Garage Sale Guide

Streamline your life while making a few bucks with our tips. 


One Month Out

Consolidate your castoffs: It’s never too soon to start weeding through your stuff. “I’m constantly tossing things into designated ‘sale’ boxes in my attic or basement,” says Bruce Littlefield, author of Garage Sale America. “You can sell just about anything, but skip valuable items unless you’re willing to part with them for cheap.”

Nail down a date: Guesstimate the best sale days in your area by following ads in neighborhood papers or on sites like Craigslist. “Fridays are big for retirees and collectors, while families tend to shop on Saturdays,” says Christina Heiska, creator of Pick a day that works for you as well as your desired clientele.

Do a little sleuthing: Visit local garage sales to check out layouts, displays and pricing.

Rearrange the garage: What’s hanging on the wall can stay, but anything on the floor should be shoved into a corner or, even better, temporarily relocated to the basement. You can always use the driveway as a backup selling floor, if needed.

The Week Before 

Gather supplies: Heiska’s kit includes a tape measure, markers, wipes, hand sanitizer, scissors, transparent tape, blue painter’s tape for labels, grocery bags for packing up purchases, and newspaper to wrap breakable stuff. Borrow card tables and shelves to organize merchandise. A hanging rack is a must if you plan to sell a lot of clothes.

Fund your bank: Have plenty of small bills and change on  hand. Keep your cash in a safe place, like a cross-body bag or a lockbox.

Spread the word: Heiska recommends placing an ad in local papers, if they’re low-cost. She also suggests a few other places to advertise for free: Craigslist (in the garage sales section),,, Facebook and Twitter. “Be sure to list a few enticing items,” says Littlefield. Current hot  sellers include midcentury modern furniture, collectibles, kids’ toys and clothes.

Post directions: Heiska favors store-bought road signs for neatness and visibility, but Littlefield likes going the do-it-yourself route with poster board and attention- grabbing words like “Dirt Cheap” and “Spectacular.” Call in reinforcements. An extra body or two always helps in case you have to run into the house or make a phone call. Plus the day will be much more fun if friends and family pitch in.

Label every object: “People that go to garage sales are looking for bargains,” says Heiska. “Price all items competitively so they sell quickly.” Allow some wiggle room for haggling, and leave extra space on your tags for markdowns as the day progresses.

24-Hour Countdown 

Set up shop:  An appealing layout encourages browsing and buying. Clean anything that’s grimy and dusty, and group like items. Little touches count. Stuff handbags with newspaper or tissue and arrange books or DVDs in accessible stacks. “Put your best pieces by the entrance to attract passersby,” says Heiska. Set out complimentary lemonade, iced tea or water.

Devise a clean-up plan: “You don’t want to drag unsold items back into your house,” says Littlefield. Leave anything that didn’t sell in a corner of the garage and schedule a charity pickup.

 Sale Day Strategies 

The goal is to get rid of stuff first, make money second. Here are some great tips: 

If an easy chair is listed for $50 and someone offers $20 toward the end of the day, let them have it. A couple of hours before closing time, slash prices at least 50% and announce reductions on all signage.

Set up a dollar table and offer two- for-one deals and bulk discounts.

Put together a freebie box to move small odds and ends. Replenish your stock of giveaways throughout the day. 

llustration By: Julia Rothman