15 Ways to Guarantee Your Garage Sale Is a Success

Does it get any better than less clutter and more cash?

clothes for sale at swap party
Updated July 18, 2024
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If your spring cleaning went incredibly well, and you now find yourself staring down a pile of trash that could be someone else’s treasure, it might be time to try a good, old-fashioned garage sale. It’s a great way to make extra cash while clearing out your clutter.

But how do you go about holding a garage sale that’s worth the time and energy? It’s not as simple as putting a few card tables out and hoping for the best. You need to go in with a plan, pricing, and a strategy to turn your castoffs into cash. Here are 15 ways to guarantee your garage sale is a success.

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Look into whether you need a permit

ronstik/Adobe businessman stamping contract in office

This might not be on your radar, but you could need a permit to hold a garage sale. Some local governments have strict laws around sales, and you’ll need to apply for a permit before you start setting up. It’s usually a quick process, but it shouldn’t be skipped.

Ask the neighbors to join

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe african american couple unpacking boxes together

When there’s more to shop, more people are likely to come. See if a few neighbors — or even the whole block — are interested in joining your garage sale. It becomes a bigger event with more houses, which means more potential shoppers rummaging through your old stuff.

Decide on a goal

Pormezz/Adobe woman checking list before travel

You should know what you want from the sale before you start. Do you just want to clear out stuff and see it go to someone who can use it? Do you want to prioritize making cold, hard cash? This could help guide your pricing strategy, advertising, and what you sell.

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Try it

Advertise your garage sale

wichayada/Adobe woman using facebook on smartphone

To get people to your sale, they need to know about it. Try advertising via free platforms like local Facebook groups, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, garagesalefinder.com, and yardsales.net. You can also try posting on your own social media. And, it’s always smart to put up signs in conspicuous places in the days leading up to the sale.

Schedule it at the right time

zinkevych/Adobe woman talking at yard sale

Schedule your sale at a time when people are out and about, ready to shop. Saturdays and Sundays are the best times to host your garage sale. Start it early to catch the crowd who likes to hit sales before starting their day. Generally, 9 a.m. or even 8 a.m. are the best times to kick off.

Opt for a low-cost setup

Andrei/Adobe clothes for sale at garage sale

Don’t spend money on the setup! Look for inexpensive price tags, borrow tables, and collect grocery bags for buyers. The cheaper your setup is, the more you’ll net at the end of the sale.

Don’t overprice your items

New Africa/Adobe woman choosing accessories from table

Your items are always going to seem more valuable to you than they do to anyone else. If you overprice your items, people will be immediately turned off, and they may not even try to haggle with you. Things should be cheap — especially clothes.

Merchandise items in categories

Chrystine/Adobe children clothes and toys at garage sale

The people buying your old records probably don’t want to move glassware to get to the vinyl they’ve been searching for. And the people who want to check out kids’ toys would rather not sift through your old sweaters.

Put items together in categories for an optimal buyer experience. If you want to go a step further, merchandise items in a way that could upsell a buyer. For example, set up a place setting with glassware, flatware, plates, and linens rather than putting each item out individually.

Sell snacks and drinks

Monkey Business/Adobe Girls Running Homemade Lemonade Stand

Whether you bake cookies or go to Costco and stock up on chips, it’s worth selling snacks and drinks. If people are comfortable and fed, they’ll stick around and shop longer. If they’re thirsty, they’re going to hit the road without circling back for another look at that old coffee table.

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Avoid selling junk

Ennira/Adobe things for sale at garage sale

If you sell junk, all of your items are going to start to look like junk. Only sell castoffs that you believe someone may legitimately want. When you elevate your items, everything looks more desirable.

Have a “no hold” rule

Philipimage/Adobe woman choosing clothes at garage sale

When you allow holds, you’re asking to have items left over at the end of the day. Most people won’t come back, and those who do will create confusion as you try to locate that one set of flatware they desperately wanted.

Align on negotiations

Klaus/Adobe people at flea market on streets

Before the sale starts, make sure all sellers are aligned on negotiations. Will you allow them? Will you allow them after a certain time? Will you go down to a certain price? It’s up to you — you don't have to negotiate — but you want to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Accept mobile payments

Looker_Studio/Adobe woman using smartphone to shop online

While most people have traditionally wanted cash for a garage sale, apps like Venmo and CashApp have made it easier to accept mobile payments. You’re more likely to get the buyer that wandered off the street if they don’t have to make a pitstop at an ATM.

Have supplies on hand

Andrei/Adobe hangers with clothing at garage sale

Make sure you have everything you need on hand on sale day. That includes a calculator, chairs, pens, bags, and anything else that could be useful throughout the garage sale.

Price it to go at the end

New Africa/Adobe woman buying glassware at garage sale

Is your goal to move things quickly? On the last day or in the last few hours, have a plan to price items to go. That could look like “Fill a bag for $5!” or “Everything is 50% off!” The goal is to end the day with as few items as possible, and this is a quick way to do that.

Bottom line

Ekaterina/Adobe second hand clothes at garage sale

Since garage sales are considered a personal property sale, did you know you do not have to pay tax on the earnings? If you make $500, that $500 is all yours. Consider using those funds to boost your wealth.

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Author Details

Heather Bien

Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.