Organizing a Profitable Garage Sale

If you are a garage sale enthusiast but have a house full of your own clutter, maybe it’s time to do a thorough spring cleaning and make a few dollars for your trouble. Garage sales can help to organize your home by getting rid of unused items, and they can bring in extra income if you know the tricks to organizing and promoting your event. Unlike eBay, you don't have to take photos of your merchandise or make a trip to the post office. All you need is a little advertising, a little help, your inventory and tips to make this the most profitable garage sale yet.


Inexpensive advertising is all that you need to get the word out about your event. Rather than sitting and waiting patiently for passers-by to browse, you will have a group of shoppers that have arrived for that purpose.

Consider taking out an ad the Friday before the sale. Advertising will help you attract more people to your sale than just putting a local sign at the intersection for people to see when they're whizzing by at 50 miles an hour. You can also use the paper to make sure you have a backup rain date. It is not a good idea to hold a garage sale when rain is forecast because bad weather will drive away customers.

If you don't want to advertise, put up the largest handwritten sign you can in black magic marker on the nearest busy street. The sign should allow passing motorists to read it easily. That means big, bold, thick lettering, bigger than you might think you need.

Don't forget to take the sign down after the sale is over or you may get people knocking on your door the next weekend.

Whether you advertise, post signs, or both, be sure to include more than just an address and a date. Sale times are just as important. Whatever times you choose, make sure you can stick to them. It always takes more time than you think to get all those items out on display. And be prepared to deal with early birds, politely but firmly.

The best months to hold a garage sale are April, May, June, September and October, when the warm weather allows you to hold a sale outside. Saturday is the day that you're likely to attract the most customers.

Enlist Your Neighbors

Make your sale a block-wide affair. Multifamily garage sales tend to attract more buyers than a sale by just one person. If your neighbors aren't interested, ask your friends. They can bring their items for sale over to your house and then put them out on separate tables.

If you have an apartment without a lawn, ask permission to hold one on a grassy area from the landlord or homeowners' association.

Choosing the Inventory
The week before the sale, look through your house and decide which items you want to sell. If you haven't worn it in a year, sat on it for six months or opened it since you can’t remember, sell it. Don't hesitate to put out something even if you think no one else would want it. You may be surprised at what other people buy.

Displaying the Merchandise

Clothing can be spread out on the ground on a clean sheet, placed on top of chairs or even hung between tree branches using twine. Larger items can simply be placed on the ground. For smaller items, it is always to your advantage to haul out a table so everything is within easy reach of potential customers.

Jewelry looks very nice when set against a dark cloth. Ask your local supermarket for extra boxes and use them to store books for sale.

If you are selling clothing, allow people to try on items over their clothes. Consider putting out a "not for sale" mirror that they can use. If you are selling CDs, consider bringing out a CD player so people can hear the music first. You can also bring out an extension cord to demonstrate that any small appliances or electronic gadgets are in working order.

Visit the bank and make sure you have lots of one- and five-dollar bills to use as a personal bank to make change. You'd be surprised how many people expect you to have change for a twenty when they're purchasing a twenty-five-cent toy.

A good rule of thumb about pricing items is to price them at one-tenth the retail price. Thus the jacket you paid $50 for but have outgrown becomes a $5 garage sale find. Some items seem to bring in higher profits, like maternity clothing.

More Quick Tips
On the day of the sale, make sure the signs you put up about the sale are clearly marked and securely attached so they won't blow away.

Keep any pets in the house during the sale. Even the friendliest of pets may not react well to the sight of dozens of strangers on the front lawn.

Young children should be watched carefully, but older children may choose to participate. Let them look through their possessions and decide if there are items they don't need anymore. A garage sale can be a great opportunity to teach your children about the marketplace firsthand if you designate a place at the sale solely for their stuff. Expand the object lesson by deciding beforehand that anything that does not sell will be donated to charity.

Whatever you do during the sale, don't forget the first rule of the day: Have fun.

Garage sales are a great way to make money and empty your closets just in time for you to go out and fill them again.

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