The Garage Sale Girl’s Guide to hosting a Terrific Garage Sale

It’s that time of year! Spring is in the air and garage sale signs are beginning to dot the corners of our streets and intersections. If you’re ready to jump in and host a sale, here are some tips to help you make the most of it.

Price to sell

When pricing items, keep in mind that "a third of what it costs new" is only a guideline. Remember to be practical when pricing items. Forget what you paid for it all those years ago and be realistic. By putting a high price on your items you risk the chance of selling less, then having to deal with unsold items.  Remember:  EVERYBODY LOVES A BARGAIN!

·         Avery Labels sells blank price stickers that you can format with your computer and print. This is a HUGE time saver. It also beats having to worry about ink smearing on your price tags. You can find these at most office supply stores.

·         Don’t put stickers or labels on anything made of wood. Use blue painter’s tape as an alternative.

·         Put price stickers on the binders of books vs. the front. Avoid any type of adhesive on valuable books.

·         Don’t take the time to price anything less than a quarter. Instead, set up a “25-cent table.” Customers love this and quarters do add up.

·         If you have a bunch of items that have pieces missing or broken, put them in your FREE box with a note - "broken - good for parts" or something similar.

·         Determining the value of items can be confusing. As a garage sale consultant, I can help you get the most profit for your treasures.


·         When placing ads in newspapers and/or online, be specific with dates and hours. Provide an overview of your inventory and be sure to specify “no early birds.”

·         Use sturdy materials when creating signs. Flimsy construction paper just doesn’t do it.

·         Attach a bright balloon on every sign you post. It communicates to customers that you took extra care in setting up your sale. It also distinguishes your signs from others. Milar is more durable than latex and can be reused.

·         The best times to get customers are Thursday 8-5, Friday 8-12 (families leave early to go “up North”), and Saturday 9-3 (you’ll catch people on their way home from running early errands).

·         Use bright paper when making signs for various tables.

 The state of the garage

A garage with oil-stained floors, sawdust and cobwebs communicates to customers that this is also the condition that your items may be in. Before setting up tables and bringing out items to sell, take time to:

·         Dust corners and sweep entire floor; hose down if necessary.

·         Cover oil stains with old rugs or try kitty litter (non-clumping) to pick up the residue.

·         Have an extension cord available for testing electronics.

·         Lighting is key: use as many lamps as you can find. Increase the wattage on bulbs if possible.

·         Move all “not for sale” items into the house, a shed, or to one corner of the garage. Cover the items or place signs on them so customers know they’re not for sale.

 More tips...

·         For safety reasons, have two people running the sale at all times.

·         If you need tables, check with your neighbors. If you belong to a church or VFW, you can ask to use a few banquet tables.

·         Have paper and plastic bags available as well as some newspaper to use as packing material.

·         Lock the doors to your house while you are in the garage.

·         Accept checks. You can call the banking institution on the spot to verify funds. Deposit all checks within 24 hours.

·         Wear comfortable shoes. Your legs will thank you after standing on concrete all day.

·         During the last hour of the sale, announce a “Fill a bag for 5 bucks” sale. The dollars will add up and you’ll have less stuff to pack up and donate.

·         If a customer desperately needs to use your bathroom, be sure that all medications, breakables, and valuables have been removed.

·         Avoid using permanent marker to tag items, especially linens.

·         Have supplies on hand: pens, bright colored paper, scissors, tape, extra labels and note pads.

·         No early birds. If people walk up to your garage the day before or earlier than the advertised sale times, politely ask them to return when the sale starts. It’s not fair to others.

·         Have a variety of batteries available so customers can test small electronics.

·         No sugared drinks at the sale. Bees and ants are a nuisance.

·         Don’t smoke and don’t allow others to smoke in or around your garage. The smell will stay with your items.

·         Dust or polish all of your items before pricing.

·         If selling cutlery, secure the blade with a small piece of cardboard.

·         Notify your neighbors.

·         Be sure you have adequate parking.

·         Strategically place a few bright-colored items at the end of your driveway.

·         Consider a rain plan. Better yet, check out Target, Home Depot or Lowe’s for a pop-up gazebo.

·         Determine a sign placement map (be sure to check with your city offices for sign regulations!)

·         Remove signs at the end of each sale day. Start with the furthest sign and work your way back to your house.

·         Get small change and a calculator for the register.  Have enough 5’s and 10’s on the first morning of the sale. Keep large bills and checks in the house.

·         When selling clothes (including coats) take a minute to search the pockets for money and credit card receipts.

·         If possible, find manufacturer’s guides and warranties, especially for higher-priced items.

·         Place small parts in sandwich bags.

·         Play music during the sale that appeals to everyone – Jazz88 FM (88.5) is a good choice.  Their Bluegrass Saturday Morning program will put smiles on your buyers’ faces.

·         Post a “Children welcome if accompanied by adult” sign at the entrance.

 After the sale

Now that your sale is over, the next step is to ensure that all of the items you moved out to your garage don’t get moved back into your home!

·         Check out Hennepin County’s website. It has “A-Z How To Get Rid Of It” Guide. Click or Copy this link into your browser:

·         Most waste disposal companies will pick up large items for a reasonable fee.

·         Contact organizations such as ARC, Disabled American Veterans, The Lupus Foundation or Courage Center prior to the sale to set up a Monday pickup. is a good place to schedule a pick-up.

·         Sell your remaining items online by posting on Craigslist or