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  • Writer's pictureKelli A. Wilkins

How to Have a Great Garage Sale (Part 2)

Hello Everyone,


Welcome to Part 2 of my blog series on how to have a great garage sale. In Part 1, I discussed what to do before you have a sale. In this blog, I’ll give you some expert tips and advice on what to do on sale day. Ready? Let’s go!

Start with Signage: Put up all your signs as early as possible. (I enlist a helper to take care of the signs while I set up the sale.) If your sale starts at 8am, start putting up signs by 6:30 or 7am. You can also attach balloons to your mailbox or a tree to help shoppers find your house. Remember, you want to draw customers to your location. Which brings me to…

Early Birds: Early birds (or EBs) are people who show up hours before your sale starts. They think that by arriving super-early they can get the best deals, but they’re just an annoyance. I’ve been besieged by EBs parked outside my house two hours before my sale started. They weren’t happy when I wouldn’t let them dig through my unpacked boxes, and got huffy when I told them to come back later.

If you engage with EBs while you’re setting up, have a friend or a relative keep an eye on them, just in case they decide to help themselves to something while you’re busy. (Yes, shoplifting does happen at garage sales.) If you’re selling small, high priced items like watches or jewelry, it’s a good idea to have a helper stand guard over them during the sale.

Setting Up: Now it’s time to set up your sale. I put large or higher-priced merchandise (bikes or furniture) at the end of the driveway, closer to the road. This will attract people who are passing by, and might entice them to stop.

From there, I line both sides of my driveway with tables. This lets the shoppers see everything I have for sale, and they’re more likely to buy stuff if they can see it.

Group similar items together on one table. For example, make a table of kitchen-related items, such as dishes, mugs, sugar bowls, etc. When customers can see all of your themed merchandise in one place, they may linger and buy more. If you’re selling several small items (stuffed animals, paperback books, gift bags) put them in a box and label the box “$5 All”. It’s a fast way to make a sale.

Be sure you have extra price stickers, pens, tape, newspapers (for wrapping breakables) and bags handy. Keep your change/cash box in a safe location and assign a helper to watch over it when you’re busy waiting on people or need a bathroom break.

While You’re Selling: Make your sale an inviting and engaging environment. Talk to everyone and be friendly. Greet them with a simple “Good morning” or “Hello” and ask if they’re looking for something specific. If people feel comfortable, they’ll browse longer.

I’ve been to sales where the seller was yelling at their spouse, arguing with children, ignoring customers because they were talking on the phone (or texting or playing games) and doing all sorts of other rude behavior. Their actions/attitudes drove people away from the sale. Don’t let this be you.

As you sell down, rearrange the stuff you still have (and regroup it if needed) so it looks like you still have a lot of merchandise. This will keep shoppers interested.

Haggling: People have different opinions about haggling. Some people set higher prices knowing they’ll go down if someone asks for a deal, while others refuse to budge on the price. Haggling is up to you. My advice is to use your best judgement. If you’re selling a bookcase for $10 and someone offers you $2, you’re okay with refusing the offer. If someone offers you $1 less than the listed price on something you don’t really love and want to get rid of, take the $1. After all, the goal here is to sell your stuff and make some money.

Winding Down: As the sale winds down, start lowering prices. I do this two hours before the sale ends. I also place stuff I know I don’t want in a box, label it “FREE” and put it at the curb. People will stop to check it out, and may do some shopping, too.

After the Sale: As soon as the sale is over, ask a helper to remove all the signs. Most towns don’t like them hanging around after a sale.

Do a final sort of the unsold merchandise. Ask yourself if you really need or want each item, and if not, it goes into a donate box. Drop off all your donations or arrange for them to be picked up as soon as possible. I find it liberating to be rid of extra “stuff” and don’t even remember (or miss) what I’ve sold or donated.

If you have large items that didn’t sell, you can post an ad for them on Facebook, Craigslist, or other sites.

When all the unsold merchandise has been sorted, sit back and count your money. Hopefully, you made a good profit. What do you do with the money? Anything you want. You’ve earned it! Why not save it for a vacation, go out to dinner, buy flowers for your garden, or donate it to a local animal shelter?

Having a great garage sale takes a bit of work, but in the end, it’s worth it. You’ve got some extra money, less stuff, and lots of customers who are satisfied with their treasures.

Hope you have a great sale!

Until Next Time,




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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