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10 Tips On How To Have a Profitable Garage Sale

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We had a garage sale for 2 weekends and we made nearly $3000 in sales.

We sold about 50% at the garage sale, and the other 50% by posting about the garage sale online!

Isn’t that crazy? We don’t even live in a gigantic city, and we had extremely low expectations. We used common sense tactics, organized our items and strategy thoroughly, committed the whole way through, and were determined to make some sales!

If you need an extra hand on how to sell things you own, we have an A-Z guide! The key is to using common sense. 

It isn’t hard to have a successful garage sale if you have all the puzzle pieces in place. I found this super amazing checklist which helped me organize, margine for profits, and have all my ducks in a row. 

Below is a complete guide on how we ran a successful garage sale!

Pick your dates and commit

Multiple days work better than one

When we decided to have our first garage sale, the first thing we did was pick 2 extremely busy weekends in our city. We chose Easter weekend, since we lived in a small city that many people were traveling to and though. Since we knew people would be traveling through the main 2 drags, we set up signs alongside so it was visible for all!

Many older gentlemen stopped and all made the same remark: “It’s so nice to leave the Easter crowd for a little while! I was getting overwhelmed. The women sure know how to chat up a room!” Most of them ended up bringing their wives, family, and friends to peek at our garage sale the very next day, or later that evening. 

We were nervous that it wouldn’t be a hit during the weekend, but we were determined to advertise starting the Monday before the weekend. By Saturday morning, we had at least 15 cars waiting for us to open up the garage doors. We ended up opening the garage door 15 minutes early because of the pile up! It proved that our marketing was effective!

We had decided to do 2 weekends, with plenty of notice, just in case the Easter weekend was a flop. It turns out, our bigger items had people driving from 5+ hours away, and our planning ahead earned us $1000 extra.

Our planning ahead truly served us, because people had over a week and a half to plan to pick up large items who weren’t in our area. 

Advertise with bright, clear signs

We went to the dollar store, spend $15 on different poster paper, markers, balloons and hung them up everywhere.

We made sure to use the fluorescent, thick paper and jet black marker. It was a tad more expensive, but we knew it would be more appealing to the eye, and attract more potential buyers!

The biggest compliment we had received was how neat and tidy our signs were.

Most people had noted to us that often times, they have to pull over to understand the sign. Ours was so appealing and clear, they barely had to slow down! Talk about a good first impression.

Read this for some inspiration on advertising (with or without signs!) and choosing dates! We found that this is one of the best ways to leave a positive feeling about your garage sale, and yet such a simple gesture. 

Social media posts do wonders with clear posts

As a woman of social media expertise, I decided to take some clear photos of items, and get everyone on our local buy and sells excited. I posted in 4 different groups, with a positive message, alongside the clear pictures.

Many people commented how our post had let them have plenty of time to make room in their busy schedule for the garage sale, as well as discuss it with friends! Planning ahead, while posting on social media, was one of our biggest drives in sales. 

Payday + child tax day

I generally suggest waiting for the 1st of the month, or 15th! In Canada, we also get “child tax” on the 20th of each month, and earlier if the 20th lands on a weekend or holiday. Planning your garage sales around those days ensures people have cash to spend! It is an easy sales tactic. 

We were lucky and not only had Easter after child tax, but we also had it after most people had payday! This is strategic, and ensures a profitable weekend. People were less hesitant to purchase little knick knacks.

Organize your garage sale

Categories 

This is the easiest step out of the entire garage sale! We had everything in sections: shoes, clothes, dishes, dvd’s and cd’s, toys and crafts, electronics, and tools. This was easier for people to gravitate to a section, just in case they are looking for a particular item. 

You see, if you have the tools with the toys, and shoes with the dishes, people are going to look at the sale as more “junk” and unappealing than anything. You want to ease the eyes, and ensure it takes less brain power for them to scoop up a good find!

I also found that after the garage sale was complete, it made packing up whatever was left a breeze! I strongly encourage this step, if it is the only thing you take from this article.

Display popular items out front or in the open

We had 15 big items we wanted gone: multiple dog kennels, multiple saddles, tons of horse equipment, inversion table, a sewing machine, and big tools. By displaying them when people first pulled up or walked in, they were drawn to it.

Many people didn’t buy the big items themselves, but they sure sent friends pictures and information! We had a handful of sales just from word of mouth. 

Our bigger, more profitable items were gone within the first 6 hours! Think smarter, not harder. Sometimes it is about the placement, and not the actual pitch of the item. I think it helped we had tons of walking room, which made our more profitable items feel like they were on display and special.

Items in bulk (ex. Crafts; CD’s; DVD’s)

I know I had mentioned to place everything in categories, but don’t be afraid to sell things in bulk, or price them to choose in bulk either. I found we got rid of so many items, and people love the idea of bulking items.

Ex. “5 for $10 movies” or “10 for $10 cd’s” or “10 for $10 craft supplies”

If you are feeling super thrifty, add a “deal”. Instead of just 5 for $10 movies; you could also add on 10 for $15 movies! People feel as if they are saving an extra $5 by buying more, when you are truly trying to get rid of more, and make more! It is a win- win situation for everyone. 

Supplies

We only spent about $10 on signs, and maybe an extra $5 to make sure we had extra stickers, paper, and markers. We had extra grocery bags in the house, used our phone as a calculator, obtained an extension cord for any electric items, and made a change bucket with an old coffee tin. 

I found having extra grocery bags was helpful, too, because people decided they could indeed purchase more items because they now had room for them. We had a $2 clothing bin, or $5 a grocery bag. People went bananas for the clothes, and we got rid of so many rubbermaid bins.

I found this article was my honest inspiration for grabbing bags!

Having a calculator was definitely a good second must- have! We liked to make sure everyone knew that we weren’t ripping them off, and it provided comfort to them.

Our list of supplies included: stickers, markers, change, a change bucket, extra paper, extension cords to check electronics, and extra grocery bags.

Detail oriented

Clean your items

Would you rather buy a dusty item, or a sparkly item?

Do you think that clean dishes are more appealing than dusty ones?

Would you pay more for something that looked kept in good condition?

Would you be more drawn to clear items, or rusty ones?

These were all questions I had asked myself. I took a good 10 minutes and a bucket of hot, soapy water and wiped every item I could. Our items had transformed from old and dingy, to beautiful and full of potential. I truly think it made the pictures more enticing.

Some of the glass items went quickly because of how shiny they had been. Although this step was tedious, I did see a great return of investment on my time.

Fold or neatly stack items

When we had placed all of our clothes out, we neatly folded and layered them so you could fit as many on the table as possible. It was extremely visibly appealing, and left us with so much extra room. Everyone was able to see exactly what we had, and the neatness had reduced a ton of headaches.

People come to garage sales with low expectations, so when we exceeded them, we found they were more likely to buy because of our set up. Everything looked more interesting, thoughtful, and they had to use less searching. 

In case something was ever to get stolen or misplaced, it was easy to know exactly which item it could have been, and where it needs to be! Some people get distracted and place things in odd places. I suggest doing a quick walk through at least hourly.

Display without clutter, as if it’s a storefront

Like I had just mentioned: folding and nearly stacking, categorizing, and cleaning your items concludes to more eye scanning. This instantly results in more dollar signs! If you don’t believe me, just try it out for yourself!

By treating our garage sale as more of a storefront, people had taken us a lot more seriously. We instantly had a mutual form of respect, and we were trusted more easily. It was such a simple task in setting up, but we definitely noticed the impact. 

I asked myself what my biggest pet peeves going to a garage sale was. One of them being a cluttered, disorientated mess! We worked hard to ensure that wasn’t the same complaint others had to say about ours!

Money, money, money

My favorite article of increasing garage sales taught me 5 super easy tips, which inspired me for this section! Money is the main reason for hosting any garage sales, is it not?

Change

We noticed that $5’s and $10’s were the quickest thing to go! We labeled tons of items 50 cents, $1, $2, so we ended up with tons of change. But for the bigger items, we were giving back $5’s and $10’s like crazy.

We made sure to have $100 in change in bills alone. I would recommend 2 $20’s, 8 $5’s, and 2 $10’s! I made sure to have a handful of $1 and $2, and we re-evaluated at lunch time if we needed more bills. In our scenario, we had 2 people at all times so change was never an issue if we were low. 

Of course, I suggest being fully prepared in case of any situations. If you have the funds, I almost would recommend $150 in bills alone.

That being said, I think it is safe to keep only a limited amount of money with you at all times, and do frequent money runs into the house. You never want to assume the worst, but it is definitely worth taking precaution. 

Negotiate 

When someone approaches you will the line: “What is the lowest you would take for this?” I always recommend replying with: “What were you thinking?” You can guide the conversation from there, and truly get the price out of the item that you hoped for!

Many of the men in my life also suggest starting the negotiation at a slightly higher price point, so that after the negotiation is complete, you got the value you were expecting!

That being said, if you set a ridiculous price on an item, most people won’t even bother negotiating because it seems like a waste of time. Be mindful.

Price based off of true value and not emotion

Also, be mindful that your “trash” might not be someone else’s treasure. I know that you might hold a ton of value to your old sweater collection that might not fit you. The memories, the travels, the original price… but keep in mind that the buyer isn’t purchasing the hoodies from the memories or travels!

Same concept goes for your old craft supplies, rusty tools, old shoes, and dishes!

Post larger or more profitable items online

I ended up utilizing Facebook Marketplace. I sold plenty of items using online platforms, and we ended up selling half of our profits online! Most people don’t generally decide to go to a garage sale in hopes of finding a $300+ item.

We did an honest Letgo review, and posted all about how to make money selling your used items! On Letgo, you can sell cars and vehicle parts, books, electronics, movies, DVD’s, CD’s, games, gardening equipment, baby clothing, and so much more.

Of course, keep the items appropriate. You cannot sell common sense items such as adult toys, drugs, alcohol, firearms, or live animals! 

Be a civil human being

Common sense goes a long way

My favourite quote: “Common sense isn’t so common,” and it is insanely true.

We surprisingly had an incredible amount of compliments on our ability to write clear signs, have effective communication, negotiate appropriately, carry out conversations, and price out items as such! The general population absolutely appreciates being able to talk to regular human beings, and have expectations accordingly.

My biggest advice is to not be afraid to say hello, or ask how someone is doing! Greet every single visitor, and treat them kind, regardless if they buy a single item! Know the balance between being friendly with conversation, and being overbearing. 

Most of the time, shoppers appreciate a simple gesture, but not all appreciate the warm and lengthy conversations. Leave shoppers be, unless they provoke further contact. There is no set rule, but you can generally tell by the person’s energy and attitude.

Treat the garage sale as a business

I know this isn’t advice that every garage sale expert will give. I like the idea of having set hours, regardless of how you feel, and treating those welcoming as true shoppers. Of course, there is less technical regulations and rules because it is quite simply a garage sale. The mentality really displays your heart, and seriousness of the ordeal, however.

Speaking of business terms, when you look at purchasing items for the attractive signs, time you put in creating social media posts, and neat stickers, some items we invested more in. Why did we use the term invest?

If we chose a plain white poster with a thin black marker, most people wouldn’t be so intrigued. However, investing $1 more into the bright poster paper each, and extra $1 for a thicker marker, and $5 in balloons attracted everyone to our garage sales with simple thoughts!

But, as for social mediaI am not suggesting investing in $50 of Facebook ads. You can try it out, however, and let us know how it works. We did, however, choose to edit our pictures crisp and clear, and post a welcoming message. We are attempting a smart, yet frugal approach to hosting a garage sale. 

Believe in karma

After the garage sale is complete, figure out what you want to do with the remaining items. Some of the children’s clothes, we donated to local families who needed items. We took some of the adult clothes to consignment stores, ThredUP, and other online ways that is talked about in depth here for easy cash back. We sold what we could online, and donated the rest.

There are many definitions for the term “miracle”. One of my favorite ways to describe a miracle is: “A miracle is performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less.” By donating cups, glasswear, tables, chairs, extra clothes, and tools, we believed that one day if we need help, the good karma would come back around.

Besides, where were we going to store all the leftover items after 2 weekends of garage sales, and 2 weeks of selling online? After all, it is the least we could do after trying to get rid of so many options, anyways!

We hope you found a great amount of value in this article, and feel confident in running your own successful garage sale!

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