How to Start a Garage Sale

Do you have too much junk that you want to get rid of, or are you looking to make some quick bucks? Today I'll be showing you how to start your very own garage sale(or estate/indoor/yard sale) and how to make it a success. From my very own experience with hosting and visiting garage sales, I'll give you tips and tricks to help you start one. Let's get started!

Step 1: Planning It All Out

  1. See which days of the weekend you're available. Planning a garage sale ahead of time is more likely to succeed rather than slapping prices on random items and selling them the very next day.
  2. Ask your family members if they have anything to sell to include them in the sale, more items will attract more people.
  3. Check the weather conditions for the week you want your garage sale on. Avoid setting it on a day when it's very windy, cold, or rainy.
    • Garage sales are popular during the spring when the weather is warm but most popular during the summer, since many people are on vacation and have more time during the day.
    • Fridays and Saturdays are perfect date for a garage sale.

Step 2: Gathering Items

  1. It's time to clean out everything! Look throughout your house, garage, attic, car, basement, etc. to find things you no longer need.
  2. Don't be a hoarder and keep everything you're trying to sell. If there are items that you no longer want, use, or will ever use in the future then sell it!
  3. Lots of things you can sell are:
    • Knick-knacks, ornaments, figures.
    • Books, novels, journals.
    • Movies, video games, CDs (Make sure they're not too scratched up or broken).
    • Toys, stuffed animals, play sets, dolls, craft supplies.
    • Clothes and shoes for men, women, teens, babies.
    • Tools, kitchen appliances, furniture.
    • House decor, sport's equipment, bedding, gardening tools.
    • And whatever you else have in your house, etc.
  4. DON'T SELL:
    • Items with missing safety parts.
    • Prescription drugs or medications.
    • Old baby cribs, incomplete child safety seats.
    • Used makeup.
    • Broken items without the customer knowing (Don't scam people and lie just to get a few bucks).

Step 3: Pricing/Labeling

Pricing items is very important. I've been to many sales where there wasn't a price on a single item and I'd have to go and ask them how much an item costs every time I see something I'm interested in. I got annoyed of asking so much that it was better for me to leave. Price EVERYTHING. People often pass up items if they don't see the price.

  • Don't price like it's a retail store. The original cost of an item has little bearing on its resale price.
  • If you think an item is an antique or collectible, it's better to sell them online.

Remember to not price things too low or too high. Here's is a list of prices I used on my last garage sale if you're not too sure about the price. The price is really up to you, this is just a list for people who are struggling to find a reasonable price for something.

  • Jewelry = 25 cents to $1
  • Thick books/hardcover = 50 cents to $2
  • Paperback books, magazines = 10 to 25 cents
  • CDs, video tapes = $1
  • DVDs = $1 to $3
  • Toys = 25 cents to $2
  • Video Games = $3 to $8
  • Furntiture, electronics, miscellaneous = Up to you

If it's a family or multi-sale, have the initials of the owner on the items to make sure the money goes to them when their item is bought!

Step 4: Cleaning and Preparing

A clean sale is a happy sale.

If you want to have the garage sale outside, spruce up the place.

  • Remove any wasp nests nearby as these can be very dangerous to others.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Sweep the driveway.
  • Remove large rocks to avoid tripping people.
  • Move cars for space and clean the garage if necessary.
  • Clean the house if it's going to be an inside sale.

Step 5: Organization and Setting Up

Setting up is recommended the day BEFORE you start your sale. This gives you time to make everything in order and look nice. People buy more at a well organized sale.

  • Use boxes, tables, or blankets to organize your items.
  • If you don't have enough tables, place a mat or table cover on the ground for items.
  • Hang clothing by using a pole or rope between trees or ladders. Sort it by type or size so people can find items easier.
  • Label items that are difficult to identify.
  • Place big items such as furniture near the road to attract more people.
  • Save putting out electronics and other valuables for the DAY of your sale. You could have a burglar sneaking around to steal valuables at night while you sleep.
  • Set up a pay table for yourself.
  • Put a cover over everything if you plan to leave everything outside for tomorrow.

Step 6: Before the Sale Day

  1. Test all electronics you plan to sell to see if they work.
  2. Gather LOTS of shopping and plastic bags. You're gonna need them when a customer buys something to store it in.
  3. If it's going to be hot on the day of your sale, consider buying sodas or even make your own lemonade. Snacks like chips will attract hungry customers as well. Having your children or siblings help with this part will make them excited while they have a chance to earn even more money from it.
  4. Have at least $50-$100 in bills and change. A roll of nickels, dimes, and quarters, $20 in singles and $20 in fives is a good amount.
  5. Think about including a "Free" box and fill it with items you would rather give away. People love free stuff!

Lastly and most importantly, have a garage sale permit. These are usually required by your state and hosting a garage sale without one can result in a fine. You can often get these at your city or town hall for a low price.

Step 7: Advertising

Advertising is a smart way to get the word around about your sale and have more people come.

Signs can be either be bought or made with brightly colored paper and markers.

  • See if your town or city has any regulations on posting signs.
  • List your address and sale date(s) on every sign and add arrows if necessary.
  • Make your writing eligible and easy to read!
  • Post them at main intersections, street corners, and at the end of your driveway.
  • Put up a couple of signs a few days before the sale to raise awareness.
  • Keep a list of where you posted the signs.

Place a classified ad in the newspaper before the publication's deadline.

  • Give details and list major items.
  • Have the address, day(s), and time(s) of your sale.
  • Include words such as "Moving" or "Huge" sale to make it stand out more.

Post about your garage sale on social media. Joining sale groups in your area on Facebook and advertising can attract attention for your sale too.

Step 8: Sale Day!

Today is the big day! If you have a pet, it's better to keep them inside if the sale is going to be outside.

  • Remember to wake up EARLY (If your sale is during the morning). There can be early birds and you might not even know it.
  • Keeping a journal, pen, and calculator will be handy.
  • Be friendly and say "Hello" to customers!
  • Label large items as "SOLD" immediately when bought.
  • Thank your customers for visiting.


  • Have someone at the pay table accepting payments and guarding the cash box.
  • Bring in larger amounts of money in the house for safekeeping.

Step 9: After the Sale

  • If you have a 2 day sale, lower the prices on the last day. Have the prices at 50% off and higher the later the day gets. You want to get rid of everything!
  • Once your sale is over but you still have leftover items, don't throw them away. Give them to charity or place them in boxes near the side of the road and label as "Free!". Sometimes it's better to give away things people will need rather than seeing your items sell at a thrift store for an even higher price.

Time to count all of the money you've made! Count the total amount earned from the sale and if you had a multi/family sale, give the amount that they've earned to them.

DO NOT FORGET to pick up any signs that you've posted around your town or city. This helps clean the environment and help save time for law enforcement picking them up for you, or knocking on your door and reminding you.

Step 10: Finished!

You did it! Go spend your cash, save it for the future, or whatever floats your boat.

Hope you enjoyed this instructable and thanks for reading. Happy selling!



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