Tackle it Tuesday-Tips for a Killer Garage Sale

If you are like me you’ve got lots of treasures (read junk) hanging around and cluttering your closets, drawers and garage. Why give your items a new home where someone will love it while making some extra cash? Here are some of my tips for throwing a killer garage sale. And of course I’d love to hear your tips as well, so feel free to comment away!


  • Craigslist You do want people to come right? I like to place a few ads on craigslist. I love craigslist since it is FREE. Sure you can advertise in your local paper but that cuts into your profits. And let’s face it, having a garage sale won’t make you rich so I try to keep expenses low. I like to place an ad a few days before and also the day of the sale.¬† Take a few pictures and list some of the items you’ll have there. For big ticket items, list the price. And also be clear about the hours. If you don’t want people hanging out before the sale or knocking on your door make it clear.
  • Email If you are selling items that your friends might want, let them know. I always appreciate when friends email me when they are selling nice clothes that will fit my kids. Second hand doesn’t mean second rate. When you are selling nice items, share the shopping tip with your friends.¬† And don’t forget to let your neighbors know. They may want to also have a sale the same weekend and you can then pool your resources to make signs and promote your sales.
  • Signs This can make or break your sale and I’m going to out myself now. I’m a complete sign snob. Hubby laughs at me but I have a theory. If the sign is nice, the sale will be nice. If the sign in written in pen on the back of a pizza box, I won’t even stop at the sale. Someday I’d love to take pictures of the signs at garage sales and then a picture of the sale just to prove my theory. But that is for another post. Moving on…good signs will lead people to your sale. Bad signs will make shoppers¬†furious. So make it easy to read, make it bold, and for heaven’s sakes, take down the signs when you are done. It also helps to keep your signs the same color to save the driver some sanity while following your signs.


  • Tidy up Try to keep like things with like things. Think of your sale like a department store. Keep things at eye level and neat. Hang clothes when possible since some people simply won’t go through bins. You can try folding clothes on tables, but there is always someone who comes along to mess up your tidy piles. I like to hang up as much stuff as possible to keep it clean.
  • Price it to Sell Let me first tell you how annoying it is to go to a sale without any prices. I am the type that likes to know how much an item is and not have to ask. I think most people are like that. So mark your price and make it clear. If you have too many of an item to mark, then make a EASY to read sign with four words or less. People do not like to read or figure out a complex system so make it simple. Also price it to sell. Keep prices low or you could even mark things at a reasonable price for one day and then have the next day with everything half off.
  • Draw Attention Do you have a canopy or awning you can put up? How about flag banners or balloons? Think of your sale like a book. If the cover isn’t enticing, people won’t pick it up to read. The same is true of a sale. Put big ticket items in a very prominent spot. And keep it gender neutral. Simply adding some tools or “manly” on the curb will draw the attention of the guys (ahem, all the power saws are actually mine in my household so please forgive my sexist remark here).
  • Make sure it is clean and in good condition If something is broken, stained, or ripped be kind and give it away for free. We live in a toss it out society and sometimes it takes just as much time and money to fix something then it does to buy it new. So be good and give it to someone for free so they can actually afford the time and/or parts to fix it. By separating junk from treasure you’ll also be able to get more for the good items and your credibility that you are selling quality items will be much higher.
  • Get lots of change Visit your bank and get lots of small bills and quarters. Don’t mark anything less than 25 cents and you won’t have to make change less than a quarter.

Running the Show

  • Keep Your Cash Close By keeping your money in an oh so stylish fanny pack, you’ll make sure no one takes off with your profits. And you’ll be able to re-live the 80’s for the day. What could be better than that?
  • Keep the Kids Busy If your kids are like mine, they like to help and feel useful. Encourage them to set up a snack table and offer shoppers prepackaged water, juice, granola bars and goldfish. Moms busy with shopping will happily spend 50 cents to keep their kids hydrated (and quiet) while they are able to shop more. Plus your kids will learn a bit about the value of the dollar and how to make change. It’s a win, win.
  • Keep you Happy Don’t forget to keep your lunch, drinks and a book on hand. Also make sure you have a comfy chair. I’m planning on being mostly by myself with the kids and I don’t want to leave them or the sale so I’ll make sure to pack a cooler for us with snacks, sandwiches and drinks. That way customers won’t feel neglected and the day will be easy with no cooking or errand running.
  • Make a Sign of your Policies I always feel the more clear you are about expectations, the less conflict you’ll have. This is true with sales. If you don’t want to accept checks, make a sign and post it by the payment table. If all sales are final, again post it on a sign. Garage sales often attract a wide variety of people with different norms and expectations so make your life easier and make it clear up front.

Closing Shop

  • Donate If your number one reason for having a sale is to reduce clutter then pile up all of your items that didn’t sell and give it away to charity. Don’t do what I’ve done in the past and shove it back into the garage. Then you’ll just have to haul it to the car again. Follow the one touch rule and put it in the trunk now and save a step. If you have big items try calling a donation store and get them to pick the items up.
  • Take down the Signs Please, oh please be kind to those insane treasure seekers like myself and remove all traces of your sale. Then you won’t have nuts like myself driving around aimlessly in your neighborhood with angry little scrunched up faces.
  • Treat Yourself to Dinner With some of your profits, treat you and your family to a nice meal out. You’ll be able to take a break and have someone serve you something nice while you can chat it up about all that you sold. Having a sale is hard work and you deserve to treat yourself and your family.

Now those are my tips, what are yours?