Is your house bulging at the seams? Are your closets full? Is every nook and cranny filled with odds and ends? It’s time for a garage sale!

Every weekend, weather permitting, thousands of families in every city across the United States take part in one of America’s favorite pastimes, garage sales. Whether as a seller or buyer, garage sales have become increasingly popular. It is a favorite method of ridding yourself of all your unwanted “treasures” and, at the same time, making a little extra cash. For the buyers it is a chance to amass more and more plunder until they too must have a garage sale. For some of us it is a never ending circle. Ridding yourself of your unwanted possessions is sometimes the primary goal of a garage sale. Making money while doing so is frequently a secondary goal. However, quite often the main reason for having one is to raise quick cash. We all find ourselves in a position where quick cash is needed and a garage sale may be one of the best answers.

No matter what the main purpose of a garage sale, the success or failure of your sale can be drastically effected by your actions and preparation. There are certain steps one can take to insure maximizing your success. These steps should at least double the amount of money made with the average person’s garage sale. At the same time this means a similar increase in the amount of items that can be sold.

Most people do not do a lot of planning for their sale. They may put an ad in the paper, make a few signs, and do little else other than gather all the unwanted items for dispersal on their driveway. Others may go a little further. They may get others to join them and make the sale bigger, carefully price all their sale items, and make an effort to arrange their goods for inspection. And then there are others who approach the sale with care and planning. They place ads, they make great signs, they gather other unwanted goods from many sources, they are very careful with their pricing, they meticulously arrange their goods for display, and they are mentally prepared for the sales conversations and bargaining. Who do you think has the most successful sale?

This guide is written to teach you how to take the little extra steps that will mean the difference between a good garage sale and a great one. If you will follow these instructions there is no reason you can’t be twice as successful with your next sale. Doubling your money is certainly not out of the question.


If you are like me, you probably get the urge to have a garage sale at the last minute. You then start running around the house gathering unwanted objects, clean out your closet of the clothes you never wear, and cut up a couple of cardboard boxes to make signs. Then you throw everything out on the driveway, stick little pieces of torn off masking tape on some of the pieces for price tags, and put out your signs. All weekend, you run into the house when you get a chance so you can dig out another item or two that you suddenly remembered. By late Sunday afternoon, you have maybe sold a fair amount of your goods, but are all too aware there was a lot more you could have dug out to sell and more pieces you could have gotten cleaner or in better shape so they would have sold or at least sell for a higher price. When you go out to garage sales you will probably find this is the most common way sales take place. But if you want to maximize your success, you must plan. Fight the urge to just jump out and have a sale because the ten-o-clock news on Friday night said it would be a beautiful weekend. Instead, stop and grab a notebook or tablet and the checklist included with this guide. Start planning now for the sale you will have next weekend or the weekend after that. Remember, every minute you spend planning and getting ready will increase your success. Don’t rush into it. You may very well be disappointed with the results.

What to do first? Read the checklist. Then using it as a guide, start gathering your supplies and the items you want to sell. Decide if you want to go “outside” your own possessions for the sale. Write an ad for your local paper. Make a list of your major items for sale and tentatively determine your price for each. And after picking out a suitable spot, start gathering all of your sale items and place them in two stacks. One stack is for things which are clean and ready for the sale. The other is for those items which need cleaning or minor repair. Then make a “To Do” list to insure nothing is left out.

That’s all there is to it. You’ll be on your way to a successful sale. Now it time for some specifics . . .



Unless you are fortunate enough to live a major street or on the corner of one, an ad in your local paper is usually a good idea. You might consider an ad in a “bargain” paper such as “The Greensheet” or “The Thrifty Nickel”. Your ad or ads will only cost you a few dollars each and if well-written will increase your number of customers. And, of course, the more customers you have the more money you will make.

To be successful, an ad must have some specific information. You should include:

1. The date and time of the sale.

2. Your location, Mapsco grid number, and local landmarks.

3. Major sale items.

You may want to include your phone number but that may be a nuisance. However, if you have some “big ticket” items or live in an area difficult to find, it may be worthwhile.

There are some items that are always good to put in your ads. They will attract customers. Another thing that will attract customers is an indication that you have a lot to offer. This may be done with such phrases as “Five family sale” or “Twenty year accumulation”, etc.

If you have any of the following, be sure to put them in your ad:

1. Furniture 

2. Tools

3. Televisions 

4. Baby clothes

5. Antiques 

6. Guns

Here is a sample ad:

GIANT 3 FAMILY SALE! Furniture, tools, guns, cameras, and much, much more. Don’t miss this one. 07-17 & 18, 9-5 only. 2645 Sales ST. Mapsco 34H. N of NH Mall.


This is easy. Anything and everything you want to get rid out of the house. Don’t prejudge what people are interested in buying. There is someone out there that will buy absolutely anything. That doesn’t mean to put out your trash, but it does mean that even if something is out of style, old, or even broken, it may still sell. You may not want to display these pieces as prominently and they definitely should not make up the majority of your sale goods, but put them out. They may very likely do better than you might imagine. Just remember to price them accordingly, but we will get more into pricing later.

The major thing here is that you want to put out as much as you possibly can. When people come down your street they will not stop unless they see enough to attract them.

You may very well decide to branch out and sell more than just your discards. Do you or anyone you know have a hobby that produces salable items? Have you seen an unbelievable bargain somewhere such as a store selling out of a particular item or department? You may be able to buy close-outs at such a price as to make a good profit. Remember not to go overboard. Don’t buy more than you likely can sell.

How about cold drinks? If it is hot, selling drinks at drink machine prices can add to your sales. If you local city ordinances permit, so can selling home-made cookies, sandwiches, and the similar food items.

Do you have a teenager and a long water hose? How letting your teenager give exterior car washes on the street in front of the house for half the profit?

The thing to remember here is to think and keep thinking about what you else you might be able to sell. Everything you can come up with means more $$.



Your first step is deciding exactly what you want to get rid of and then getting it ready to sell. You may also wish to consider if you want to go outside of your own possessions to add to your sale. Other sources may include your relatives, friends, people you work with, and neighbors. When you approach your neighbors you may find they want to have a sale, too. If so, that is great! Don’t think of it as competition. The more garage sales there are in an area, the more customers you can attract. This is especially true with your advertising. You may be able to get your neighbor to pay for part of the ad. Remember, ads mentioning multi-family sales will bring in more customers.

After you have located your merchandise, you need to sort it. Look at each item. Is it clean? Does it need any kind of repair that you can do? Put the things that are ready now in one stack. Then take all of the other items and put them somewhere handy.

As you have time, clean and prepare these items for the sale.

Clean goods sell much faster and at a higher price than dirty ones. It is amazing how just a little Windex will greatly increase the attractiveness of a sale item. You are cheating yourself if you do not clean everything you have to sell.

Don’t wait until the day of the sale to clean things. This must be done in advance. When the sale starts you will not have time to clean and repair. Do it now.


The first rule for pricing is simple. ”Every single thing you have for sell should be clearly marked with a price. Why is that? It is because most people will not ask unless they are extremely interested. On the other hand many people will buy something they only have a little interest in if they see the item as a bargain. Most people anticipate prices to be higher than they usually are at garage sales–especially if they are interested in that item. If they want it they see it as valuable. Unfortunately, that works against you if you do not have things priced. The bottom line here, is to price your merchandise. The best way to price things is to use small labels or “dots” that you can get any variety store. Labels look much better than little torn pieces of masking tape. Nice labels with clean merchandise add to the positive appearance of your goods and will both increase your sales and your profits.

There are two strategies to consider in pricing. Should you put everything at the true selling price or do you want to leave room for bargaining. In almost every instance the latter is the best strategy. However, if you decide not to bargain, you should prominently display a sign which says “All prices are firm as marked” or something similar. Do this only if you do not have the ability or inclination to bargain. It is worth noting, though, that your sales are likely to suffer. Most people going to garage sales are expecting some bargaining and wheeling & dealing. As a matter of fact, most garage sales fanatics think of themselves as experts at bargaining. It is not unusual for someone to decide not to buy any item that they know is very under-priced just because the owner won’t come down another quarter on a five dollar sale. It’s crazy but that’s the way it works.

Your best bet is to leave room in your pricing to maneuver a little. Decide what you want for an object. Ask yourself if it is really worth it? Then decide what is the absolutely least you would take for it? Say you have a chair you think is worth $5.00 and the least you will take for it is $3.50. Price it at $6.00. The first thing anyone will probably ask you about it is “Will you take $5.00 for this?” However, if they offer $3.00 or $4.00, tell them, “No, the least I will take for it is $5.00”. They’ll either keep nibbling or walk away. If they do the latter, wait. They may come back to the object, but if they do not and start to leave, say something like “Well, I’ll tell you what. I’d take $4.00 for the chair.” Usually you’ll have a sale. Remember though, in the bargaining you can always say “No, that’s not enough.” Don’t get intimidated. Don’t pay any attention to negative comments about how they just saw one like it for $2.00 less or how it’s just not worth your price. Give a little, but stay firm above or at your minimum. If you find you are selling too many things at the least you will take for them, toughen up a little, but don’t lose sight of you get nothing if you don’t sell it for something. Just don’t get so anxious for the sales that you sell too cheaply. There is a happy medium there and with just a little practice you will find it.

If you have items you really want to sell, but are getting offers that seem too low, get the person’s name and phone number. Tell them if you don’t get your price this weekend, you may call them and reconsider their offer. By Sunday afternoon, you may decide that You would rather get rid of that item at a lower price than you had thought. if that happens, you can call them. On the other hand, someone might come along right behind the person who offered you the low price and buy it at your asking price. Taking a low bidder’s name and number will cover you either way.



One of the most important things you will do to ensure your maximum sales is to have your goods displayed in an attractive and orderly fashion. Group your similar goods together. Align things on your tables. If you have clothes, string a wire or rope to hang them on. Don’t just throw them in piles. Try not to have boxes full of odds and ends unless it is a “grab box” full of things that are all the same price (“Anything in this box for a quarter.”)

If you make signs for any of your merchandise, use a nice sheet of paper or cardboard and print neatly. Make everything look neat and organized. The nicer the overall appearance of your sales area, the higher your buyer expectations of the quality of your merchandise and the higher the price they will be willing to pay. This is one of the most important things you can do to improve the success of your sale.


 While some of your customers will come from your advertising, most will come because of the sign at the end of your street. Your signs should be very simple because they will only catch someone’s eye as they are driving past. If they have much written on them, your potential customers may not realize it is a garage sale sign. Keep it simple.

Your best bet on signs is to use poster board. You can get it at any variety store for less than a dollar a sheet. Each sheet will make one sign. White is the best color. You will also need a very broad, felt-tip marker. A black marker is best but a dark color is acceptable. However, it must be ”dark. The poster board sign may be stapled to an electrical pole, mounted on a small stick, on taped to the side of a box. Whatever method you choose will work.

Your sign should only say three things for sure. That is “GARAGE SALE” in very large letters (at least four inches high) and your address in smaller letters (2-3 inches high). The third thing is a dark arrow pointing towards your house. You may want to include one of two prime sales items such as furniture, baby clothes or tools. This should be at the bottom of the sign in letter approximately the size of the address. Do not do this unless your sign still has a lot white space. If it is too cluttered, you are in danger of people being unable to read it at all.

You do not need to put the date or times of your sale because if your signs will be new and will obviously not left over from the weekend before. You will also want to take your signs down at the end of your sale.

Put the signs at the ends of your street. If you are near a 
major intersection, put signs there, too. Make sure anyone who is looking for your house has signs all the way to your street and house. If there are cross streets along the way, put up another sign at these. Your customer must be able to find your house or they cannot buy.



If you live in an apartment or in a hard to find area, you might want to consider taking your goods to a flea market instead of having a garage sale. If you have the means to get your merchandise there, it may be a very good idea anyway. Some flea markets have thousands of customers each weekend. Your exposure would be much greater. On the other hand, these markets also have hundreds of dealers, which increases your competition. If you have good, quality merchandise and fair prices, the competition should not worry you.

A space at a flea market will cost you from $10.00 to $25.00 for a weekend. Even if you have to rent a small trailer to your goods, the increased traffic is likely to be worth the effort and who knows, you may really enjoy it.

Flea markets can be a lot of fun and are a good way to make money on weekends. Many people have begun part-time businesses at flea markets and some have developed into full-time. It is definitely something to consider. Flea markets are big business these days. One of the best markets, Trader’s Village in Grand Prairie, Texas, has over two thousand dealers and attracts over a million visitors each year. More people go there each year than to Six Flags Over Texas amusement park a few miles away.

Give the flea market consideration for your next garage sale. Who knows, you might enjoy it enough to go into business for yourself.



Is this all inclusive? Not by any means, but it is a very good start to having a super garage sale. If you take the suggestions in this guide your sales should improve significantly. There is always more you can do. For more ideas, the next time you go to garage sales yourself, look at what they are doing. Be critical. What are they doing right? What would you do differently? What attracted you enough to stop? Just keep thinking about how you can do it better next time. If you come up with some good ideas, drop me a line and let me know. I might include it in a future update and if I do I’ll send you a free copy.

Thanks for your attention. Good luck with your next sale.