Hosting a Garage or Yard Sale–Tips & Tricks

Well!  We’ve been totally immersed in sale talk around here this week.  (Missed it?  Catch up here, here, and here.)  And now, just a few more tips to keep your sale fresh and easy! 

Money Tips

  • I really, really recommend wearing your cash.  Can’t say this enough. 


  • I haven’t tried this but I really want to. You could accept credit card payments through a program like Square. Make sure everyone knows it’s just one more way to pay (that you gladly accept cash!) and be really upfront if you’re going to have to charge a swipe fee. This would be a really great way to handle large sales (if you were selling lots of furniture or “big” – read “expensive” – items.)
  • Carefully examine your costs. If you’re not aware, random sale costs can sneak in. During sales past we’ve always had McDonald’s breakfast and then take-out for lunch (because we’re busy having a sale!) but doing that cuts into your profit margin. This time I cooked the night before so that we’d have “free” food around instead of running out for coffee and donuts.

Stuff & Display Tips

  • Sell something weird.  I mentioned in an earlier post that my grandma once sold dryer lint at a garage sale.  She saved it up, stuffed it in old butter tubs, and priced it to move.  All day long people commented on it and thought it was weird/interesting/scary.  Finally, a woman did buy it (to make paper!) and it made a memory for everyone!  We had some unintentional dryer lint at our last sale…Jason and I put out a box of computer parts with a “make us an offer” tag.  Turns out, most of our shoppers were decidedly NOT computer users and made sure to tell us so and that they would NEVER want to own any of that crap in the box.  It was pretty funny because it was like clockwork.  Almost everyone who looked at the box sneered, made a comment about “those darn computers” and walked off.  (I must disclose that we didn’t sell the computer parts but we did get some good giggles out of that situation…) 
  • There’s a business that runs garage and estate sales for people in my hometown. They always set up a bubble machine outside of their sales. It’s a little talisman that says, “Yup, you’re at a good sale!” It’s just fun and it could keep kids occupied while mom and dad spend money at your sale.
  • Speaking of kids – you might set up a small kids play area. Or encourage kids to play with the toys you have for sale. Again, it keeps them busy while Mom shops and/or the kid gets attached to your junk and begs Dad to buy it.
  • Bring a little radio outside, turn it down low, and tune it to the local radio station. Stores play music, why shouldn’t you?  Keep it family friendly. 

Management Tips

  • Really, truly consider recruiting some helpers….and then empower them to run your sale just as you would.  (This tip stems from the fact that I’m a garage sale shopper and I hate when I inquire about an unmarked item and I hear “Oh, that’s Suzie Q’s and she ran down to the McDonald’s so I don’t know what she wants for it…”  Annoying!  That kind of behavior works at cross-purposes with the mission of a sale – to make more money for less work!)
  • Early birds.  These are the people who show up and bang on your door at 7 AM even when your ad clearly states your sale begins at 8 AM.  Try not to let them stress you out.  You have junk – they have money.  Be nice to them and they might give you some of it!  My suggestion is to get up as early as you can stand to on a sale day.  That way you’re ready for the early birds.  At our last sale the biggest single transaction of my day happened at about 7:30 (when a woman bought $26 worth of small goods from me.)  I was solidly into profit territory before my sale even officially began.  I’ve noticed a few sales lately that are putting right in their advertisement “Early Birds Welcome!”  Those people know there is cash to be made early in the morning. 

Here’s Your Sign

  • If your house has an “unfindable address” consider holding your sale elsewhere.  If it’s going to cost you $30 to buy a classified ad that explains how to take a county road out to your place, it might not be worth it.  (Side note:  I LOVE tracking down rural sales or odd addresses because I use shopping at garage sales as an excuse to really learn my town inside and out!  If you do have a rural/unique-address sale, you’d better have darn good signage.) 
  • What makes for “darn good signage”?  Keep. It. Simple.  Here’s a link to the kind I like to see.  Don’t clutter it up with dates and times.  You probably don’t even need your address…just a big ol’ arrow. 
  • And lastly – once your sale is over, TAKE YOUR SIGNS DOWN!  Most towns have rules about where signs can go and how long they can stay there.  I’m not going to judge you if you put a sign in the median where it’s not supposed to be. (Heck, I’ve done it!) but once the sale is over, go and promptly take your signs down!  They look tacky if they get left out in the weather, they are confusing to next week’s shoppers, and leaving them up is probably illegal. 

Hope your sale goes well! 

3 thoughts on “Hosting a Garage or Yard Sale–Tips & Tricks

  1. Brooke used Square at her Junk Hippy sale. She really liked it, but she was selling higher dollar items. I’m sure she could tell you all about it!

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