10 Tips to a Successful Garage Sale
Are you moving? Or do you want to clean out your closets and make a little extra money doing so?
How about having a Garage Sale?
1. What to sell…
Shoppers like to see a little bit of everything. When prospective customers drive by, they’ll more likely stop if they see full tables.
Never underestimate the value of absolute junk. If you haven’t used something in the past year, sell it.
Dealers and antique collectors frequent garage sales, so clearly display one-of-a-kind items.
Dressers, toys (especially Little Tikes), bookcases, baskets, tables, and tools attract traffic.
Make sure appliances work. Have an outlet handy so items can be tested.
Throughout the day, tidy up to keep things neat and orderly.
2. How to price…
Tag all items. Customers may assume that unmarked items are out of their price range.
Be prepared to haggle. Most garage sale experts say 10 to 30 percent of retail is a fair price.
Most people aren't looking to spend a lot, so try not to price anything over $100.
3. How to display…
Clean everything. Dirty dishes fetch a far lower price than their clean counterparts.
Put the big-ticket, and bright and colorful items close to the street to draw people in. The large items bring the most foot traffic. If you sell a couch or table early in the day, ask to keep the item with a “sold” sign on it until the end of the day.
Clothing on racks sells higher than similar items thrown on a blanket, so hang a line in your garage or buy a portable rack.
Clearly mark your sales area. If you have a sale in your garage, cover anything you want to keep.
4. How to advertise…
Place an ad online or a local newspaper. If you partner with neighbors, you can usually split the cost.
Make bold, bright, neatly lettered signs. Place them in order to direct traffic to your house. (Don’t forget to take them down when the sale is over!)
5. Check on Permits…
Many cities now require that you have a permit to run a garage sale. Check with a clerk at your city or town hall to find out if you need one. Don’t try to run a garage sale without it or you may end up getting shut down and fined.
Pro Tip: Some cities allow you to apply for permits online. Check your town hall website and look under the “permits” or “civic responsibilities” section to see where you can apply.
For Pinellas County Florida here’s a few places to check on garage sale permits:
For unincorporated Pinellas, please contact Code Enforcement for information: www.pinellascounty.org/forms/code_enforcement.htm
(727) 464-4761 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the City of St Petersburg, please contact
Phone: (727) 893-7111
6. Get Comfortable…
Most likely in the prime garage sale season, you'll be out in the sun for hours preparing, hosting and then picking everything up, so be sure to wear comfortable clothing, shoes, a hat and sunscreen.
Keep in mind how the sun moves throughout the day and at which times you may be in the sun. Have water or other beverages handy.
If you have your children helping, they may want to sell bottled water to the customers as well.
7. Partner with a neighbor or family members…
Here’s another tip for a successful garage, yard or estate sale; marketed the sale as a three-family yard sale.
Even if it means getting a few boxes of sale items from other family members.
The most important thing about others contributing is the ability to market yourself as a multi-family sale by partnering up with another family or two to help share the workload, but also to help with your marketing.
8. When to sell…
Check the weather when planning your sale. Even if your sale is indoors, bad weather keeps customers at home.
Saturday is often the best day for a sale, but in some places, people favor Thursday and Friday sales. If you are new to an area, ask around.
9. Don’t sell Everything...
As much as you like to get rid of everything, I’d recommend don’t overwhelm people—especially with items that are hard to move like adult clothing and books.
There is such a thing as yard sale fatigue!
It’s easier to search through a rack of a dozen nice outfits then it is to dig through a rack pack full of odds and end pieces of clothing.
Pick out some of your highest quality and nicest items, mark them up higher, and sell those—donate the rest.
10. What to do with leftovers…
Store them for another day. What didn’t sell now may be in high demand next year.
Give them away.
Have them picked up by a charitable organization. Keep a list of donated items for your accountant at tax time.
Garage sales can be a lot of work but share the workload with a neighbor or friend. You could spend several hours organizing and pricing items, writing ads, and getting your supplies. But after it’s over, you’ll hopefully have a wad of cash instead of piles of stuff you don’t want, which makes it all worthwhile!
Pam Moll – Author & Realtor