Host an Organized Garage / Yard Sale

My friends and I host a Garage/Yard sale each spring. Today, I'm sharing "our" way of having an organized sale.  The most important thing that I would say is PLAN AHEAD!

SET A DATE for the sale.  We ALWAYS have our sales on Fridays, because that's the day that we get the most traffic. Some years we've had the sale on Saturday as well.  It may differ in your area, so ask around to see what day is a "popular garage sale" day. 

COLLECT ITEMS to sell within your home. I'm usually collecting all year.  If I see an item I no longer use, I add it to a dedicated garage sale box that I keep in the garage. A couple of weeks before the sale, I go through every drawer, cabinet, closet, etc. in my entire house and decide what to get rid of.  The garage sale box that I have in my garage, usually ends up being an ENTIRE storage closet FULL by the time I'm finished going through my home.
*  Create large bright signs and attach balloons to your signs.
*  Create a pull-tab flyer to post around town
*  Advertise on Craigslist
*  Place an ad in your local paper (our ads must be in by the Wednesday before the sale.)
*  Have each person that is involved in the sale post it on their facebook page.

PRICING YOUR ITEMS to sell is probably the most time-consuming. So give yourself PLENTY of time to do this.  Don't try to get all your pricing and setting up done the day before the sale.  It will exhaust you!   I always end up calling my good friend and she helps me figure out the best prices to put on my items. 
I use good ole' masking tape to price my items, because it stays in place.  The little colorful stickers ALWAYS fall off.   Price everything clearly on the top of the item. 

Each year that we have our sale we usually have at least 4 or 5 families involved.  In order to keep track of who's item sells, this year we did a little different tracking system, which worked well for us.   We place our initials on each of our price tags (did you notice the dm on the price tag above? that's me.)   The day of the sale, this is the way we tracked: (one of our lovely customers recommended this.)
We have 2 people at check-out.  One person (the bagger) takes the customers pile and tells the "cashier "the price and the initial, then places the item in a bag.  (REMEMBER to have plastic or paper grocery bags on hand.) The "cashier" writes the prices down with the initial next to each item (see above.) Then she puts a line under the last item. She then takes her calculator and adds up all the items above each line, to get the total price due.  At the end of the sale, we go back and total each persons amount, to figure out who made what.
Don't FORGET to go to the bank and get change the day before your sale.  We often begin with: two or three $10.00 bills, four $5.00 bills, twenty $1.00 bills and a roll of Quarters and roll of Dimes.  This year we used plastic pencil boxes to store our money and of course, we didn't let this out of our sight!  It would probably be wiser, NOT to use see-through bins. Next year we will do different :)
Group like items together on tables.
 A great way to display books is stacking them on their sides in plastic totes or boxes.
We lay a blanket on the ground for all the toys.
It works really great, because the children sit and play with the toys as the parents shop.
We have a wonderful friend, who loans us this clothes rounder every year ~ and it's so great! We try to hang as many clothes as possible, because clothes NEVER, EVER stay folded nicely on tables.  We always do end up with tables of clothing and this is how we organize the tables:
Labeling the fronts of the tables, to make it easier for the customer to find what they are looking for.
Place attractive items OUT front, so people can drive by and see that you have good stuff and that your sale would be worth stopping at.
We place a FREE box at the end of the driveway for people to go through on their way out. Who doesn't LOVE something that costs nothing?
Some years we've had the little ones sell snacks and drinks.  They LOVE it and it's really great for them.   I LOVE this homemade sign!! Makes me :)

Other years, we've had coffee and doughnuts for sale in the morning and hot dogs, soda and chips available to purchase in the afternoon. My hubby and  bro-in-law usually end up grilling the hot-dogs.  It's always FUN when their available to help out. I will say this, the hot-dog stand has always been a BIG hit! 

SLASH PRICES. If you're going to be having a 2-day sale, it's wise to price your items lower for the next day. Or even go through on day 1 and start marking things down, or adding it to your FREE bin.  Of course, if you REALLY want to sell the items, price them REAL CHEAP.

DONATE THE LEFT-OVERS.  At the end of the day, there is usually always stuff left over, unless you have an unbelievable SALE (and if you have a sale with nothing left over, please let me know HOW.) NOW you need to decide what to do with the left-over stuff that didn't sell.  Sometimes I donate my items to another sale that I know of. With children's clothing, I take the name brand clothing and bring it to a clothing consignment shop and often times, I donate the rest to goodwill.  I do NOT bring it back into my home.

Garage Sales ARE a lot of work, but can be SO worth it if you're looking to clear out some clutter and make some extra cash.

Do you have any great Garage Sale Tips?  Do Share!  I'd love to hear!


  1. I have never had a successful garage sale. :( Looks like you lots great stuff to sell.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I am hoping to have a garage sale sometime soon... This will be one of my points of referral :)

  3. Great Tips! I enjoy having yard sales. I set mine up like a store. Everything on tables and racks, by category. We live in a gated community, so my sign says "Upscale Yard Sale". LoL! :) Works every time. We always have a large crowd form before we open. I want people to come to mine first, while they have money to spend. Also, if you are going to show up at 7 a.m. I have hot chocolate and krispy kremes for everyone. I get stopped a lot thru out the year and am asked "when is your next sale". I love knowing my things are going to people who will love and enjoy them too. :)

  4. Great ideas! We've had yard sales in the past, they are a lot of work. We usually do pretty well. at one yard sale, the ONLY stuff we had left fit into one small box. it was awesome! I can't believe we sold almost everything! one year we even made $500!!! (we had a few big ticket items, though).

  5. Lots of great ideas. I usually try to make it to your sales, as I know there's lots of little boy clothes(!), but didn't this year. I just blogged about what I like (as a customer) in a sale, and some other ideas that have worked great for us. http://somerosaga.blogspot.com/2011_04_01_archive.html

  6. Those are fantastic tips! You must've done great.

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  7. This is my to do for next week. IM DREADING it! :) Thanks for sharing. :)

  8. Thanks for the garage sale tips, my sister and I are thinking of giving it a go this summer!! I just became your 1000th follower!!

  9. One thing we do when we have a multi family sale is have a seperate page for each person, then add their stickers to their page. At the end of the day you just have to add up each page to know how much each person made.

  10. I just had a garage sale last weekend and made over $500. The highest priced item was a table for $35, next a bike for $20, and everything else was $5 or less. I guess I had a lot of stuff! The most important thing is to make sure the ad gets in the paper and putting up legible signs so people can find your place easily. I laminate my signs so if it happens to rain, people can still read them. I usually do most of what you suggested in your blog--good suggestions.

  11. Great tips! We do many of the same things! Two things I would add- toward the end of the sale, I pass out shopping bags to people looking at clothes. I tell them it is $3- $5 (depending on the size of the bag) for as many clothes as they can fit in the bag. Also THE MAN TABLE. We put a table up front with all the guy things- tools, books, dvds, sporting goods, electronics, etc. The guys are a lot more likely to get out & shop with their wives instead of sitting in the car (impatiently) if they see something enticing!
    Read more on my blog http://curlygirlstimes3.blogspot.com/2007/05/garage-sale-success.html

    Great post! I wish I was near your sale!

  12. As far as the money box goes, I have a photo box that I use. I get a small rectangle rubbermaid container that is dollar sized to put the bills in and then I have 4 small square rubbermaid containers that I separate the coins into and I put them inside the photo box. For some reason they all fit perfectly and it looks nice too. Then I always keep the lid on it and it doesn't look like a cash box. It has worked for us for years. If I am going to do a few yard sales then I just put the lids back on the containers and keep all my change in the box for the next time. No need to collect it all again!

  13. We're organizing a community garage sale that's happening in a few weeks. These are great tips! Thanks for sharing!


  14. Great tips! I enjoy yard sales for the most part. I like talking to people. :)

    I've baked cookies and sold them in the past and they sell FAST. Funny how snacks sell well at a yard sale.

  15. Wow! This is so inspirational!! Eek, I am even more excited for our big day! Thanks so much for sharing your awesomeness! I still think we are long lost sisters with all of our shared ideas! :)


  16. Wow Great list!Thanks a lot,very helpful idea for us to know especially that we are just starting to do this activity.I'm very excited for the result.

  17. Great ideas. I would add that if you live a ways off the main road to have clear directional signs, preferably in the same color, and with writing large enough to see from the road. I like creating a box full of little sandwich bags full of little toys that kids can buy for 25 to 50 cents. It keeps them occupied while mom is shopping.

  18. My mom and I made aprons with pockets so that the money is always on me and in my sight. There are pockets for the ones, bigger bills, and change! This has worked much better than ziploc containers we have used in the past!!

  19. I have used a nail apron from the local hardware store to keep my money. It has large enough pockets to keep the coins and bills in. I usurally do the sales alone so this makes it easy to keep up with the money, it's with me at all times.

  20. Your tips read very similar to what I have sent as "tip sheets" for friends! Now I can send them to your link. :)

    Some other ideas I have found that work well:
    * each person in the sale has their own color sticker. There are multi colored per-priced stickers at Walmart, Home Depot, Office Max. Saves time and effort of putting your initial on everything. :)
    * make a page for each person in your notebook. So, if $2.50 of the sale is for me, and $10 for my friend, I write my sale on my page, and her sale on hers. Makes totaling things at the end of the day so much easier.

  21. I have a garage sale "kit" I use... A rubbermaid container/box filled with pre-marked tags, my cash box, an adding machine, bags, a marking pen, a tablecloth for my cashiers table, etc... (You can get a cheap cash box at most office supply stores, walmart, etc...) Then everything is together in the same place and I know exactly where it is for the next year. Another idea for keeping track of multiple sellers - remove the tags from the item sold and put them right in the notebook. Just a few more suggestions.

    1. Removing the colored stickers and putting them in the notebook...GENIUS! I have already color-coordinated our items (having a sale with my best friend in a few weeks) so I LOVE this tip! :)

  22. We have a rumage sale with my daughters gymnastics team booster club. There are about 20-25 families that participate in the sale. We also label our items with prices and names but instead of keeping track of the sales all together, each girl has her own page(s) and when a sale is made, the price tag is removed and placed (taped) on their page. In the end when tallying the profits, it is easier to total each individuals earnings instead of looking through the list. Works great!

  23. I do bag sales. I buy different sizes of garbage bags and sell the bags for $5, $10, $15, $20, and $30. The person buying the bag can then fill the bag with whatever will fit in it. I guess this the lazy way of doing a yard sale but I usually average about $1,500. Of course, if you have more than one person or family doing a yard sale I'm not quite sure how this would work.

  24. We've had multi-family garage sales since I was a little girl, and this is very similar to the way my mom always set it up. The only difference was to have columns on a legal pad for each person's initials. As a kid, my job was to call out the amount and initials while I bagged the item. The cash box person would write it in the appropriate column and enter it on an adding machine or calculator to get the full total for the sale. I loved feeling like I was being helpful, and when I got old enough, I helped do the "accounting" job, too. Taught me about the value of money, and of course, I loved watching how much money my old toys were bringing in! My mom would also hang clothes from a shower curtain rod over the top of 2 folding ladders - long enough for dresses not to drag the ground. In my adult sales of my own, I've been known to string jumper cables from the tracks of my garage doors. If you have a single-car garage bay, they're the perfect length!

  25. Thanks for all these great tips! I picked this post as one of My Friday Favorites this week. You can check it out here - http://wp.me/p2hp9V-Pv

  26. We'll be having a community garage sale soon and I hope this time I will sell a lot more than last time... want to get rid of a lot of things and could use a little extra money. ;) Thanks for sharing all your tips.

  27. Yes, at the end of the day everything left gets donated ... to insure that the #1 goal, clearing clutter, is achieved


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