Your Best Garage Sale Ever!

Don’t settle for pocket change. Follow these helpful tips and watch your trash turn into cash.

Garage Sale Nitty-Gritty

Can Stock Photo Inc. / rmarmion


The urge to purge hits most of us each spring. So by now, you’ve probably dug through closets full of old clothes, household items, and sports equipment and pulled out what you no longer use. You are probably thinking, 
“Garage Sale!”

But you don’t want the kind of garage sale where you sit in your front yard for two days and come away with only enough money to pay the pizza delivery man. You want your sale to be the busiest one on the block. It can be. Follow these helpful tips and watch your trash turn into cash!

Sell what people want to buy: Women’s and especially children’s clothes in good condition are always in demand. Your used furniture, sporting goods, bicycles and small household items usually find a new home quickly, as well as tools, books and kitchenware. (Before selling toys or baby equipment, check for recalled items.) Sadly, knickknacks, out of date media, and men’s clothing are often left untouched. Collectibles might sell better on eBay where they have a bigger audience of buyers.

Price what the market will bear: Try to remember that the whole idea of a garage sale is to sell things. You will not get retail prices

even if the item is brand new with tags. To determine what things are going for in your area, check out other local garage sales a few weeks before your sale. Don’t forget to put a little wiggle room in your prices to allow for the negotiators. You will sell more items if they think they are getting an even better deal.

Merchandising makes the sale: Set up your sale area with plenty of tables and places to hang things. You can create a clothes rack using two ladders and a broom handle. Place common things together – toys, sports equipment or seasonal items and take items out of the box to show potential buyers what you are offering. Remember, shoppers are more likely to buy an item if they can try it first.

How to attract buyers: Multifamily garage sales are the most successful. Ask your neighbors to have a sale on the same day. This will bring more buyers as they can quickly go from house to house and save on driving time. Place ads in your local paper and ask day care centres, stores or apartment buildings if you can leave a flyer on their community bulletin boards. On the day of the sale, post lawn signs with balloons on main roads and those leading up to your house.

What to do if it doesn’t sell: Consider donating the items to a charity resale store like Goodwill or trading in sports equipment at Play it Again Sports. Take books to your local library and blankets or towels to the nearest animal shelter. Check your town’s website for places to recycle any out of date electronics, computers and TVs. Bring leftover toys to a local women’s shelter, children’s wing of the hospital or paediatrician’s office waiting room.

Get the Kids Involved

A garage sale is a great way to let your children earn some extra money and channel their inner entrepreneur.  They can:

  • gather items to sell, clean them, set up tables and handle money in return for half the profits or an hourly rate.
  • sell lemonade or bottled water, snacks and popsicles. A great way to learn money basics. Loan them the money for their sale, say $5 for a case of water. If they sell each bottle for 50 cents, their profit will be $7.
  • set up a table to sell their creations, like duct tape flower pens, handcrafted cards and photography, or flowers and vegetable seedlings.

This article originally appeared in our June/July 2014 issue titled “Garage Sale Nitty Gritty,” page 11.

Author: Pam Molnar

Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three. She and her family came away from their last garage sale with emptier closets and fuller pockets.

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