Tips for Buying/Selling at a Garage Sale

I didn’t understand the appeal with Garage Sales until a few years ago. I started going to them with my boyfriend, now husband. His family has been going to them for years so we started joining in.
At first I wasn’t really into it, I didn’t love the idea of buying other people’s things and then I realized that they. are. awesome!
I mean c’mon, I could get Yankee Candles for $3.00, Kids clothes for $1.00 a piece, any furniture I needed for next to nothing. I mean anything you are looking for you can find. It takes a bit of digging and sorting, but you will inevitably find what you want…or realize you need so badly because those pair of sunglasses were $140 in the store you saw them in last week and are now being sold for $5.00!

I am going to go over a few tips on both buying and selling. It’s not rocket science, but you do have to know a few tips.


  • You always have to have small bills with you, don’t assume that the person having the sale will have change. You don’t want to lose an item that you really want because all you have is $50.00 (I would try to stick with $10, $5 and $1’s if you can)
  • Have a list together of the things that you are looking for. During the winter when you don’t have garage sales to go to just add to your list. It’s easy to get distracted and forget the things that you actual want to pick up.
  • The chances that the piece you want will come in the form you need it are slim. If you need a table, you will most likely need to sand it, paint it, shorten it etc… You need to make sure that you keep your eye’s open and peeled. It is very rare that you find exactly what you are looking for. Just remember that you can make it your own!
  • Normally the more you buy the better deal you get. If you watch American Pickers you will know that they call it “Bundling” {If you don’t watch American Pickers then what is wrong with you!! LOL}. If your daughter is begging you for a few barbies, but you also want to pick up a few books and a candle changes are you will be able to get a better deal when you buy them all together. That leads up to the next time
  • Haggle, like it’s your job! This is the one thing that I struggle with. I am very uncomfortable doing it, but it’s what you do. You are supposed to. People put their prices up because they know you are going to haggle. It makes you feel so good to get something at “your” price and not theirs ;). Try it at least once!

Now onto SELLING:

  • Putting on a garage sale takes a lot of time, it’s not a whole lot of fun planning, but you will usually make good money and the day of it’s normally a nice day.
  • You decide at some point that you are going to have a sale. At that point you want to make sure when you put things aside you keep everything in categories. This way when you take them out for the sale you already have all your clothes, electronics, toys etc… together.
  • If you are selling clothes, wash them ALL a few days/the day before, dust all electronics and clean all toys and surfaces. You wouldn’t buy something that you see as dirty so why would someone else. Make sure to keep your eyes open… when it is in your house you don’t tend to see it as dusty or dirty but it usually is. Plus if you sale is clean people will remember and will always come back to your next one.
  • Make sure you have a ton of change, including small change. You don’t want to turn your first or 5th customer away because you don’t have quarters or $1.00’s. The more change you have the better chances you have of not needed it all
  • Price everything so people don’t have to ask. A lot of the time people don’t want to wait for an answer so if there isn’t a price they may not wait. You don’t want to lose a sale because of a simple price tag. If you don’t want to price everything then setup tables. A table with a big sign that says “Everything $1.00”, “Everything $5.00.” If you have BIG items that can’t fit on a table just make a big sign and tape it to the item itself.
  • It helps if you have a “cheat sheet.” I like to write all the prices down in a notebook so that if someone else was helping them I still know what the prices were. Then you can cross off your items as they get sold.
  • Make sure that one person stays in control of the money at all times. If you have too many people giving out change money will get lost along the way. Everyone can take money from the customer but it should all go to one person. It makes counting the money at the end of the day much easier.
  • If you have kids setup a lemonade stand. Most adults can’t say no to kids and this way they can go to the toy store when the sale is over and get something fun for themselves. {No kids then offer water and soda, if its hot it will sell out!}
  • Try to have at least 3-5 people helping. You need eyes everywhere and it helps to have a few people to answer questions
  • Try to give deals…movies $2 a piece or 3 for $5.00. People will usually buy the 3 movies instead of just 1 or 2. Try to do this as much as you can…it does help
  • Make sure you do your sale either Friday/Saturday or Saturday/Sunday. Do it from either 8-4 or 9-5. You can do it shorter but the longer you stay “open” the more people you will get. A lot end at 3 so you could probably end it around then if you don’t want to commit all day.
  • Have everything ready if possible the night before. We setup tables and set everything up before dinner the Friday before (As we have ours Sat/Sun.) All the tables get setup with signs and we then cover them with tarps and bungee them so all the tarps stay secure. If you can’t do it the night before then you have to get up extra early to have it done about 30 minutes before its scheduled to start.
  • You WILL ALWAYS have early birds, its your choice whether or not you want to let them in. We tend to say no. They are normally looking for a deal and that always pisses me off before the sale actually starts.
  • When placing your AD you can do it in the paper {It will cost roughly $20.00}, place it on FB and Craigslist and always post pictures. The more pictures the better, be descriptive of when and where the sale is and let them know yes or no to Early Birds.
  • People will want to Haggle, as mentioned above, but make sure you remember…you have TWO days. Don’t go too crazy right away…
  • When making your “cheat sheet” its a good idea to write down the price you are starting with and the lowest price you will go too. It ensures that if someone else is selling your stuff for you they A} won’t have to stop to ask you the price and B} it won’t go for a cheaper price than you wanted. That means there are no hurt feelings or arguments LOL.
  • Keep in mind that once you hit the second day your main objective is to sell everything. The second day is when you start to lower prices. Make sure it is known that they are lowered…cross off the first price and write in the second. This way people will see that they are getting an even better deal. Don’t put it to the lowest price you want because you still want room to haggle for your own sake.
  • When you have kids you need to make sure you have something for them to do. Get them a new toy, setup a couple of spots for them to do sidewalk chalk, allow them to invite friends over etc… The busier they are then they smoother their day will go.
  • If you have electronics make sure you test them before putting them up for sale. That being said, your best bet is to have a setup somehow so you can prove everything works. We normally setup an extension cord in the garage so we can plug things in there. Don’t be afraid to use the table you have for sale to put your TV on it. You don’t have to go as far as making them a bagel with cream cheese to test a toaster but if its an XBOX 360 or a TV in order to get the price you want/deserve you will probably have to show them it works. The toaster, if they don’t take your word for it then seriously you have the right to tell them to F off! LMAO
  • It will be hot… no matter how much you love the heat its just stupid to get heat stroke. If you don’t have some canopy’s then rent some. You should try to setup a few in your driveway up around your tables (rent those too if you don’t have them.) If the people that come to your sale are able to escape the heat, grab a soda and walk around while getting their questions answered then why wouldn’t they buy something 🙂


my princess and daddy serving her lemonade/iced tea

So there ya go… MomofTwoSalums’ tips for running and buying at Garage Sales. I hope you learned a little bit from this and are able to use the information to help you buy/sell better. If you have any questions please feel free to ask! I will more than happy to answer anything.


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One response to “Tips for Buying/Selling at a Garage Sale

  1. Pingback: Yard Sale | lovelyseasonscomeandgo·

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