I have been the President of the Lake Cities Moms of Multiples Group for the past 2 years. One of our primary fundraisers is doing a semi-annual garage sale, so I have learned a bit about how to make a garage sale successful over the past couple of years. Here is what I have learned from this experience, as well as doing a few on my own in the past 15 years.

  1. DATE AND TIME: Choose a date, but make sure it is not around a holiday weekend. A Saturday morning will have the most shoppers show up in my experience. Set the date well in advance so you have time to gather the items throughout your house and tag the items. Plan your opening around 7am, as garage sale shoppers like to come early. You can close up around 1 PM in my experience, as very few shoppers come in the afternoon.
  2. TAG: Tag each and every item. If you are using several sellers, then have each seller write their name on the top of the tag and then the price below their name. If the item is a piece of clothing write the size on the tag.
  3. TRACK SALES: If you are having several sellers in the sale, or if you want to keep track of sales within a family, then have every family member write their name on their tags. When something is sold, then you remove the tag and put it in a large envelope or box. That is how you track how much is sold by each person. The money goes in a cash box. Keep the tags to calculate later how much each individual made at the sale. If an item is reduced for sale then cross off the price on the tag and write the actual amount the item sold for on that tag. (We put all of our tags on slips of paper. We cut them from sheets of paper we print on our printer. It makes it easy for buyers when all the tags look the same). Below is an example, this is the tag system my club uses for our garage sales. Everyone prints them on their own computer, cuts them up, and attaches using a tagging gun.image
  4. TAGGING GUN: Use a tagging gun to attach the paper tags to your items. They are really cheap online. I purchased my tagging gun on Amazon along with 1250 barbs (the piece of plastic that holds the tag on the item) for around $10 including shipping! It makes tagging things much quicker and efficient, and tags are less likely to fall off in comparison to stickers. You will spend at least $10 on stickers alone, so consider getting a tagging gun and make your life easier! A tagging gun is very simple to use. Just read the instructions when you get it in the mail and you will be using it within minutes.  http://amzn.to/233Xkz4image
  5. ADVERTISE: In order to have a successful sale you need buyers! The best way to get buyers, in our age of social media, is to post it online! Our group members post ads for our sale in the days leading up to the sale. Especially the day and hours before you open. Then on the day of the sale post before opening and post galore! Add photos from the actual sale of items you will be selling. Post the address, time you open, and say it is first come, first serve if people are interested and respond regarding specific items in your posting. The Facebook online garage sale pages are awesome for advertising your sale. Also the buy, sell, trade pages on Facebook (you can find them by searching those terms and the area, town, city, or region too). Just make sure you know the rules for each page, to ensure they allow posting for garage sales. Here is the ad I put up in the days prior to the sale.imageWe also advertised on Craigslist. Facebook was where we got the majority of our buyers. Posting photos of actual items for sale brings people in to buy. I saved one screen shot of a posting I shared while our sale was happening. Notice, we had a JPEG photo of our advertisement flyer with all the details of the sale that I shared along with photos from the sale. Having all the details in this kind of “flyer” and saved as a JPEG makes it really easy to share on multiples pages on Facebook and social media. You can also share on your personal Instagram and Twitter, so your local people can come shop your sale too! image
  6. HALF PRICE SALE: The last hour of our sale we sell everything half price. It is a great way to sell a bunch at the end of the sale and have less to pack up for donation. Make sure you clearly advertise that you will do a half price sale and list that time. I recommend doing it in the last hour. Make sure you have enough people to help checkout during that time, as it gets pretty busy. If someone has an item they are selling and they don’t want to sell it for half price, then they mark the item FIRM on the price tag.  We also then know that the particular item will not be donated after the sale. After we close our sale all of our sellers (we had 51 total) have 1 hour to pick up unsold items. Anything not picked up is donated. I chose not to pick up anything, as it was donated to a great cause.
  7. DONATE: Have a plan of what to do with unsold items. We had a Boy Scout troop help us pack up all unsold items into 2 pick up trucks and they were taken to a local charity. It had already been arranged with the charity, so they anticipated a large donation from us. When I had a personal garage sale in Florida, I took my unsold items the same day as my sale ended to our local Kiwanis thrift shop. Be sure to get a tax receipt when you drop off items, so you can use the receipt as a tax deduction.
  8. MONEY: Go to the bank the day before the sale and get $100-200 in change and small bills. You don’t want to have to turn away buyers because you can’t make change for their $100 bill! Another tip is to keep large bills safe. A cash box should have $10 bills and lower denominations. Take all larger bills and the excess $5 bills and $10 bills and keep them in a fanny pack. You won’t have time at a busy sale to put them in the house or vehicle for safe keeping. Use a fanny pack, even though you detest the thought of ever wearing a fanny pack. I purchased super cheap and flat fanny packs online for my board members to wear during the sale, so that larger money wasn’t kept in the cash boxes. If you are helping a buyer with something, you aren’t right next to the cash box. Keeping only change and small bills in there protects you from a large loss. Here is the type of fanny packs we use. They aren’t in view either, as our shirts are pulled over them. Don’t underestimate the amount of cash you may end up handling the day of the sale. I once held a garage sale at my home in Naples and ended up with over $2,000 in cash in one day. I wasn’t even selling furniture. It was all housewares and clothing. http://amzn.to/233TN3Himage
  9. CLOTHING: Sell only clean, non stained, good condition clothing. Nobody wants to buy ripped, torn, or stained garments of clothing…regardless of how cheap they are. Even the poor and cheap have standards. Don’t insult your buyers or yourself by putting out icky things. Kids clothing sells great. Women’s clothing does not sell that well at garage sales in my experience. If you have nice women’s clothing to sell you are better off taking those items to a consignment store. Hang clothing to sell it. Clothing items ALWAYS sell better when they are hanging up versus folded on a table. Clothing racks are very helpful to have when you doing a garage sale.
  10. DISPLAY: Make your selling space as appealing to buyers as possible. Have things neatly stacked and arranged by categories. For example, books in one space, housewares in another, home decor in another, Christmas items in another area, etc.. Make sure to have items visible for people to see when they drive past, as you will get some buyers to stop simply because they are driving by and see something that gets them interested in stopping in to possibly buy.
  11. SIGNAGE: Clearly mark at the end of your driveway or front of the venue that a garage sale is happening. Walmart sells garage sale signs in their hardware department. You can also get them on Amazon. Also, have garage sale signs with arrows pointing to where your sale is located. Put the signs on a main road and indicate on each corner with a sign when they need to turn. Here is the kind of sign I am referring to:http://amzn.to/1Nx4XfJ image
  12. BAGS: Be sure to have plenty of bags. Save all your Walmart, Publix, Kroger, Target, etc bags for the months or weeks leading up to your sale. They will get good use. And look- you are recycling them too! 😉

Good luck with your sale! I hope you sell it all!!