Garage Sale Tips

Running a yard sale is not rocket science. But if you put a little effort into creating an environment where it is pleasant to browse and easy to find junk treasures, you’ll make a lot more money.

1. Be clear on the purpose of your sale.
Are you selling things to make money or to get rid of them? This question affects everything you do, from how you price things to how willing you are be to negotiate. Surprisingly, you can often make more money (and get rid of more junk) by pricing things low.

2. Advertise.
Stick an ad in the newspaper. Put up a notice on Craigslist. Post simple, effective signs around the neighborhood. It’s best to use big bold text like “HUGE SALE” with an arrow pointing the right direction. Make sure your sign is readable.

3. Get cash.
Get a roll of quarters, a stack of twenty-five $1 bills, and a few $5 bills. Do this two days before the sale, so that if you forget, you can still get the change on the day before.

4. Prepare your staging area.
People will be more inclined to stop if you set up shop in your yard or driveway. Some people are reluctant to enter a dark and dreary garage. Make your sale inviting and easy to browse. You can lure customers by placing highly-desirable items near the road.

5. Go over ground rules.
Make sure that everybody working the sale is in agreement. Be clear on your bargaining policy. (You don’t want your wife to be angry when you sell her rabbit-shaped jewelry box for $2 when she wanted at least $5 for it.) Make sure that everyone understands the importance of never parting from the money. Agree that nobody will bad-mouth the merchandise.

6. Think like a customer.
As soon as you’ve opened and fielded the initial flood of shoppers, walk through your sale as if you were there to buy something.

  • How does it feel?
  • Are things clearly marked?
  • Is it easy to move around?
  • Are your books on the ground in boxes? Or, are they placed neatly on shelves or tables?
  • Would you pay $10 for that porcelain cat?

7. Display items to their advantage.
If those nice lawn chairs leaning against the wall aren’t selling, try unfolding them and setting them on the lawn. Have trouble selling books? Organize them neatly in a bookshelf or two.

8. Play background music.
People may find it a little uncomfortable to visit a garage sale (or to host one) when there’s complete silence in the yard or driveway. Pop in a CD that is appropriate for your audience.

9. Promote expensive items.
Big-ticket items can be tough to sell, but you can do it with a little extra effort. For example, if you have a digital camera you'd like to sell, try gathering all the bits and pieces and place them together on a table along with a printout of the Amazon page for the camera.

10. Make it easy for shoppers to test electronic items.
If you’re selling electrical items, make sure you have an extension cord handy so that people can test them. No smart person is going to just take your word that your television “works great”. They’re going to want to see it in operation. Also, have some batteries on hand so that a prospective buyer can test that old Nintendo Gameboy for himself.