You’re looking around your home and starting to get that creeping claustrophobic feeling that comes when you realize things are sitting around that haven’t been used in years, and your storage spaces are already full. Don’t worry, the garage sale is here to save you!
Garage sales are a neighborhood classic that are well-loved from coast to coast. From Washington to South Carolina, weekend mornings see families and friends cruising their cities and towns to scoop up deals, have a friendly haggle, and come home with new treasures.
You’ve probably been to your share of garage sales, but if you’ve never hosted one of your own, we’re here to help. Read up on ways to get prepared, stay organized, and have the best garage sale of the season!
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again – preparation is the name of the garage sale game. You’ll be set up for a smashing success if you’re ready beforehand. Garage sales can be a lot of work, so take time in advance so that the day is as controlled as possible. Here are some tips for how to get ready for your garage sale.
- Start early. Make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck by allowing yourself time to really get into all of your storage spaces and clean them out. Yes, we mean really clean them out. The cupboards in the basement that rain down odds and ends each time you open the doors? Those are the ones—get in there! A garage sale is your chance to take back all of the space that clutter eats up, so make sure you allow yourself enough time in advance to be thorough.
- Sort by room. Save yourself from getting overwhelmed when you’re collecting items for your garage sale by going one room or area at a time. Instead of looking at your entire home and being paralyzed by indecision on where to start, pick one room and empty each closet, cupboard, and drawer one by one. Making a list of these areas ahead of time can also help you set up a realistic timeline for how long it will take you to accomplish this.
- Keep, sell, reuse and recycle. In each area that you’re decluttering, sort things into piles according to what you’ll keep, sell at your garage sale, recycle and reuse for a zero waste garage sale. (There’s no donation pile because what you don’t sell at your garage sale makes great donations after it’s done.)
- Pick a day. Keep an eye on the weather forecast when you’re choosing your day because you can expect significantly fewer people if it’s rainy or inclement weather. Consider postponing if the day you choose turns out to be bad weather – you don’t want to go through all of the work of putting on a garage sale just to be thwarted by the rain!
- Plan your pricing and organization. Once you’ve sorted your rooms, take stock of how many items you’ll have and whether it will make the most sense for you to group them by price on tables, or individually label each item with a price tag. The dollar store is a great place to buy stickers and tags if you do decide to label each item. If you’re not grouping by price, another great option is to group items by area of the house they’re from. Tables for kitchen items, home decor, tools, etc., is a helpful way to guide potential customers to the items they’re the most interested in. Ensure you have enough display space for your sale items once you know how much and what types of things you’ll be selling. Borrowing tables from friends and family is a great option and if your garage sale is bigger, consider renting tables and racks for a day.
- Use apps. TallySheet and Venmo are great for tracking and taking payments. If your sale is on the larger side, it might be worth it for you to invest in an inexpensive tap system like Square.
- Start your setup the day before. This is an important tip to help ensure that when your first customers of the day arrive, you’re sitting back sipping a coffee and not frantically racing around trying to find tables, write price tags and arrange your items. Keep the sweating and hustling to a minimum by getting as much setup done the day before as you can. If you have a garage that you usually park in, move your cars onto the driveway for the night and stage things in your garage. That way, in the morning, all you’ll have to do is move your tables out, and you’re ready to go.
- Arrange for donation pickup. Once your garage sale is done, you likely won’t want to deal with bringing things back into your house again. Save yourself the trouble by arranging for pickup at the end of your sale. This will mean that even if you do have items left over, your yard and driveway will still be empty at the end of the day. Just don’t forget to cancel the pickup if it’s a wild success and everything sells!
Grouping items is a helpful way to keep things organized during your garage sale and ensure that your customers aren’t accidentally overlooking a pair of shoes they would have loved because they were misplaced between your golf clubs and a blender. Here are the categories that you might find helpful:
- Electronics/ appliances
- Home decor
- Sporting goods
Have an Inventory and a Price List
Chances are, you’ll be having people help you with your garage sale. Avoid miscommunications and confusion by creating a price list that each person can keep on hand. This can be a digital or printed copy, depending on the preferences of your helpers. What this looks like will depend on if each item is individually priced or if you have prices by table, type of item, etc.
Market Your Garage Sale!
If you’re looking for a yard full of happy shopping faces all day long, you’re going to want to think about how you’ll let people know that you’re having a garage sale beyond just putting signs up. Here are some other ways that you can get the word out!
- Friends and family – word of mouth is a great way to get people to your garage sale. Send your friends and family an email they can forward to their friends with all the details, including the date, address, and time of your sale. It can also be a good idea to add that your sale is weather-dependent (if that’s the case) so you don’t have disappointed shoppers showing up in the rain just to find out you’ve postponed.
- Develop a website – If you are someone or know someone handy with web development, there are some great free platforms like Wix or web.com to easily develop a website, and that you can use to put up a quick splash page to let people know what your garage sale is all about.
- Creating a website for your garage sale could bring you multiple benefits and help you have more success selling everything you’re letting go of. Nowadays, web development has become available on multiple platforms that take care of the technical stuff, so it doesn’t have to be too complicated. Use the main information to let others know what they can find in your garage sale and when and where it will take place.
- Social media – Social media is a powerful tool for spreading the word—make sure you’re leveraging it! If you’re not a social media guru yourself, recruit someone to help you that can assist with posting on community groups as well as their own profiles. Most areas have neighborhood Facebook groups that welcome posts like this.
Best And Worst Times For Your Garage Sale
Choosing the right time can mean the difference between your garage sale being a roaring success and hearing crickets all day. There are three major factors to consider when you’re choosing your day:
- Time of the year. This is an important one because, of course, you don’t want to have your garage sale in the middle of winter if you live in Minnesota, but mid-summer might also not be the best time. If you live somewhere that sees overly hot summer days, you might not get the biggest crowds in the middle of July, so May might be the best month.
- Weather. Similar to the time of year, the weather plays a big part in the success of your garage sale. Rain is likely to keep people inside, so we recommend that you postpone if your chosen day is forecasted to be rainy.
- Time of the month. A great tip is to choose a weekend that’s after payday. For some people, this is mid-month and the end of each month, and for others, it’s once a month at the end of the month. This means that choosing the first weekend in the month puts you in the best place to catch people when they have money to spend.
What Items Sell The Best?
You never know who will consider an obscure item their new personal treasure, but some items tend to sell the best at garage sales. Here are some things that you can bank on selling:
- Clothes and shoes in good condition
- Small appliances in good condition like toasters, blenders, stand mixers, toaster ovens, etc.
- Electronics like older TVs, Apple TVs, Roku, gaming consoles, handheld games, etc.
- Sporting goods like golf clubs, volleyballs, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, sports equipment, etc.
- Home decor items like wall art, table decorations, knick-knacks, clocks, lamps, plant pots, and mirrors.
Making sure that you can take multiple payment options means that you won’t lose sales to customers that only have one type of payment with them at the time. Seasoned garage sale shoppers will likely have more than one method of payment, but you never know when one of your signs will bring in someone less prepared. These are the most popular options:
- Credit card – this will mean that you’ll need something like Tally Sheet App or Square and the ability to connect to wifi to use the app. It’s simple to set up, but you should test it out ahead of time to ensure your wifi coverage extends to the area you’ll be taking payments in.
- QR – these codes look a lot like barcodes but they play a big advantage when it comes to payment. Taking payments with a QR code allows your customers to scan a code that directs them to a payment app. Making these QR code payments will allow consumers to pay faster without taking their wallets out. They are also much more secure than traditional payment methods. To add QR payment options to your business you just need to create a payment form, add your preferred payment gateway, and start accepting payments. There are many different options for the service providers that offer this payment method, and it can be an easy way to streamline your payment system.
- Digital transactions – email transfers or apps like Venmo are the most common, but you can also use PayPal, Wise, or your money transfer app of choice.
- Cash – cash is simple, but it does require a bit of pre-planning to make sure you have change on hand and some work after to deposit your earnings.
Hopefully, after reading our tips and hacks, you’re inspired to get planning for your garage sale! Decluttering your home is a great way to refresh in the spring and maybe even kick-start your spring cleaning. Whether your garage sale goal is to declutter, make some extra money, or do your part to keep needless things out of landfills, you’ll be ready to tackle this task with ease if you follow our simple guide.