26 Tips for a Profitable Garage Sale

As we start to look forward to spring weather, it will be another season of garage sale shopping for bargain seekers! Spring is the perfect time to clean out closets, removing items that haven’t been used in over a year, clothes that don’t fit, or your collection of mismatched dishes. If you are taking advantage of the pleasant temps (or if it is finally getting warm where you are!) to have a sale, here are 24 great tips of mine to get you started toward sale success.

Two to three months before:  Get the date on your calendar.

  • If you don’t set the date on the calendar, it won’t happen.  Choose a date where you have one to two weeks of no other pressing activities so that you can have enough time to purge and put things in one spot. 
  • Check to see if your neighborhood’s HOA is planning a Community-wide sale.  This will save you on advertising and you will benefit from the traffic.

A week or two before:  The majority of sale success is in the prepping.

  • Set up tables in the garage and start putting out sale items.
  • Make sure all clothing and toys are clean. Washed items will sell quickly for top dollar.
  • Hang nicer clothes; fold others in like groups with clothing sizes marked if there are no tags.
  • Group similar items together on tables and put small things (like utensils) in a box that can be sold at the same price.
  • Put books in boxes with spines facing upward for reading titles easily. 
  • Bag all accessory pieces with owner’s manuals and attached to those sale items.

The day before:  Finish arranging and pricing items.

  • Keep pricing fair; shoppers want a bargain. A general rule is 50-30-10:  new, unused items at 50% of retail, slightly used at 30% of retail, and used items at 10% of retail. 
  • Have visible price tags. Use pre-printed price tags or color-coded stickers for faster pricing. 
  • Arrange folded clothes in groups you want to sell for the same price and make a sign for that table. For instance, sell all shorts $3.00, all T-shirts $2.00. Nice ones will sell first; the rest can be marked ½ price at the end of the sale.     
  • Display valuable items near the back of the garage where you can see them.
  • If there are other items stored in the garage, cover them with sheets or you will be constantly answering the question: “Is that for sale?”
  • Kids like to shop too. Put all kids’ items together and at their level.
  • Make it easy to walk around tables. Have an easy enter and exit of the garage.
  • Pre-advertise. Let neighbors know what you have. List furniture and big-ticket items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or in swap groups.
  • Make sure you have at least $50 in change, especially fives, ones, and quarters (if you have anything priced less than $1.00).


Day of the sale:  Be prepared to sell, sell, sell!

  • Put balloons or flags out front to attract passersby.
  • Display big, hot-ticket items in the driveway with large price tags to be seen from the street. 
  • Be ready for early birds. If you decide to let one person come in early for a peek, expect more to follow. Open early, but don’t feel pressured to open until your posted opening time.
  • Wear a vendor apron instead of using a cash box so cash is never unattended.
  • Have a helper. Most people are still honest, but several people in a garage at one time can distract you from watching items or helping someone. (Ask me how I know this.)
  • Recycle plastic grocery bags for sold items; have some paper handy for wrapping glass.
  • Offer to plug electrical items in a garage outlet to show that they work. Have batteries on hand for testing toys.
  • Reorganize and regroup items throughout the day. Remove empty tables instead of scattering few items across many tables. Full tables are more attractive.
  • Welcome customers as they arrive.  Let them look and be available for questions.

Keep in mind: Most shoppers are scanners and not “diggers.” Just as a retail store, a neat and organized sale will sell the most. Don’t overprice items thinking that shoppers will bargain. A few will haggle, but most will walk away if a price is too high. However, don’t feel you have to let your items go cheap right away! Save rock bottom offers for the end of the sale. No go and make some money! 

What tip surprised you the most?
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3 responses to “26 Tips for a Profitable Garage Sale”

  1. Great tips! We just had our community garage sale a few week ago. It's the first since before COVID and we had so many shoppers! I did great since I have been decluttering and the garage was overfilled! We have semi-annual sales and I have one corner to store things for the next sale. But I'm not saving everything for “some day” (that is except my old wheelbarrow find! LOL)

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