Tips for a successful garage sale

Garage sale, yard sale, driveway sale – whichever moniker you use, it’s are a great way to declutter and make yourself a few bob in the process. Here are my tips to make your garage sale a success.


Create a sign that prominently features the word ‘garage sale’. Make sure you have the date, address and opening times too, but don’t get hung up on the details of what you’re selling – it doesn’t matter so much on your sign so long as the basics are made obvious. Don’t waste space that could be better used to attract more people from farther away. Garage sales are a bit of a novelty, and although there are a heap of ‘pros’ (we’ll get to them later), you just want to get the masses in your yard so they can see for themselves what you have for sale.


Put some effort into laying out your wares. Try to spread out your goods, giving maximum exposure to your ‘premium items’ and placing your not-so-premium products in less visible spots. Remember though, there’s something for everyone at a garage sale, so don’t hide anything. If you give everything a chance to sell, it most likely will. And that leads us nicely into …


As I mentioned earlier, there’s usually something for everyone at a garage sale, but you’ve got to price things accordingly. Don’t expect top dollar for your items, but don’t sell yourself short either. It may pay to visit an op shop, or jump online and check out eBay for pricing guides. My tip: if I think I can get something for it on eBay, I’ll list it at my garage sale for the eBay price I’d prefer, minus 10 per cent. I’m also happy to come down a further 10 per cent before I get cranky with a haggler. That’s because selling it at a garage sale means less hassle with packing, postage, messages, and so on.

Okay, back to pricing. Make your prices visible, either with little coloured dots displaying your prices, or by designating set-price tables, boxes or other areas. If you don’t have a price for everything, put up a sign that says ‘make me an offer’. Set up a $1 box or two, a $2 table and a $5 table (or put things on tarps if you don’t have tables). If you have some big-ticket items, try to make sure they’re no more than $50. If you want more for something, you may as well sell it on eBay.

Price old books at 50c to $2 – depending on their condition. CDs and DVDs should be around $2–$5. And make sure you sell your goods ‘as is’ – that way you’re making it clear to the buyer that they shouldn’t expect a brand new item (unless of course it is a brand new item).

It’s also cool to have a ‘free stuff’ box, that way you get rid of things and you may make someone happy in the process. It’s also a cheeky way of getting someone to pay for something else (because they feel guilty about taking a free thing. Hehe … buyer psychology).

Create some atmosphere

Put on some music and set up your garage sale as if it was a market stall, even dress up a little. I find that playing classic crooners such as Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra works well for ambience. My most successful garage sale had old 70s psychedelic rock playing, such a Jefferson Airplane and Syd Barrett – it gave it a ‘thrift shop’ vibe which put people in a buying mood.

Make it easy to buy

If you have electronic goods to sell, then make sure you have an extension lead with a power board so they can try before they buy. If you’re selling clothes, maybe hang them on a clothes rack, your fence or a ladder. If you’ve got books for sale, then pop them in some boxes or a shelf, and place a few with the covers facing out, so they can see some of the good ones you are selling.

Be nice, but firm

Okay, so you’re going to meet some great people and you’re going to meet some seagulls (that’s the nice way of saying ‘scavenger’ types). The nicer people will know when they’re getting a good thing and they’ll be reasonable with their haggling and they’ll be nice to deal with.

It’s the seagulls you have to watch. These guys are pros. They’re the ones that will arrive an hour before your start time and begin to pick through your boxes before they’re even unpacked. They’ll try to batter you down on price. Just know that whatever they buy, they’ll resell at a profit. You should be the one to make money from your stuff.

So, if they show an interest in your old wooden ladder and try to talk you down on price, don’t let them. Stick to your guns and only take what you’re willing to accept. On the other hand, if you just want to declutter, then play their game until you reach a good compromise. It’s worth remembering that most op shops will come and pick up whatever you don’t sell. Sometimes it’s more satisfying to give your goods to those who truly need it, or will benefit from it more than just reselling at a profit.

At checkout

If someone has bought a few items and has been pleasant to deal with, then throw in some extras or round down the total. When other people see you do that, they’ll be more inclined to buy from you.

Have some bags or boxes ready in which to pack their goods. And make sure you have plenty of change, so you don’t miss out on a sale. I recommend $100 in $5 notes and $20 in $1 coins and $20 in $2 coins.

Have fun with it

Make deals, throw in a few extra bits, wear a weird furry hat, dance and joke around, round the price down – it’s all in the name of fun, and the more fun you have, the more fun they’ll have. And happy people will be more likely to buy things from you.

Do you have any tips for a successful garage sale? Why not share them with our members?

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Declutter your life and save
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How to be richer this time next year

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