13 Tips for Hosting a Successful Garage Sale

I’ve always been an avid garage sale shopper (as I mentioned in last month’s Guide to Citywide Garage Sale Days), so I assumed that anything having to do with a garage sale would be easy, fun, and enjoyable. One of the best things ever is to master the art of garage sale shopping, bringing home bargains for your family. (Do you consider yourself a Garage Sale Queen, as several of us on the blog consider ourselves?)

But it turns out hosting a garage sale is a totally different ball game than shopping at one. It’s not easy at all, but it’s so worth it once you have that cash in hand and that stuff out of your house! If you’re thinking of hosting a garage sale this season, I’ve got lots of great tips that I’ve picked up along the way, with some extra advice from my fellow bloggers.

tips successful garage sale advice

Make sure your sale is full.

If people drive by and see it’s pretty sparse and not worth their time to stop, they won’t. Use the driveway as selling space as well so that your sale looks full and so you can draw people in with some interesting items placed outside.

Know what sells.

In my experience, baby and kids clothes are always a huge draw at garage sales, while adult clothes often seem to fare better at Stuff Etc. or a consignment shop.

Advertise ahead of time.

Garage sale enthusiasts like to map out their day before they head out. Easy and free ways to advertise your sale are through Craigslist, garagesalefinder.com, and Facebook. Make sure to really market your sale: write in your hours, what categories of stuff you’ll be selling, if you have a low pricing strategy, and if it’s a multifamily sale. Big bonus points for providing pictures!

Use attention-grabbing signs.

Put a clear sign out near a main road and by your house to catch anyone just driving around that may be interested. Make the text big enough to read!

Organize your sale.

Group similar items together, spread things out as much as possible so there’s room to browse, and make sure items are easy to access so shoppers they can inspect things without assistance. If you’re selling adult clothes, hang them up. If you’re selling books and movies, make sure it’s easy to see the titles. Also make sure your items are clean and the items in your garage NOT for sale are kept separated.  

Put prices on everything.

A lot of people will haggle, but a lot of people don’t want to bother and also don’t want to have to ask you about pricing–they just want to know how much to pay. I, personally, am too introverted for haggling and just want to know if it’s a good deal.

Be prepared.

Start off with enough small bills and coins to make change, and keep a stash of grocery bags for purchases. Consider having extra boxes and newspaper for wrapping breakable items. 

Consider joining citywide garage sale days.

I find that it’s usually a good idea to host your sale during your town’s citywide garage sale days. You can guarantee a lot of people will be out garage saling that day, and you’ll get a lot of foot traffic. You won’t have to worry about making sure people will go out of their way to specifically go to your sale.

Join a neighbor.

Multifamily garage sales are usually a hit. When people see “multifamily” advertised, they’ll be more likely to decide that going to the sale is worth their time because there will be a lot of stuff. It’s also a plus if you want to have a garage sale but don’t live in a great location to host one (because you live in a condo or apartment, or out on a rural road, etc.)

Be friendly.

Greet your customers and be around to answer any questions, but don’t hover. People usually want to browse in peace and not feel pressure to buy any of your secondhand stuff.

Provide other goodies.

You can make your sale more enticing by selling snacks and drinks. Also, if you’re a crafter or have a home-based business, your garage sale is another way to try to display your stuff!

Have a good pricing strategy.

You may have paid a lot for the item originally, but now it’s secondhand and the pricing should reflect that. People aren’t going to pay top dollar for your old things. Hosting a garage sale is a way to make money but ALSO clear out your house. Usually, the stuff you don’t sell goes straight to Goodwill anyway. So make the haul smaller by slashing prices at the end of the sale for items still hanging around, i.e. “Everything is half price!” or “Fill a bag for $1!”.

Have varied hours.

In my experience, it’s best to do both a Friday evening and a Saturday morning. That way, you can reach more interested shoppers. Saturdays can get filled up with so many other events that often there are people that love to go garage saling but can’t make it on a weekend because of kids soccer games, birthday parties, dance classes, and whatnot!

Give these tips a try, and cross your fingers for good weather! 


Brigette lives in North Liberty with her husband Brian, energetic daughter Kate (October 2014) and their two cats, Penny and Olive. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Brigette came to Iowa City to attend the journalism school at the University of Iowa, fell in love with the area, and decided she couldn’t leave. After meeting Brian while working at the same Iowa City restaurant in college, they got married in August 2015 in the heart of downtown. She works full time in project management and as an employee of the Core Fitness Kids Club while finishing her MBA at Upper Iowa University. In her free time, she drags Kate out garage sale-ing, tries to keep up with her reading list and runs, lives for Hawkeye football season, enjoys a good meal on a patio, runs her Bachelor/Bachelorette bracket with her family and friends, and of course, chases her daughter around the pool and the park.


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