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Box with “garage sale” written on it, surrounded by knick-knacks, with two women in the background

How to Plan a Successful Garage Sale


With spring on its way, it’s time to dig in and deep clean. While you’ve got your closets, cupboards, and garage cleared for dusting, cleaning, and rearranging, consider selecting a few items you no longer use and hosting a garage sale. This handy guide will help you properly prepare, so you can be sure things go smoothly and you end up with the most possible cash in your pocket.

Should It Stay or Should It Go

The first step is to decide what items to sell at your garage sale. Anything from books to clothing to CDs and DVDs are perfect, as are old tools and housewares. However, if you have larger, more valuable items you’re ready to part with, such as antiques or a recent model flat-screen TV or computer, consider selling it to a dealer or on Craigslist – you will be more likely to get what it’s worth. The same goes for jewelry.

Get Legal

If you feel you have enough items for a sale and are serious about doing it, now’s the time to look into permitting. Many cities require you to pay a small fee to have a garage sale. Be sure to look up signage rules as well. Some cities allow short-term posting of signs, as long as you take them down after the sale is over. Other cities have different rules, so be sure to find out what the law is where you live.

Get It Together

Dedicate one room in your home to preparing for your garage sale and organize your items into categories like baby, tools, garden, kitchen, etc. Once you’ve collected everything you’re going to be selling, start pricing it all. You’ll want to price things fairly low or they won’t sell. Shoot for $5 or below on most items and even less for CDs and paperbacks.

Gather Your Supplies

Find a toolbox or other utility box you can use for money, and then visit the bank and get a full range of denominations – everything from quarters to pennies. You will also need a comfortable chair to sit in and tables to display all your goods. If you have garment racks, they will work great for displaying hanging clothes, but you can also hang items from your gutters or a low tree limb if necessary.

Get The Message Out

A day or two before sale day, use your marker and some craft paper to create a few signs to stick up on telephone poles and street signs around your neighborhood. You will also want to post your sale on Craigslist and other online garage sale and community activity boards. Make sure your signs and online ads all contain the time and date of your sale as well as your address.

Get Ready To Roll

The night before your sale, gather the tables and clothing racks or bins you’ll use to display items together. If you can, stage all your sale items, so you can just open the garage and pull them into place. If that won’t work, decide where everything will go and draw a map, so you don’t have to think about it the next morning when you’re setting up.

It’s A Wrap

When your sale has ended, you will more than likely have some items left over. There are a few options for what to do with these. You can put them in a box and leave it by the curb, you can try selling them on Craigslist, or you can take them to Goodwill. The Goodwill option has the benefit of leaving you with a good feeling about helping people, and you can ask for an itemized receipt and use your donation to offset your taxes. Or you can always return your leftover items to your closet and wait for your next sale.

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