I just wrapped up the second garage sale I’ve ever done.
I made over $200, getting rid of clutter that I had zero use for. I was able to sell the 5 sale items that were eating up the most space in my house – two old bikes, a houseplant, a nightstand, and a desk. I kind of live on the outskirts of my city, with no through-traffic, so I was pretty happy with these results.
This was the second garage sale I’ve done, and both times I made over $200 – this time with only two items selling for more than $5 (and none over $30).
Leading up to the sale, I did some research in order to drive traffic and maximize on sales from the people who did arrive. And I learned a hell of a lot from my hands-on experience of running the sale.
Before I give you these garage sale tips, I do want to say this – garage sales are a lot of work and are not the most fun to organize. That being said, they can be very rewarding and fun. There is something satisfying about the fact that people are giving you money for things that you don’t use or value any more – and they are happy to find those things. Plus, you get the peace of mind that you are keeping those items out of a landfill (at least for the time being).
Garage Sale Traffic Tips
1. Invest in Signs
Craigslist and even local classified ads can drive people to your sale, but the large majority of your traffic is going to come from people who are simply driving around with or without the intent of hitting up garage sales. I asked a number of people how they found out about the sale, and most responded that it was the sign. If you think you can have a successful garage/yard/moving sale without the signs, think again.
2. Hand-hold Drivers to Get them to your House
Very important. We did not do this. We had a few small signs and once we led people in to our subdivision (a square loop), we had no further signage. Since our sub was a loop, we figured they eventually would make their way around to find our place. A few people commented that they almost turned around and had a hard time finding the sale. Lesson learned for next time.
3. Invest in Big Signs at Major Intersections
By this point in the article you should realize this: signs are important! I would recommend investing in a few large ones to put at the nearest major crossroads and at the entrance to your subdivision or street. We thought we would be OK with a few handmade signs, but when we did a drive-by, they looked to be inadequate. We would have driven a lot more traffic with bigger signs. It would have been well worth the extra $5-$10.
4. Put a Strategically Timed Posting on Craigslist
Craigslist garage sale hunters are going to do their research a few days before Friday/Saturday to plan out their route. I put our posting up on Wednesday night. Since you can re-post a listing to bump it to the top of results after 48 hours, I was able to then re-post Friday night to bring it to the top of the list for Saturday bargain hunters.
5. Add a “Free” Listing
To get additional traffic to your sale, post a Craigslist “free” section ad and do a Freecycle posting for the hour following the close of your garage sale. This way you might get a few people showing up early to buy a few things before you leave all of your free items for them to go through. It’s just additional exposure.
Garage Sale Pricing Tips
1. Think Like a Buyer
People want to feel like they are getting a deal. Price things to move. You think your old shower curtain is worth $3, but to a bargain hunter, it’s probably worth $1 tops. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and completely remove that emotional attachment (you’re getting rid of the item, after all!). What would look like a deal to someone who has never seen the item before?
2. Proactively Negotiate
To have a successful garage sale, you need to negotiate and embrace that process. I proactively negotiated with at least 10 customers. As soon as they grabbed an item for keeps and started showing interest in other items, I was proactive in suggesting, “If you add that on, I’ll knock a dollar off”. It worked EVERY time. Hesitancy from a buyer is a closed deal, but you need to seal it. Embracing negotiation also makes the garage sale much less boring.
3. Remember that these Items are Worth Next to Nothing if you Donate or Trash
I was passionate to get rid of as much stuff as possible. I had the goal of each visitor spending a minimum of $5. I even went so far as to tell visitors as soon as they arrived on Saturday (the 2nd and final day) that I was in a bargain-happy mood. Three times, I’m sure it resulted in people purchasing 6 or 7 different items together. I gave them 40-50% off the sticker prices. They left happy, and I was happy to get rid of more stuff.
Driving Additional Sale Revenue Tips
1. Ask Yourself if You’d be Better Selling on Craigslist
Selling on Craigslist might be a better alternative for higher ticket items. Garage-salers are bargain hunters. And the stuff you put in a garage sale should be stuff you couldn’t otherwise sell on Craigslist or EBay.
2. Do a 25 Cent Bargain Bin
People love picking out from a variety of low priced items. In both garage sales that I’ve done, the 25 cent bin was extremely popular. Make sure to label the bin well.
3. Have Bags on Hand
A few customers had their hands loaded with stuff. So I proactively offered up a bag to them for convenience (and so they could put more stuff in it).
4. Have Proper Cash on Hand
You don’t want to lose a sale because you don’t have proper cash on hand to break a larger bill. The following list of dollar denominations covered me completely:
- Two $20 bills
- Four $10 bills
- Six $5 bills
- Ten $1 bills
- A roll of quarters (40) – note, I never had to use this, fortunately.
If you have some large ticket items, you might need a few more twenties or tens.
Garage Sale Discussion:
- Have you ever had a garage sale? What did you learn?
- What garage sale tips would you like to share?