The Ultimate Garage Sale Planning Guide
Having a (good, worthwhile, successful, etc.) garage sale takes a lot of time and planning. For the last several summers, I have hosted at least 1 (and sometimes 2) amazing and crazy successful garage sale each year, and along the way I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks on how to plan a successful garage sale.
Garage sale season is one of my favorite parts of summer – it’s sad, but true. Every summer, I go to as many garage or yard sales as I can find, and a lot of times I’m really surprised (shocked, even) by the things people do (or don’t do) that really hurts the potential success of their sale.
Related Post: How to Garage Sale for Profit
If you’re going to put in all the work it takes to have a garage sale, I think you should at least set yourself up for success so you can have the best turn out possible.
I don’t just love shopping at garage sales, I also love having garage sales. I love all the purging, sorting, organizing, and setting up it takes to make a sale great.
And I’m going to share all of my great garage sale tips, so you can plan a successful garage sale, too!
My Best Tips & Tricks to Having a Successful Garage Sale:
Before the Garage Sale:
- When to start planning your garage sale – I start planning my next garage sale as soon as my current sale is over. At the end of every garage sale I separate what’s left into three piles – keep, donate, or toss. If there were items in my ‘free’ pile that nobody took, it goes in the garbage. Items that have already been in a previous sale or two and still haven’t sold go in the donate pile. I usually save things like toys and kid’s clothes to put in the next garage sale. I leave price stickers on everything and pack it away so it’s ready to go the next time around.
- Plan ahead – I always keep a few empty bins handy to collect items throughout the year that we have outgrown or don’t use anymore. That way when garage sale season rolls around I already have a great jump-start of what will go in my sale. I keep one bin for kid’s clothes, one for toys we’ve outgrown, and one for miscellaneous items we don’t use anymore. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can price the items before they go in the bin to cut out one extra step down the road.
When to Schedule a Garage Sale:
- If possible, plan a multi-family garage sale – People love coming to garage sales where there will be a very diverse amount of items for sale. If you only have boys clothing/toys, for example, host a garage sale with a friend who has girls so you can advertise that your sale has items for both boys and girls.
- If you live in a subdivision, be part of your subdivision garage sale (if your subdivision doesn’t have an annual subdivision sale, try starting one!) – Subdivision garage sales are great and very successful if they’re well advertised. Shoppers love going to one location where they can browse several garage sales in the same neighborhood. When you advertise for your sale, be sure to include that your garage sale is part of a subdivision sale.
How to Set Up a Successful Garage Sale:
- Make sure the items in your garage sale are CLEARLY PRICED, CLEAN, and WELL ORGANIZED! (Did I over-do it there?) – No one wants to sort through a bunch of dirty, unorganized sale items that are thrown together and not priced. It’s a good way to lose a lot of sales.Tables should be full, but not cluttered, and not so full that people can’t see what all you have. If you have more items than space allows for, you can always ‘re-stock’ tables as things sell.
- Create a good flow – Set up your garage sale so there’s a good flow to the items – so maybe you would start with a table of kid’s clothes, then a table of toys, then household items, décor, kitchen, office items, seasonal decorations, outdoor equipment and tools. If the weather and your space allows, line your driveway with bigger items so people driving by can see some of what your sale has to offer. A couple of years ago we had a stackable washer/dryer set in the driveway at our garage sale, and that alone brought in so.many.people to check it out. Having items out in the driveway is a great way to bring more people in.
- Set-up Time – Give yourself a lot of time to set up your garage sale so you’re ready when people arrive to shop. It always takes a little longer to set up than you think it will, so allow yourself some extra time – price what you can beforehand to help keep things moving on set-up day.
- Make sure your sale is WELL advertised – Have good signage, and advertise on Craigslist, Facebook marketplace and resale sites, in your local newspaper, etc. All of these things will make a big difference on how many shoppers you have on sale day.
Post your ads 5-7 days in advance, with the promise to add photos of your set-up, well organized sale the night before you open. People can mark your ad as a favorite online and come back later to check out the pictures you post. Include several pictures – one broad picture to show the size of your sale, and several pictures of individual tables to show what your garage sale has to offer.
Include a list in your advertisement of what will be in your garage sale, and be detailed! If you’re having a huge garage sale with a lot of great items, let people know! Don’t just say that you’re having a garage sale with ‘too many items to list’. People want to know what your sale has to offer – make sure to tell them!
- Garage Sale Signs – Have GOOD signage pointing the way to your garage sale. Set out bright colored signs with the day, time and location of your sale that lead people directly to your garage or yard sale. Make sure all of the signs match, so if there are other garage sale signs along the route to your house people can easily spot the sign for your sale. Also, make sure to take a picture of one of the garage sale signs you will be setting out, and post it (along with the other amazing pictures of your sale that you’ll be posting) on Craigslist, Facebook, etc., so when people see your sign on the way to your sale, they’ll know they’re heading in the right direction and they don’t confuse your sign with another garage sale.
- Open on Time – Be ready to open at the time you specified in your ads- even better if you’re ready early! This includes allowing time to set out your pre-made garage sale signs (put signs out the night before if you can) and having plenty of petty cash ready for making change.
I think the best open time for a garage sale is 8:00 AM. So many sales start at 9:00, and opening an hour earlier will bring the early birds to your garage sale first before later sales open.
All of a sudden having a garage sale sounds like a lot of work (it actually is a lot of work, but with a little bit of planning it will be worth it, and all of your hard work will pay off!) Following most (or all!) of these tips will set you up for a great and very successful garage sale!