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How To Make Money At a Garage Sale (7 Steps!)

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  • Post last modified:August 20, 2023
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Yard sales, garage sales, estate sales – whatever you want to call them, these weekend treasure hunts can be a great way to declutter your life and make a little extra cash.

And If you think garage sales are just for clearing out unwanted stuff from your basement, think again.

Do it right, and you can easily walk away with overflowing coffers.

I’m talking hundreds, even thousands depending on how much time and effort you put in.


Read on for my best tips and tricks on how to make money at a garage sale, from choosing the perfect date to pricing items to entice bidders, I’ll walk you through how to transform your unwanted clutter into cold, hard cash.

Keep reading!

How To Make Money At a Garage Sale (Step By Step)

Here is the step-by-step approach on how to make money during garage sales and make the most profits.

You are free to do adjustments according to your situation, I am just sharing with you what worked for me.

Step 1: Pick the Ideal Weekend for Max Turnout

Choosing the right date can make or break your success.

Avoid scheduling your sale on holiday weekends or when there are major events happening in your area.

Choose a Date

Trust me, you don’t want to compete with 4th of July parades or the big annual craft fair downtown.

Aim for normal spring and summer weekends when lots of people are out and about looking for activities.

I’ve found Saturdays to be best, with Fridays a close second. Some people extend their sales to Sunday afternoons to catch stragglers, which can work too.

Personally, I like to do three straight days – Friday through Sunday morning.

It allows me to capture both early bird buyers who come ready to spend on Fridays, and deal-seekers looking for mark-downs on Sundays.

No matter if you do one day or three, be thoughtful about the timing.

Avoid scheduling your sale too early in the spring when the weather can be iffy, or too late into fall when buyer attendance drops off.

I try to hold my sales between May and September to maximize turnout.

When you’ve chosen the perfect date – start gathering the stuff that you want to put on sale! Which reminds me…

Step 2: Gather Items To Sell

Now for the fun part – rummaging through your home for buried treasures to unearth and sell!

Take inventory of items you no longer use: kids’ outgrown toys and clothes, kitchen gadgets you never touch, and purchases that have been collecting dust.

Price Items Early

Your forgotten belongings could be cash cows waiting to be milked!

I like to start in the garage and attack all the random boxes we shove in there. Old sporting equipment, power tools we no longer need, decor pieces I’m over – it’s a goldmine!

Then I comb through bedroom closets, the basement, the attic, and store rooms pulling potential candidates.

Don’t forget to peek under beds and in hidden storage spaces to uncover items you may have forgotten about.

My secret weapon is cracking open holiday decor bins – I inevitably find ornaments and decor I’m ready to part with each year.

Categories to look for:

  • Clothing, shoes, and accessories in very good condition
  • Home decor – lamps, rugs, artwork, unused pillows
  • Kitchenware – gadgets, dishes, utensils you don’t use
  • Knick-knacks, collectibles, vintage goods
  • Toys, games, and puzzles the kids have outgrown
  • Sporting equipment, bikes, camping gear gently used
  • Small electronics – DVD players, stereo equipment, etc.
  • Power tools, hand tools, hardware that’s still functional
  • Garden supplies, outdoor furniture that’s clean and intact
  • Furniture that’s in style and gently used
  • Baby items – clothes, gear, toys, books

Be ruthless about tossing anything that’s broken, stained, or coming apart at the seams.

Ask yourself – “would I buy this if I saw it at a yard sale?”
If not, into the donation pile it goes.

Step 3: Clean and Organize to Spotlight Your Gems

Once you rather all the items that you want to put up on sale, it’s time to transform the piles into eye-catching displays.

You can start by thoroughly cleaning each piece – wiping down, laundering, dusting, polishing.

You want items to look as close to new as possible.

Steam or iron clothing, wash glassware and dishes, clean smudges off electronics.

Display Items Neatly

The cleaner something looks, the more valuable it will appear.

Then you can group similar items – clothing on one table, toys in one area, books in another, etc.

Breaking it into categories makes it easy for buyers to zero in on what they’re looking for.

Use every display tool you haveclothing racks, shelves, folding tables, crates and baskets.

You can visit thrift stores ahead of time to find inexpensive racks and display pieces.

Drape or fold clothing neatly, stand up books and decor, arrange toys by type. Create little vignettes that invite browsing.

Place true eye candy pieces – jewelry, antiques, collectibles – up front to draw people’s attention.

Have a charger and extension cord handy to show electronics work.

The night before, do a dry run by setting up everything as you intend so the space is sale-ready at dawn.

Step 4: Price to Sell, But Don’t Shortchange Yourself

A huge mistake first-timers make is pricing things too low.

Don’t undervalue!

It takes some work, but take time to research accurate prices.

Create Combos

I browse similar items on Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace to see what prices they’re listing for.

Watch a few random Garage Sale pickup videos on Youtube to learn how people are pricing their stuff.

Consider the condition, brand, and desirability of each piece when deciding what to charge.

If it’s a rare or collectible piece, charge a premium dollar. If it’s well-loved but still usable, go lower.

My typical pricing targets:

  • Adult clothing – $5-15 for name brands, $3-8 for basic brands
  • Kid’s clothes – $2-5 for name-brand pieces, $1-3 for basics
  • Shoes – $5-20 depending on condition and style
  • Home decor – $5-15 for small items, $15-50+ for large furniture
  • Kitchenware – Pricier gadgets $10-25, dish sets $20-50
  • Collectibles – Research rare items to verify real value
  • Toys and games – $1-5 for basics, up to $20-50 for higher end
  • Small electronics – 30-60% of original retail cost
  • Tools – $5-30 depending on type, brand and use
  • Appliances – Depending on age, $20 to $200

Use stickers, tags or labels to clearly mark prices on every item. This will make your sale much smoother when crowds arrive.

Pro tip: Price things to sell, but leave room to negotiate. If someone tries to bargain you down a few dollars, you have wiggle room.

Step 5: Spread the Word Like Wildfire

You have all the items staged and priced?

Excellent! Now it’s time to blast the news far and wide that your sale is on.

Create Garage Sale Signs

Here are my go-to tips for getting maximum exposure:

  • Online classifieds – Craigslist is gold for listings in the Garage Sales section. Run ads for 1-2 weeks beforehand, then again a few days prior. Mention highlights – “high-end baby items” or “retro video games” to attract specific buyers.
  • Facebook – Post on the facebook marketplace, upload pictures to attract buyers, create an event to share on your personal profile. Post in local yardsale groups and Buy/Sell community groups. Run Facebook ads if you want to invest a little. Photos really help sell the sizzle here!
  • Lawn signs – About a week before the sale, pepper high-traffic spots around your neighborhood with eye-catching signs. Don’t just say “Yard Sale” – add dates/times/locations and buzzwords like “HUGE SALE!” to grab attention.
  • Friends and family – Email your contacts, and post on social media. Ask loved ones to help spread the word to their networks. The more chatter, the better.
  • Print ads – Check out low-cost classifieds in local papers, neighborhood newsletters, and bulletins. These still reach folks not glued to social media.
  • Flyers – Old school but still effective – place flyers on community boards at libraries, cafes, etc. I include big photos of my best items on them.

The goal is saturating every channel possible to bring in more buyers. Don’t be shy about promoting – it’s all about getting bodies browsing.

Step 6: Gear Up for Go Time

It’s game day, baby!

Time to set up shop and unlock your sale’s profit potential.

The early bird gets the worm here, so set your alarm accordingly.

I like to be up by 6 Am to start hauling everything into the garage or driveway display areas. Aim to have all your tables, racks and shelves fully loaded an hour before “open.”

For me that means brewing coffee by 7 Am, arranging by 7:30 Am, and officially ready to sell by 8 Am.

Early shoppers are hardcore and will already be lined up and down the street.

Greet everyone with friendliness and give them time and space to browse without pressure.

When someone seems interested in an item, casually mention, “feel free to set that aside while you keep looking!”

When asked for prices, be flexible in your negotiations. I typically let things go for around 75% of my sticker price. $8 instead of $10 gives buyers a sense of victory.

Pro tip: Have a buddy or family member handle running the register and bagging items. This allows you to focus 100% on engaging customers and answering questions.

Make change quickly so you don’t lose sales, and accept both cash and mobile payments like Venmo or Paypal.

As the day goes on, suggest shoppers swing back by later in the day for mark-downs. And speaking of which…

Step 7: Mark Down and Sell Out for Max Profits

When foot traffic starts slowing down in the afternoon, it’s time to discount unsold goods to close the deal.

I like to do a sweep of the entire sales floor looking for items that can be consolidated or repriced. Group together like knick knacks for a “5 for $10” deal. Mark down any clothing sitting stale by 25-50%.

You can even do a “fill a bag for $5” offer if you have lots of random smalls you want gone.

Take reasonable offers on bulky items you’d rather not haul back inside.

The goal of the markdown frenzy is to sell off as much as possible so you make extra room in your home and pockets. Even selling something for a few bucks is better than packing it away or donating.

Any true duds that don’t sell even on super discount get donated or responsibly recycled.

Then do a final tally of your earnings and celebrate!

Don’t forget to deduct any costs like bags, signs, etc.

Your garage sale profits can be spent however you’d like – save up for a family vacation, splurge on a home project, tuck it away into savings. No judgement here!

Wrap Up

Well, there’s my playbook for garage sale greatness – from choosing the ultimate sale date to spreading the word far and wide, prepping your items, pricing it to sell, engaging eager crowds, and closing the deal.

Follow these tips and you’ll be rolling in more than just pocket change.

We’re talking about serious money to be made turning trash into treasure.

Happy selling!

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