Make the Most of Your Garage Sale

You might not think the junk in your basement is worth any money, but as the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

If clutter is taking over your home and you’re looking for some extra cash, a garage sale is a fun way to kill two birds with one stone. Planning a garage sale can be a lot of work, and not all of them yield big returns. Make the most of your garage sale by following these tips.


Choose a date and time: Most garage sale shoppers like to get out early on Saturday mornings when the weather is warm. Be ready to start selling about an hour before your advertised start time in case of early bird shoppers. Call it a day mid-afternoon and, if you still have a lot left to sell, consider extending the sale to Sunday, too.

Gather supplies: Before the sale starts, make sure you have adequate bills and coins for making change. Buy a fanny pack or apron with pockets to hold your earnings so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of a cash box. Provide plastic bags and cardboard boxes for customers to haul their purchases away, and if you’re selling breakables, provide newspapers for wrapping, too.

Payment options: To take your garage sale to the next level, consider accepting credit card payments from your customers using an app such as Square or PayPal Here. You’ll pay a percentage of each swipe in fees, but it can be worth it for larger, more expensive items. The convenience just might be the difference between selling and not selling that old treadmill.

Follow the rules: If your town requires a permit to host a garage sale, get one ahead of time. Research other laws ahead of time, too, and make sure you’re not selling old toys or baby equipment that have been recalled, which is illegal.

Expand the sale: Ask friends and neighbors if they’d be interested in participating in your garage sale. Multi-family sales draw much larger crowds than solitary garage sales. See if your neighbors want to host a street-wide garage sale, or ask family and friends to bring their items to sell at your house.

Create ambiance: Almost all retail stores play music to put shoppers at ease and encourage them to spend money. Do the same at your garage sale to create a welcoming environment.


Homemade signs: Put up wind-proof signs around the neighborhood and at high-traffic areas to lure people to your garage sale. Make sure the signs are easy to read from a car and point in the direction of your house. Include your address and the dates and times. Don’t forget to remove signage when the sale is over.

Get the word out: Consider putting an ad in your local paper, or hang up flyers at coffee shops, grocery stores and on nearby college campuses.

Use technology: Spread the word on your social media channels, put up an ad on Craigslist and get your sale listed on garage sale sites such as and


Set everything up: Hang clothing up from shower rods or rope, place books and CDs on a shelf and use tables to keep smaller items off the ground. Add visual interest to table displays by using boxes or crates to create height for items in the back.

Make it easy to shop: Put similar items together so customers don’t have to wade through your old sweaters to get to the baby clothes. If you’re selling a VCR and old VHS tapes, set them up together to encourage customers to buy both. Leave enough space between tables for people to move freely, and don’t pile everything on top of each other.

Entice shoppers: Set up a box of free items near the curb to encourage customers to stop by, and make sure your best items are visible from the street, too. When everything is set up, check out the view from the street to see if it looks enticing to people walking and driving by.

Testing area: If you’ll be selling electronics, set up an extension cord or provide batteries so customers can verify that everything works correctly.

Think like a store: Rather than plopping everything on a card table with price tags, set up vignettes to highlight your best items and to help prospective buyers imagine owning them. For instance, set a table with dishes and silverware you are selling, or set up a camp scene with coolers, a tent and camping supplies for sale.


What to charge: A rule of thumb is to charge no more than 20 percent of what you originally spent on an item. You can increase or decrease the price, depending on whether you’re more interested in decluttering or making money. There are several resources online for garage sale price guides as well.

Deals and sales: Sell small items in bulk, list two-for-one specials or have an entire table of one-dollar items. Just like in a real brick-and-mortar store, these tactics should help you make sales.

Haggling: Be prepared to negotiate prices throughout the day. If you’re adamant about getting a certain price for an item, consider pricing it higher to account for negotiations. Don’t be afraid to make counter-offers.

Lowering the price: If it’s the end of the day or the second day of the sale, you can lower the prices to encourage customers to buy. Many garage sale shoppers arrive late hoping for reduced prices.

After the sale: If you have valuable items leftover, consider selling them on eBay or donating them.

Securities and investment advisory services are offered solely through Ameritas Investment Corp. (AIC). Member FINRA/SIPC. AIC and Summit Group of Virginia LLP are not affiliated. Additional products and services may be available through Summit Group of Virginia LLP that are not offered through AIC. Representatives of AIC do not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax advisor or attorney regarding your situation.

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