street to your humble sale.  A good tip is to make them all the same bright color.  It is easy to follow the orange signs right to you.  Write big and dark. Don’t add a lot of info, just Sale, the address, and an arrow.  Don’t bother with times.  I, and a lot of salers, feel that if the sign is up, you had better be open.  When we are driving, we don’t have time to read the fine print.  Do check with your community and make sure it is OK to post signs.  In some areas, it is illegal to put them on posts, so use a cardboard box with a rock in it to make free-standing signs, or if you know a Realtor, ask if you can borrow some of their open house signs and tape your sign on them.  Just be sure to return them clean.

3.  Pick a good location for your sale.

If you live on a busy street with no parking, consider asking a friend with a better location if you can use their driveway.  Unless you are having a mega sale, a lot of people won’t walk a block to get to you.  One exception is if your neighborhood is having a sale.  Check with your HOA and see if you have a yearly one.  You can get a whole lot more folks stopping by, and this works great if you don’t have a ton of stuff to sell.  You can also go in with your neighbors and have a mini neighborhood sale.  You might also want to check and make sure your HOA allows garage sales on other weekends.  Some are really picky about them.

2.  Don’t forget to advertise.

Most folks use Craigslist these days to advertise their sales.  Your community might also have other garage sale lists.  Google and see.  Most local papers will run ads, but they cost quite a bit.  Why waste your hard-earned money on a newspaper ad when you can spend it on a margarita instead?  Make sure when you put in your ad, you list the day, date, time to start and end, any interesting items and most importantly your address!  I can’t tell you the number of times I see a great sounding sale with no addy.  If you can include a few photos in the ad, do so, as it sparks interest in your items.  Also, take the time to map it on any sites that let you.  When there are a lot of sales, those with maps take precedence for me.  As an aside, you are having a HUGE sale, not a Hugh one.  Hugh (Grant) is an actor, and not very large.

1. Most importantly, have a sense of humor.

It is not life or death, it is just a sale.  Something will probably go wrong, and you will be hot/cold or tired, or cranky.  Have plenty of coffee, eat breakfast, and keep a smile on your face.  Make sure you get enough sleep the night before!  Some dealers are jerks; don’t let them get to you.  Feel free to haggle, and it is OK to even say no to an offer that is just silly.  Ask them to come back at the end of the day, and see if that item is still here.  Lots will up the ante and you get what you need.

Hope these tips help you out.  If your garage sale goes really well, please share it with us.  If you have any tips of your own, please leave them in the comments section.




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2 Responses to The Roses’ Top 10 Garage Sale Tips

  1. OSS says:

    Great tips! We don’t do garage sales anymore because, if you do them correctly, it’s HARD work. I love shopping at well organized sales though! When’s yours? lol When the kids were young, they always had a table of baked goods and iced tea and/or lemonade. Kept the kids out of our hair and gave them some fun money too!

    • kathy & deb says:

      Thanks Dawn. We do have sales off and on. We like to have BIG sales that clean us out, so it takes a few years to accumulate stuff. 😊

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