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18 Tips to Pull Off a Successful Garage Sale & Make Some Extra Money



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This coming Monday is Memorial Day where Americans honor those who have died while serving in the US Armed Forces.

The importance of Memorial Day tends to get lost in the shuffle of things, so I wanted to start this post with a gentle reminder about why Monday has become a day off.

With that said, Memorial Day tends to signal a few other things to most Americans 1) summer has (unofficially) started and 2) garage sale season has begun!

It should come as no surprise - not only do I love going to garage sales but I love having a garage sale too. Not only do you get to get rid of your junk, er, I mean - great stuff, you don't want but you also get to make a couple of bucks!

If you’re thinking about having a garage sale this weekend, or sometime during the summer, I have some tips for you!

1) Get organized in advance. Don't wait until the day before your garage sale to start digging around your attic. Know what you're planning on getting rid of in advance and have it gathered together in one spot. This way after the sale has begun you won't be thinking about how you could have sold that extra set of dishes you have buried somewhere in the basement - they'll already be on their way to their new home (hopefully!).


2) Don't get too selective. When you're going through stuff and gathering your items, don't get too hung up on if it's "garage sale material" or not. My advice here is to not toss anything just yet. You know the saying - one man's junk is another's treasure. You'll be surprised what people want. I know I was surprised when my dad's old CD collection was a HUGE hit! If something doesn't sell, toss it then.

3) Pick a date. Commit to a day (or weekend) and stick to it. My mother has a garage sale every Memorial Day weekend, rain or shine. The good news is we all have a set in stone date to gather all of our items and bring them over (my poor mom!).

4) Start saving your bags. You'll never have enough plastic bags for a garage sale. Most people ask for a bag, others look like they're struggling with their armload of stuff so you offer them a bag. Do yourself a favor and start saving your plastic bags before your garage sale, you'll be happy you did.

5) Ask your friends to join in. Enlist your friends and neighbors to participate in your sale. Not only will having more items attract buyers (who can pass up a giant garages sale?!) but having your friends there will make the day all around more fun. Plus, they can help you with all the other steps - especially number 5!



6) Advertise. Post to Facebook, Craigslist and similar sites to advertise your sale. Include pictures of bigger items like furniture in your online ads. Make signs with the date, time and location of your sale and post them around the neighborhood. My mother, in her infinite genius, made signage that she can reuse by saying Memorial Day weekend Saturday & Sunday compared to specific dates. She has to store them but she only has to refresh them every few years compared to making new signs every single year.

7) Gather your supplies. You have all of the items you want to sell gathered and ready for the big day, but you're not quite done yet. You'll want to make sure you have tables to set out your goods, chairs to sit in, all those plastic bags you've been hoarding, lots of singles (quarters too!) for change, food and drinks for you and your helpers and a pen and paper in case you need to keep track of totals.

8) Setup the night before. I know this isn't practical for someone who doesn't have a garage (FYI I'm one of those people!) However, if you can set everything up and close the garage door or if you're ok with putting tarps over everything for the night, you'll appreciate not having to setup the day of! One thing to know about garage sales: people will be there early. Probably way earlier than you expected and earlier than your signs said. Just a word of caution.

9) Organize your items. Don’t just throw items on your tables. Spend some time on setup and group like items together. Make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for and for them to find and buy similar items.

10) Decide to price or not price items. Ok, so I’m on the side of not pricing. My mother is firmly on the pricing side of the debate. You’ll need to decide if you’re going to price each item or let the buyer name the price. Personally, I think you do better without prices because a buyer will pay more than you expect. My mother swears people won’t ask about a price and will walk away. It’s up to you. But if you are pricing your items, make sure you skip the fancy price tags. Masking tape works just as well and is much cheaper.

11) Get up early. I’ve already warned you - garage salers like to be up and at ‘em nice and early to find the good deals. Be prepared to open your sale early. They’re showing up early regardless, might as well take advantage of potential customers!

It's time to sell that old PlayStation!

12) Be prepared to haggle. Unfortunately, sometimes someone will offer you less than you were hoping. Be prepared to haggle or say no. Just because someone offers you money doesn’t mean you have to take it.

13) Be friendly. Let’s face it, someone is more likely to buy something if you’re nice to them than if you’re playing Candy Crush on your phone and ignoring them. Say hi to everyone and engage in some small talk.

14) Reorganize and condense your items. After a busy couple of hours your sale will look more like a train wreck than the neatly organized tables you started with. Be prepared to reorganize your items. Take down tables once stuff has started to go, that way you’ll spend less time cleaning up later.

15) Bring extra money inside. This may sound obvious but it’s worth stating anyways. The people at your garage sale are strangers. Don’t trust them with large sums of cash laying around. Bring extra money and large bills inside.

16) Have fun. Having a garage sale can be stressful - there's so much to think about, there's a ton of strangers at your house and you're constantly thinking about what you're going to do with all the stuff you have left afterwards. Stop worrying and try to enjoy the day with your friends and family.

17) Take down your signs. This is a pet peeve of mine - leftover garage sale signs. Don't leave them up all summer. Be a good neighbor and make sure to take your signs down when the sale is over. This way they don't leave people searching for a nonexistent garage sale (yeah, I've totally been that person) and they don't end up littering the street. It's just common courtesy folks!


18) Get rid of leftover stuff. Pack up your buddy's pickup with items that need to make their way to the town dump, throw out and recycle items or put the items on the curb with a big ol' free sign. Unfortunately, clean up is the not so fun unavoidable last step of having a garage sale.

I hope whether you decide to have a garage sale, or go garage saling yourself, you have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend. I'd love to hear all about your garage sale successes or failures.

I hope you have a great BBQ and beautiful weather.

But please, let's not forget why we celebrate Memorial Day.

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