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A Dozen Garage Sale Tips

This past Mother’s Day weekend, I had a garage sale at my house. From my experience, I’m sharing some tips that might help you if you’re planning your own sale.

  1. Limit the days and hours of your sale. We had our sale over 3 days, Fri/Sat/Sun on Mother’s Day weekend from 9-6. It was exhausting. The best day of the sale was the first day,Friday. The worse day was Sunday. I would recommend either a one or two-day sale, no more than six hours a day considering that it takes time to set up and take down each day.
  2. Have Plenty of help on Hand. My husband, daughter, and two teens helped me. Besides moving things in and out of the garage and setting up displays, people are needed to take shifts at the table and to greet customers and process payments. Items need to be marked with prices and replaced when they sell.
  3. Advertise in papers, on social media, and with signs and posters. I placed an ad in the local paper and promoted the event on my Facebook page and on a local Facebook group. My daughter made signs she put up around the neighborhood. I also put up a poster at church. I had one person come in response to the Facebook ad and the photos I ran with it of the items available. However, most of the people who came to the sale were walking the neighborhood and just saw the stuff outside.
  4. Check the weather report. We were lucky that we had no rain during the 3-days of our sale. But you might want to schedule a rain date for your garage sale. Also, if it’s sunny or even partly cloudy, you should apply sunscreen. My husband got sunburn because he didn’t.
  5. Record all transactions and payments. Taking a suggestion from a book about garage sales, we used a fanny pack to hold our cash and change. We recorded the amount we started with and then each transaction – what was purchased and what it cost. We tallied the figures up each day and then the grand total at the end. We then checked it against what was left in the fanny pack.
  6. Take Breaks and assign shifts. Be sure to take rest breaks to eat and nap if necessary. Since I’m a morning person, I took the morning shift and my daughter took the afternoon shift.
  7. Have bags and packing material nearby. We had bags available for people to help carry their purchases. However, we could’ve used tissue paper and other packing material. We improvised with newspaper for the delicate items.
  8. Group items by categories and in sets. We displayed our holiday items, baby and children’s toys, books, and other items together and kept the more expensive items near our checkout table. Items that came in sets such as ornaments were sold together.  
  9. Don’t expect to make money. Considering the amount of time and effort, you shouldn’t expect much of a profit. Your goal should be to get rid of unwanted items and hope they find a new home where they can be used.
  10. Learn what’s “hot” from each purchase. As you sell items, observe which ones seem to be more popular. For instance, we almost sold out of my daughter’s crochet yarn, needles, and craft items. We also did well with gardening items. Books and magazines were the least popular items, and we also didn’t sell many stuffed animals or baby items. We didn’t have any tools to sell, but we had requests for them.
  11. Have fun. While there’s a lot of hard work in organizing and holding a garage sale, there’s the opportunity to meet neighbors and see friends. I had a nice surprise when an old friend who I had reconnected with on Facebook but hadn’t seen in years dropped by.
  12. Don’t regret what you sell. I found it hard to part with some things, even though I didn’t have much use for them. But two sales, in particular, made me realize that it was worth it. A young girl with her mother chose the mermaid doll my daughter had loved when she was a child. The doll was in excellent condition. I was happy to see the girl walking around hugging the doll. I was also happy that a patron I knew from the library took home one of my cat tunnels. Afterwards, she shared with me a photo of her cat in the tunnel.


I'm a retired librarian and the author of the Cobble Cove and Buttercup Bend cozy mystery series and other novels, short stories, poems, articles, and a novella. My books include CLOUDY RAINBOW, REASON TO DIE, SEA SCOPE, MEMORY MAKERS, TIME'S RELATIVE, MEOWS AND PURRS, and MEMORIES AND MEOWS. My Cobble Cove cozy mystery series published by Solstice Publishing consists of 6 books: A STONE'S THROW, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, WRITTEN IN STONE, LOVE ON THE ROCKS, NO GRAVESTONE UNTURNED, and SNEAKY'S SUPERNATURAL MYSTERY AND OTHER COBBLE COVE STORIES. My new Buttercup Bend series published by Next Chapter Publishing includes THE CASE OF THE CAT CRAZY LADY and THE CASE OF THE PARROT LOVING PROFESSOR. I've also written a romantic comedy novella, WHEN JACK TRUMPS ACE, and short stories of various genres published as eBooks and in anthologies published by the Red Penguin Collection. My poetry appears in the Nassau County Voices in Verse and the Bard's Annual. I'm a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Cat Writers' Association. I live on Long Island with my husband, daughter, and 2 cats.

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