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How to Plan and Organize a Garage Sale

Posted by MoneyKey on August 7, 2019
a garage sale

Do you have a pile of unwanted items lying around in your garage or basement? Maybe you’ve just decluttered your kitchen and are left with some kitchen appliances that need a new home. Or maybe you’ve just gone through the process of organizing your home and have a bunch of things you need to get rid of. Whatever the reason, if money is tight and you’ve got a bunch of things lying around that you no longer have any use for, why not exchange these items for cash? You can sell them on Craigslist, sell them on eBay, or put some ads in the paper. But when you have a lot of things to get rid of at once – particularly when they’re small items – sometimes a garage sale works best.

If you’ve never organized a garage sale before, the process can seem daunting and feel like more work than it’s worth. But if you have the right garage sale tips and can put together a plan, you may just be able to throw a successful garage sale with minimal hiccups.

We’re going to take a look at the steps you need to take to plan your garage sale.

Plan Your Garage Sale

books at a garage sale

1. Choose the time of your sale

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide when you’re going to have your garage sale. You’ll generally be able to draw the largest crowd on the weekend, but if you have the time, you can extend this into the week. Start your garage sale early in the day – around 7 a.m. – so people don’t need to interrupt their plans for the day. If you can, try not to hold your yard sale in the hottest months of the summer so people don’t end up standing around in the sweltering heat.

2. Get your items together

Garage sales are a great way to get rid of unused items after you’ve decluttered your home. Run through your home and throw everything you no longer want but still has value into a box. Leave no stone unturned and look through your basement, garage, attic, and closets. If you pick up an item and aren’t positive if it’s something someone way want, you may as well include it in your garage sale. The worst thing that could happen is that no one buys it.

3. Check what permits you’ll need

Depending on what city you live in, you might need a permit to run your yard sale. Call or visit town hall to see if you’ll need one. You may even be able to apply for the necessary permit online. Make sure not to skip this step, as you don’t want to get shut down in the middle of your sale.

Advertise Your Garage Sale

run an ad in the newspaper for your garage sale

1. Run an ad in a local newspaper

If you want to get the word out about your garage sale, you may want to run an ad in a local paper. Make sure you know how much room you have to work with before you write your ad. You don’t want to go over your word limit and end up paying extra. Keep it concise and make sure to mention the date, time, and some of the more popular items you’ll be selling.

2. Post ads online

There are a few different places where you’ll be able to advertise your garage sale online at no cost. You could use:

You’ll have more room to work with than you will with a newspaper ad, so you can use the extra space to describe what items you’ll have in a bit more detail. Make sure not to post your ad too early, otherwise it could get lost in the shuffle before people have a chance to actually see it. Try to post your ad a couple days in advance. Also, don’t forget to post on your social media accounts.

3. Make garage sale signs

This is probably the most classic way of advertising your yard sale around the neighborhood. Just make sure to check if there are any laws against posting signs. If you can’t find this information online, call your local police station and someone there should be able to help.

Assuming you’re good to go, a brightly colored bristol board and a marker will do the trick. Write “Garage Sale” as big as you can, and include your address and the time your sale is running.  

Get ready for your garage sale

get supplies for your garage sale

1. Get supplies

Get all the necessary supplies ready no later than a day before your sale is set to start. You’ll need:

  • A table to make transactions
  • Chairs for people to sit on
  • Tables and other things to show off your goods

Avoid buying any extra tables just for your garage sale. Use what you have in and around the house and get creative if you need to. Cover a couple sturdy boxes with a tablecloth. Hang clothes on any garment or laundry racks you have. Do whatever it takes to minimize costs.

2. Be prepared with plenty of change

It’s unlikely that most people are going to have exact change, so make sure you have a lot of change and small bills ready. Go to your bank and make sure to get plenty of ones, fives, and a minimum of twenty dollars in quarters.

3. Sort your items

You’ll want to make the browsing process as easy as possible for customers, so make sure you organize your wares. Split things into categories like clothing, kitchen appliances, children’s toys, and books. If you have a lot of clothing to sell, try to split it into women’s, men’s, and children’s clothes.

4. Price your items

Knowing how to price garage sale items may seem a little tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Try to price things individually instead of throwing everything into one box with a single price sign on it. As the garage sale carries on, items will start to get mixed up and moved into different boxes, and it might be tricky to stay organized. To price your items, just use tape and a sharpie instead of getting expensive price tags or label makers.

5. Organize your items the night before

Make sure you have everything organized and arranged the night before your yard sale. Have clothes on hangers, boxes organized, and know what items will go on what tables so you can lay them out quickly in the morning. Map out what’s going to go where and do what you can to make things easier on yourself in the morning.

Throwing Your Garage Sale

throwing your garage sale

Now that you’re organized and prepared, it’s time to throw your garage sale! Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Get everything set up. Leave yourself with about an hour to lay things out on your lawn and put signs up. Make sure you know where your change is and that you’re in a comfortable position.
  • Be friendly with customers. Garage sales can be a little more interactive than walking into a normal retailer. They can also be a little less organized. Make sure you’re friendly with everyone who walks in and be ready to answer any questions they have. Don’t be pushy, but make sure they know you’re available to help. And be ready to haggle!
  • Take care of what’s left. You’re probably not going to sell every single item, so you’ll have to find a way of dealing with what’s leftover. You could donate them to a goodwill store, or if you still want to try to get some money out of them, try these selling apps.

Turn your unwanted items into cash with a garage sale

Throwing a yard sale can be a fair bit of work, particularly if you’ve never done it before. You might have to spend hours making signs, assigning prices to items, creating ads, and organizing your space. But if you’re living on a tight budget and want to make some extra cash, it can be a great way of putting a few extra dollars in your pocket.


Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute financial, legal or other professional advice. For full details, see MoneyKey's Terms of Use.

Posted in: Lifestyle

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