How to Have a Successful Garage Sale


Ohhh garage sale season.  I’m not sure garage sales ever truly go away since Oklahoma weather is all over the place and we can have 80 degree days in February, but for me, May through September is prime time to buy other people’s treasures!  I must admit I’m a self-proclaimed garage sale queen.  I get a rush of adrenaline when I’m planning for a sale or bargaining a deal.  Finding “n-used” items for my kids or home for a great price is an indescribable feeling.   I’m all for saving a buck wherever you can.

I have been hosting a “multi-family” garage sale since, I believe, 2009.  I can’t even remember when I started but I know one thing – I can’t wait for it.  This year I’m organizing two!  Want to know how I do it? Read along.

How to Have a Successful Garage Sale
1. Research whether you need a permit.  Oklahoma City requires you to purchase one through their city office and I believe can only have a select number of sales in one year.  Edmond does not require you to have a permit and you can have a garage sale every weekend, if you are so inclined. Other cities in our surrounding area might have different requirements.

2. Decide on a date, with an optional rain-out day.  Friday sales are VERY successful, so if you can take a day off work and/or arrange for help from a babysitter, that would be ideal.  You can double your profits by hosting a two-day sale since you have two chances to sell it.  Plus, you don’t have to bargain much on the first day with the excuse of “we have all day tomorrow. I can’t go that low.”  Odds are, someone else will buy that item so don’t give stuff away too early.

I may go a bit overboard with my directions for participating in our annual garage sale.
I may go a bit overboard with my directions for participating in our annual garage sale.

3. Invite your friends to participate.  If you want to have lots of variety or simply don’t have enough stuff to sell on your own, ask a few families to join you. (Please don’t put 20 items on your driveway and call it a sale.) You will be surprised at how many are excited to join up.  You will want to keep profits separate, so create code names, color coded labels or some sort of system to differentiate what belongs to whom.

4.Start collecting boxes/tubs/tables.  Boxes are great for books, stuffed animals, CD’s/DVD’s, small accessories, FREE items, etc., where as tables are great for larger items that you want to display.  It helps to have everything in some sort of bin so it’s not just strewn all over the place outside.

5. Go through your house, room by room.  Start early on this!!  You will think of things up until your sale. Take everything out of your home to ensure you don’t use it.   I put a lot of things in my garage or attic and use this rule of thumb – if I haven’t used it in the last six months to a year, I don’t need it. Get rid of it.

6. Find/rent/create your own clothing racks.  Clothing sells SO much better if it is hung up on a hanger, which allows people to browse easier.  This includes adult and kids clothes.  Create signs with clothing prices.  If you want to make it simple, mark everything as one price with those few exceptions that you’d want more for. If you have really nice, name brand items, consider marking them separately or even go sell them at a consignment store where you can get more for them.  Just remember with clothes, people are not shopping at the Gap, so they won’t be pay you those type of prices.

7. Organize your items like you are shopping at a store and PRICE EVERYTHING.  Put kitchen items, electronics, linens, toys, home decor, clothing, etc. in their own space so it’s easy for shoppers to see what you have in that category.  I personally tend to not buy things if the item isn’t priced.  I don’t want to commit to something that I’m willing to pay $5 for, but they want to charge $15 on the fly.

GARAGE SALE8. Make EASY-TO-READ signs to direct people to your sale and make sure they lead that person directly to your sale.  Sometimes all you really need to put is “Garage Sale” with a big fat  arrow (but make sure it’s pointing the right way!)  There really is no need to list everything you have on your sign unless there is a surplus of baby items and then people might like to know it’s like a Babies R Us super duper clearance sale.  Typically if a sign is out, the sale is currently happening.  Write large clear words on bright colored poster board to catch their eye.  Cars are driving by at an average of 40mph so they can’t see your address if it is written in teeny tiny letters. And just as a courtesy, go pick up your signs once your sale is over.  It’s heartbreaking to some people {ahem} to search for a sale and never find it.

9. Start out with enough money for change and keep it with someone at all times.  Plan to have plenty of dollar bills and quarters.  Some people seem to only carry large bills, which can make you scramble for change, or send them packing to the ATM.  Which reminds me, if you are going out garage sale shopping, bring small bills.  Also, do not accept personal checks unless you know the person.

10. Keep rearranging items.  Some get lost in the shuffle or buried underneath so make sure everything gets some visual time.  You never know, it might be just the thing someone is looking for.

11. Have these things on hand: plastic bags for multiple-item buyers, masking tape, sharpies and pieces of paper to mark large items as SOLD, a trash bin, a bin to collect hangers, a calculator to keep the tally going, paper to record prices and water.  Don’t forget to hydrate!

12. If you see someone eyeing something but is hesitating, don’t be afraid to start up a conversation with them with why they need that piece.  You’ll usually make the sale.  Oh, and don’t be afraid to negotiate!

*Bonus tip!  If you want your kids to get involved, have them sell something like bottles of water, lemonade or donuts and let them keep the profit for their hard work!*

Garage sales are hard work and yet so much fun. It is quite rewarding to have those spaces finally cleaned out and a little extra moolah in your pocket. It’s a win/win, I’d say.

Are you a garage sale lover?  What are some of your best finds?



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