Hannah Drake

10 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

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Because I'm moving to another country, I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff. The majority of my stuff, really. So I figured a garage sale was the way to go. I ended up making over $1,000 selling my stuff, and over $700 between two garage sales.


I asked my parents, my siblings, and my grandparents if they wanted to donate anything to my garage sale. Meaning: you want to get rid of it and you're okay with me taking the money for it. Because of this, I was able to get a bigger variety of stuff than the inventory that would have just come from my room. My dad and stepmom donated a leather sofa, two barstools, a TV, my brother's old Xbox and driving system, and those turned out to be huge sellers for me. I wish I had people to ask who had kids because even with a smaller variety, my garage sale ended up being very niche. We also asked our neighbors if they wanted to participate so be able to advertise a bigger sale.


Before the garage sale, I went to the bank to get $100 in cash. I got $10 in quarters, $50 in ones, and $40 in fives. About an hour into the sale, I got a $100 bill and we had to go make change again, but other than that, I always had the right change. The teller at the bank said, "Are you having a garage sale?" so he knew what's up. While I was at the bank, I also got a money bag from them, but I would honestly recommend a fanny pack if you have it because there were a few moments where I franticly tried to find the bag.


But don't be afraid to negotiate! It was a lot of prep work and I actually took the day before off work, but I priced everything with little red dot stickers. Looking back, I wish I had done a flat pricing on books, DVDs, and TV series, because that was tedious and it would have been a lot easier to make the sale for some of those items. I did however post a sign for clothes saying how much pants, tops, dresses, etc. were. (And I ended up slashing the prices because the people who came to our garage sale are seasoned negotiators.)


If you can't clean it, toss it. There were a few clothes I found in my garage sale piles that were stained that I just tossed. Otherwise, we wiped down what we could and washed what we could so everything looked presentable.


We basically had five sections in our garage sale: kitchen, clothing & accessories, home & entertainment, automotive, and other. We also considered having a $1 table, a $3 table, and a $5 table, but we didn't end up doing that.


We hung up five huge signs in and around our neighborhood (including one in a nearby trailer park that was the most strategically placed) and two smaller signs just directing traffic down our street the afternoon before the sale. The signs had "GARAGE SALE" with the date and time, the location, and a huge arrow pointing toward our house. We live off a main road, so we were sure to put up signs for northbound and southbound traffic. We also posted on Craig's List (with specific items or types of items) and on various "garage sale" Facebook groups that I joined.


Honestly, you're going to get more money for bigger items, like a sofa or electronics, if you sell them online. People are more likely to pay more because they don't have that garage sale mentality. If it doesn't sell online, try to sell it at the garage sale. Depending on the item, you can try local Facebook groups, Craigslist, or online consignment shops. I sold a leather sofa for $50 but I think I could have gotten more online. Same with my DSLR camera that I sold for $125. I also had a Columbia jacket and a Patagonia fleece at the garage sale, but I ended up pulling them because people were low balling me so much and those are name brand items that people will pay for, especially in Boulder County.


We let people fill up a bag for $15 or fill up a laundry basket we had for sale for $20 just to get rid of stuff towards the end. We knew we were going to have another garage sale the following Saturday, so we weren't as aggressive with our deals the first weekend, but we were the second weekend and that's what got stuff moving. We gave an Army vet a wine glass I had from West Point with the school crest and if I saw people looking at something then walk away, I would offer them what they were looking at for a cheaper price. Like this younger boy was looking at my candles and I told him I would give both of the candles that hadn't ever been burned for $10 instead of the combined $15 that they were priced that. (Mostly I just thought it was so cute that a middle school boy was gushing about how good my candles smelled.) People feel like you're taking care of them and if you're trying to get rid of stuff, you will. The last hour of our second garage sale, we said everything was $1.


We bought water, Coke, Sprite, and Root Beer to sell for 50 cents. The first garage sale did really well for drinks because it was so hot out. The second day wasn't so great because it had been so cold overnight that it didn't really warm up until the end. Luckily, I'm having a going away party before I leave to get rid of the rest. I would also recommend selling drinks for $1 instead because we figured out that they cost 37 cents each, so we were really only making 13 cents a pop. (Pun intended.)


The first day, which was the longer of the two, my dad offered to bring us lunch and that was amazing! We still had all hands on deck, but we were able to get something quick to eat without having to stop and whip something up in the kitchen. If that's not possible, make lunches the day before during your prep day so you can just grab it and sit down for a few minutes rather than spending your entire break on your feet in the kitchen.

I honestly could not tell you if I've ever been more exhausted after that first day. It was hot, it was a long day, and I did 10,000 steps before 3:00 without ever leaving my driveway! The second weekend was a lot easier because we packed everything up together so all we had to do was unpack boxes once we got to my grandparents' house. (Oh yeah, we switched locations for the second weekend.) We didn't have as successful of a day the second weekend, but we also didn't advertise very well in the lower income neighborhood nearby until later in the day. (It had snowed the two days before and the signs weren't sticking to the posts in the morning!) So I guess that's a bonus tip: If you can do it near a lower income neighborhood, do it and advertise for it!