HomeColumnsHome & GardenYour Guide to a Successful Garage Sale: Getting Rid of Unwanted Stuff

Your Guide to a Successful Garage Sale: Getting Rid of Unwanted Stuff

With a garage, basement and closets overflowing from the stuff you’ve been saving “just in case,” it may be time to put those languishing items to good use – in someone else’s home. Rummage sales are a great way to clear out clutter, recycle and make some extra cash. Follow these suggestions for a successful sale and a home with reduced clutter.

The storefront

A garage is usually the best place to hold a sale, offering shelter with setup and tear down made easier by closing the door. If your garage is hard to access, hidden from view or contains valuables that can’t be easily protected, use a covered porch, patio or your yard. Be sure to have plenty of tarps available to protect from rain and to cover your goids at the end of the day.

Timing is everything

Plan your sale when outdoor temperatures are between 60 to 80 degrees. Typically, the best days to hold sales are Thursdays through Sundays, with Fridays and Saturdays bringing the most traffic. Mornings bring the most significant flow of shoppers, and the earlier you’re ready, the better. Open the sale by 7:30 or 8:00 am, and rummagers will flock.

Displaying your wares

Don’t heap your merchandise on tables or leave it in boxes to be ransacked. While some don’t mind digging through messy stacks, most people won’t bother.

Hang as much clothing as possible. Use a laundry pole or portable closet, or support a hanging rod between two stepladders. If you only have a few clothing items, a clothesline will do.

Plenty of table space is also a must. Borrow folding tables, and if you run out, make a table by resting a sheet of plywood over sawhorses, or prop spare planks of wood between chairs. Keep all but the bigger items off the floor for better visibility.

Neatly fold and stack clothing that can’t be hung on tables, and label stacks according to size. Organize good toys and complete sets where parents and grandparents will easily spot them. Set up a “guys” table with hand tools, gadgets, electronics and home repair items. Then place small articles such as jewelry in divided containers, or egg cartons, so they’re easy to view.

One exception to the disorderly rule is for small toys. Stick all these little goodies in boxes on the ground where young children can dig for treasures to take home. Label boxes according to the price per item or allow kids to choose one as a prize.

Finally, make sure batteries and electricity are available so you can demonstrate for shoppers that items are in working condition.

Next to new sells

Appearance plays a big role in the sale of used goods and how much they can bring. Wash and dry all clothing and linens, then fold or hang immediately to prevent wrinkles. Wash dust, dirt and grime from toys, tools and household items. Also, repair broken merchandise when feasible.

Priced to sell

Don’t overprice, or you’ll end up packing up nearly as much as you started with. For big items, look online or eBay for average resale prices. But if you check eBay, keep in mind that eBay pricing often isn’t comparable to what people will pay at a garage sale. Some top quality items in like-new condition can bring 25% to 35% of the replacement cost. Occasionally, tools, equipment and other things in small supply can be priced higher and sell for 50% to 60% of replacement cost, depending on age and condition. Most used merchandise will bring 5% to 10% of replacement cost, at best.


Newspaper classified ads, Craigslist or the more popular online garage sale locator websites usually bring the best results. The exception is if you live on a main street or a heavily traveled highway, advertising the sale may not be necessary. In your ad, be sure to include your address and main cross streets, dates and time of your sale and what you’ll be selling. List big items individually as well as the categories of things you’ll sell, like “tools” or “toddler clothing.”

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Also, post fliers on nearby grocery store or laundromat bulletin boards. If there are no regulations against doing so, posting signs on nearby corners is a must. Don’t forget to put a bright sign in front of your house, too. Balloons tied to your mailbox or in the yard can also make your sale more visible.

Other tips for success

The bigger the sale, the more traffic you’ll get. Go in with family, friends and neighbors and hold one big sale rather than several small ones.

Hold a street or subdivision-wide sale. This will draw people from surrounding areas.

Move big items such as furniture or appliances into the driveway to attract passersby.

Finally, clearly price each item. Many people will walk away from a sale with nothing when things aren’t priced. They don’t want to make an offer that’s too low and might offend you. They also don’t want the hassle of having to ask the price for every item they might consider buying.

Garage sales don’t have to be a difficult process, and you can even donate what you have leftover to local Goodwill stores or other charitable organizations to declutter further.

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