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  • Writer's pictureKelli A. Wilkins

How to Have a Great Garage Sale (Part 1)

Hello Everyone,


Spring is here, and soon it will be garage sale/yard sale season. If you’re like a lot of people, you probably have some extra stuff lying around. Now is the perfect time to gather it together and have a yard sale.

Part 1 of this series will get you ready for your sale and Part 2 will show you what to do on the day of the sale. Let’s get started!

Where & When to Have Your Sale: Most people have garage sales/yard sales at their homes, but if you live in a remote area, ask a friend or a relative who lives in a more populated place to let you host the sale at their house. (And they can sell some of their stuff too!)

Some towns require a permit to have a yard sale. Permits are usually free, but call and find out. If you don’t have a permit, you risk getting a fine and a visit by the police. (This happened to someone I know. And no, the officer didn’t buy anything.) 

While you’re checking about the permit, ask if your town does an annual townwide sale. A townwide sale means everyone in the town is allowed to have a sale on a certain day, and there’s no permit required. These sales are becoming more popular and are often held in the spring or fall.

If you’re not taking part in a townwide sale, pick a date for your sale. Most people have the sale for one day, with Saturday the most popular day. Avoid scheduling your sale during major holiday weekends because many people are on vacation or celebrating at home.

What to Sell: About two weeks (or a month) before your sale date, start combing through the house and decide what you want to sell. Go room by room and take a hard look at the “stuff” you have. Ask yourself if you still use it, need it, or want it—if not, put it in the sale pile. If you have children, ask them to sort through their toys or collectibles and see what they want to part with.

So, what should you sell? Anything! Toys, books, exercise equipment, furniture, candle holders, bakeware, dishes, clothes, silverware, jewelry, luggage, electronics, holiday decorations, knickknacks, collectible glassware, purses, art supplies, tools… the list is limitless. Yard sales are fun for treasure-seekers. I’ve always said, “You never know what you’ll find.” I’ve seen (and bought) some strange things at yard sales over the years.

If you’re going to sell clothing, make sure it’s in good condition (nothing ripped or stained) and clean. Baby/toddler clothes generally sell well at sales. If you don’t feel comfortable selling the clothes but still want them out of the house, consider donating them to a local charity or Goodwill.

The general rule of selling anything is that it works, it’s clean, and in good shape. Nobody wants to buy a broken lamp, a throw pillow covered in dog hair, or moldy-smelling suitcases. Don’t even try to sell expired food, half-used bottles of shampoo, medicine, or anything illegal. (Yes, I’ve seen people do all this.)

If you don’t have a lot of your own things to sell, invite friends, neighbors, and relatives to join in and have a multi-family sale. The more stuff you put out for sale, the more buyers you’ll attract.

A Few Tips: Now is a good time to make sure you have enough tables to display your merchandise. If you don’t, ask a friend or a neighbor if you can borrow a few. Also, arrange to have at least one reliable person to help you on the day of the sale. You’ll need someone to put up signs and watch merchandise for you.

Be ready to make change for your customers. Quarters and small bills are a must! I get $50 in $1 bills and several dollars in quarters so I can make change easily.

Pricing: Items with prices sell better than items without prices, so it’s to your advantage to price everything. Yard sale shoppers are after bargains, so don’t make your prices too high.

As you do the pricing, ask yourself what the item is worth to you and how much you’d like to get for it. I price things low (under $5) because I want to get rid of them. You can set prices a few dollars higher and go down if someone wants to haggle, or set the price you want and put “firm” on the tag.

If you have many items that are the same price, use a color-coded tag or sticker to make pricing easier. For example, use a green sticker for everything that’s $1, a blue one for things that are $2, a red one for $5, etc. Then make a sign explaining the prices.

I don’t bother pricing anything I’m selling for a quarter. Instead, I group all the items together on one table and make a sign that says “Everything on this table 25 cents each”.

Advertise: A week before the sale, start spreading the word. List your sale on social media (Facebook has groups for yard/garage sales, plus local/town pages), Craigslist,,,, and other sites. You may be able to list your sale on your town’s website.

Keep the listing short, but include your address, date (with a rain date) time, and a bit about what you’re selling. Words like “All must go” and “Everything Priced to Sell” are great attention grabbers.

When it comes to signs and flyers… the bigger the better! You want to attract a lot of attention, so make your signs big and bold. Use bright colored paper and write in HUGE letters with a thick black marker. If people can’t read your sign, they won’t bother to stop at your sale. (I’ve passed by sales because the sign was illegible, too tiny, or didn’t include crucial info.)

Post your signs at both ends of your street, major intersections, and anywhere else you can think of. Sign can generate lots of customers who may be driving around and decide to stop “just to take a look.”

I hope you enjoyed this blog and found my tips helpful. In Part 2, I’ll share more info and advice about what to do on the day of the sale.

Until Next Time,

Kelli A. Wilkins



Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20+ romance novels, 6 mystery/horror ebooks, and several non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror and mystery stories.

She is also the author of More Than I Bargained For, a cozy mini-mystery set at an estate sale.

Visit her website/blog: for a full title list, book summaries, and social media links.


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