Framed letters spelling "sale" at a roadside yard sale or flea market

5 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

Turn your spring cleaning into cold, hard cash. 

Framed letters spelling "sale" at a roadside yard sale or flea market

Garage sale pro tip: Display large items like furniture out front. Passersby will be more likely to stop if they see big-ticket items.

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No matter where you live, spring is the perfect time to clean up – and spruce up – the inside and outside of your home. After all, it’s called “spring cleaning” for a reason, right? 

Your tasks may vary, but spring cleaning typically includes cleaning out the flower beds, de-winterizing your home and organizing your garage. Inside the home, it usually entails cleaning out closets and decluttering, washing down baseboards and light fixtures, and organizing your belongings. Sounds fun, right? 

Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys cleaning up and organizing. However, spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a fruitless chore. In fact, decluttering your home can easily become a money-making endeavor if you play your cards right. All it requires is a little effort, some organizational skills and a Saturday afternoon to turn your unwanted belongings into cold, hard cash. How? By hosting a garage sale, of course.

Once you’ve decided which of your belongings will get the heave-ho, it’s time to start planning your sale. Start by picking a date on your calendar that is free of other obligations. Keep in mind that most sales run Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, since more people are off work. If you have extra time, consider having your sale on two days to maximize profits. If you only have one day to spare, your best bet is probably Saturday. Once you’ve picked a date, you’ll need to decide when to start your sale. You can open and close your sale any time you want.  Just remember, early shoppers are usually the best ones. 

Now that you’ve picked a date and time for your sale, you need to strategize for the best results. These tips can help:

  • Clean, clean, clean. Nothing will make your shoppers disappear faster than trying to sell items that are dirty, dusty and unkempt. To avoid losing out on potential sales, take the time to clean and dust each item you’re selling. Also, fold clothing to ensure it looks presentable and is free from wrinkles and stains. These tasks won’t take up too much of your time, but they could make a huge difference in your bottom line since people are more likely to buy things in good shape.
  • Group like items together. Some shoppers might be looking for something specific like baby items, clothes or home décor. To make the shopping experience easier for them (and increase the likelihood of making a sale), take the time to group like items together. Also make sure to sort clothing by size and gender. Shoppers looking for clothes are more likely to stick around and search if items are organized in a way that makes sense.
  • Price realistically. Sure, you would like to get full retail price for your used items, but will you? No.  Unfortunately, the resale value of used items and clothing is typically only a small percentage of what they cost new. Nicer items might go for a premium, but you risk annoying your shoppers if you price items too high. If you’re worried about overpricing or underpricing your items, consider what you’d be willing to pay if you bought the item secondhand. You can also visit other garage sales nearby to see what your neighbors are asking, and try to emulate their pricing strategies.
  • Advertise, advertise, advertise. If you want to get as many people as possible to visit your sale, you need to let people know it’s happening. There are plenty of free and cheap ways to get the word out, either on the Internet or through signage. Start by putting a free ad on Craigslist and your personal Facebook page. After that, take the extra time to create and hang outdoor signs that will help guide people to your door. Remember, the sales that get the most traffic are the ones people know about. 
  • Take it outdoors. Keep in mind that big items such as tables, sofas and dressers tend to lure people out of their cars.  If people can’t see them, they might just drive on by. If you’re selling furniture or other in-demand items, it’s important to place them outside and on full display, instead of tucked away in your garage. Doing so might bring in more shoppers which could lead to higher sales. And that’s the whole point, right?

Spring cleaning may not be your cup of tea, but the prospect of earning some extra cash might just be the motivation you need to get started. So, sort through your belongings and decide what you can live without. Holding a garage sale is hard work, but it almost always pays off by freeing up extra room in your home and adding to your bottom line.