When I was growing up my mom had at least one garage sale at our house per summer and frequented others garage sales all summer long. Throughout my adult life I’ve always lived in too urban of an environment to have a garage sale (read: I’ve never owned a GARAGE), so I thought my mom would be the best person to share her her tips on staying ORGANIZED when hosting a garage sale!
Ahead of Time
- Pull out all the items you want to sell (no brainer right?). Just remember, you need a lot of items and some good large furniture pieces to draw people in. If you don’t have enough stuff on your own, get others to join you!
- Test out all electrical items to ensure that they work before adding to the garage sale pile.
- Put small pieces to any items in to a taped ziplock bag (such as game pieces, extra screws/nails, etc)
- Gather all your supplies (see below for full list).
- Price all your items and make sure EVERYTHING has a price sticker on it. Even inf you’re putting items in a bin with a sign denoting the price, I (well my mom) strongly recommends that you still put a price on individual items. It will save you a lot of time at checkout!
- Decide if you will accept checks and/or 100 dollar bills. My mom chose not to accept either. She actually had a situation where someone gave her a bounced $10 check. The bank charged her $12 for trying to cash a bad check. She laughs that she had to pay $2 to get rid of the item. Hopefully it won’t happen to you!
- If you decide to have limitations on what of money you’ll accept, make sure there’s signs clearly stating something along the lines of “No checks or bills over $20 accepted” so that there’s no confusion (or awkwardness at checkout)
- Get plenty of change! $1s, $5s and quarters are what you’ll need the most of! My mom starts off with $50 in 1’s, $50 in 5’s and $10 in quarters. Regardless of how much you start with make sure to write down the amount! It sounds obvious, but I’ve forgotten and then had trouble reconciling our profits afterwards.
- If you’re doing a garage sale with others, give everyone a different color price sticker to label THEIR items. That way any of you can handle checkout for any items. (See supply items below for a group checkout form)
- A day before, move your car out of the driveway, preferably a block away from your house. The more parking you can make available for potential guests the better. I’ve skipped stopping at garage sales because parking looked like a nightmare.
- Even though you won’t be selling your items for retail prices, you need to think of your garage & driveway as a retail shop. Clothes organized by type, size, and gender. Home items organized by room of house (kitchen, bath, etc). Big ticket items out in front at the edge of the driveway to lure your guests in. Keeping with the mentality of a retail shop makes setting up your garage sale surprisingly easy, which brings me to …..
Set Up / Layout Tips
- On a piece of paper, draw out your garage sale space (garage and driveway) and label where EVERYTHING will go. It can be overwhelming to try to figure out where to put all your items the night before the garage sale, so having a ‘floor plan’ will help immensely. For example, put all kitchen items on one table, CDs and movies on another table, etc. You’ll also know if you have enough tables for your items.
- As you’re drawing out your floor plan, keep in mind that you want your place to be organized, but it also need to showcase that you have a LOT of items. Sparse garage sales typically get passed up by those driving by.
- Put big items closer to the street as people come by in cars to look before they stop and get out.
- To gauge how much space your items will take up on your card tables, place the items on your kitchen table to get an idea. Even if your kitchen table is no where close to the size of your card tables you’ll be using for your garage sale, you’ll be able to get a feel for the space.
- Are you selling any NEW items that have never been used before? That’s the only exception to my layout guidelines. Put these items on a separate table with a HUGE sign staying “NEW”. My mom has always had great success putting this table closer the street.
- Keep smaller more expensive items closer to your garage / in the back. Things such as video games, jewelry, CDs (really anything that has a higher price point) should be within eye shot of where you’ll be stationed. Never want to think that someone would steal, but better safe than sorry.
- Checkout station. Keep this location somewhere easy for guests to get to, but also in the shade (you’ll thank me around 2pm). Putting a table cloth over your checkout table, not only helps make it more identifiable for guests, but also allows you to tuck items underneath and out of site (think: money)
- Put clothes on tables sorted by size and gender with large signs taped to the table.
- Bins and boxes are great for books, videos and any items you want to charge the same price for (remember to still label each item individually).
- The night before the sale move the furniture you want into the garage if you haven’t already. Always put the heavier furniture near the garage door so that it’s easy to bring in and out.
- Have an extension cord plugged in to an outlet to make it easier for customers to test out electronics themselves.
- Play music. It gives you something to listen to throughout the day and the guests will enjoy it to!
- Wear a fanny pack. I’m not sure if the trend is ever coming back (or if it was ever there to start with), but I LOVE any reason to wear a fanny pack. It’s super useful to have some money and pens stored inside. Then you can checkout someone at any spot. (photo of me)
- Each hour do a scan of the area to see if anything needs to be reorganized or refolded. Remember a clean organized area will make it easier for guests to find what they want and purchase!
- Throughout the day, do a check to ensure you’ve got enough small bills/change in your money box. If you’re running low have your spouse or co-host run to the bank.
- If you have tarps available, keep them in the garage. It’s good to cover tables in case a fast downpour .
A couple safety tips from my mom (hopefully you’ll never had to run into these):
- When someone gives me bills, I mention the amount they gave me and what I will give them back. I try to hold the bill they gave me in my hand until the transaction is done. One time a lady said to me “I only have a 20”. After a few minutes shopping she gave me a 10. I noticed it wasn’t what she said but didn’t say anything. She tried to tell me she gave me a 20. Finally when I kept saying no, she looked in her purse and found the 20.
- Some people have kids that need to use our bathroom. I make sure no money is laying loose inside and that someone is helping take them inside. There’s been reports in our town of items getting stolen inside homes when people have to use the bathroom. This is another reason to NOT do the garage sale alone!
- Be aware of where your money box is. As you get a lot of money take some of the big bills and put in a safe spot in your house.
Garage Sale Supplies
- Calculator (I know we all live in a world where our phone is our calculator, but it definitely comes in handy during garage sale time)
- Plastic or paper grocery bags to put in sold items
- Newspaper (to wrap fragile items)
- Garage Sale Revenue Tracker (download yours below!)
- Money box with change (see above for tips on how much money to have on hand)
- Extension cords plugged in to an outlet (to allow people to test out any of your electronics)
- Clipboards for each host (makes it SO much easier to write down the purchases especially if you’re not at your host table)
- Lots of pens
- A couple permanent markers
- plastic for rain protection
- Plastic sheets or blankets for anything going on the ground
- Colored price stickers
- Extra paper (to make ‘sold’ signs on anything that gets accounted for but not picked up immediately)
- Radio/speakers (for music)
- Measuring tape (in case any guests want to measure furniture before purchasing)
- Folding tables
- Lots of cheap metal hangers
- Clothing rack
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May you have the most organized AND profitable garage sale on the block!
What a great, thorough post on organizing a garage sale! There are so many different moving pieces when it comes to yard sales, it’s great to have all of this info in one spot. I am mustering up the courage to do a yard sale this summer. They can be so much work. We’ll see if it happens. 😉
Lindsay @ Crazy Organized says
Thanks dear! You’ll have to let me know how yours goes!
I’ve never had a garage sale. It looks like it would be overwhelming. You’re so organized that I’m inspired.