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How to rock a garage sale!

March 20, 2013


Some of my most treasured vintage pieces have been gems mined from yards and garages of a Saturday morning. Not only does it add to one’s personal style aesthetic but it also gives a good boosts to the savings account so that funds can be spent on more exciting things like trips to Tasmania (stay tuned!).

We decided to throw a garage sale this weekend just past. It was a raging success so I thought I would share a little insight for those of you who might have pondered the notion of turning your own humble abode into a commercial pop up!

Whilst Spring is one of the most favourable times to hold a garage sale, a well advertised event will draw crowds and then it’s up to you as to the success of your event. A well run garage sale will see you enjoy many benefits including:

  • A home clear of unnecessary clutter
  • Bargains finds for people who will use and love them well
  • An opportunity to meet people in your local community
  • Surplus cash, it would not be unusual to turn $500 – $1000 in a morning

So why not give it a go or perhaps co-ordinate with neighbours or friends.

group shot talc tins

Whilst it may not seem too involved, I can share from experience both as a vendor and buyer that the best and most successful sales are those well planned.

A month in advance:

Decide on a date

  • If you can only do one day on the weekend, choose Saturday over Sunday as that is the biggest day for them. Ideally, a two day sale is best (Saturday and Sunday). We once had a garage sale that went all week and as the week went by the discounts got bigger until we eventually gave away what was left – the result no trips to the thrift store or dump!
  • Begin collecting and organizing items that will be placed in the yard sale.
  • Allocate space to store pieces for the “sale”.
  • Notify friends and family so that they can be include items as well, we advertised our recent sale on facebook which attracted buyers.
  • If you are are not familiar with the typical price of items at garage sales, it might be an idea to visit some each week leading up to yours to get a feel for the general asking prices.

One week in advance

  • Advertise – we used the Courier Mail ($12) & posted a Facebook event (free)
  • Think about who you really want to attract and list the big ticket items (furniture, home appliances, etc) as well as general terms – glassware, bedding, clothing, etc
  • If selling only a certain size of clothing and a large amount, list the sizes if you are comfortable (for example: shoes 9-10, sizes 8-12) as it will attract a target audience that knows they will find something and is wanting to bargain shop.

A Few Days Before

  • Make sure you have enough tables and clothing racks to display all of items in an organized manner.
  • If you don’t have access to clothing racks, get creative – a long wooden pole can hang between two trees/ladders/etc – just make sure it is straight.
  • Fix or clean any items that you are going to sell (furniture, clothing, etc)
  • You could label everything… (we never do) – if you don’t want to label every item of clothing, at least in your head or with  your partner in commerce – check with each other if there are any minimum price points so if the other person is busy dealing with a customer you can negotiate on the item
  • You can create signs (neat & printed) that inform the bargain hunters of the price of items in this group.
  • Remember you want to clear your clutter – be reasonable – we often go to sales and the prices are ridiculous, they will never sell the stuff at those prices.
  • Go to the bank and organise a change kitty.
  • Optional – make signs that will be placed around your area to help direct drivers to your yard sale.
  • Stick to a color theme or phrase that helps the drivers know when they see your sign, they are going in the right directions.
  • Include large, visible arrows.
  • Include the address, time, dates

The Day/Night Before

  • Place the signs up – we put up signs at the end of our street – do a test run to make sure the signs are visible and easy to understand from both angles.
  • Set up your sale – make sure everything is well spaced, organised and items are easy to see.
  • Make sure items are easy to browse and not all piled on top of each other or hangers sliding down or racks falling over under the weight of clothes – very unchic!
  • You want your space to be like a boutique or vintage shop!
  • Organize and group together all of the items that will be in the sale.
  • We create different spaces – eg bigger pieces in the yard, man land in the garage, bicycle lane on the driveway, ladies lounge up on the verandah etc.
  • If you won’t be placing the tables out until the morning, organize everything into groups so they are easy to grab and situate when the time comes.
  • Create a cashier’s box and place in a secure location

The Day of the Sale

  • Wake up early – we get up at 4am
  • Wear sunscreen and drink lots of water
  • Plan on having everything set up at least an hour before you are to be open
  • Place a large sign on your street to let people know you are open with a sale not to be missed!
  • Welcome early birds – they want to buy from you!
  • Treat every person who attends your sale with the utmost respect – they have made a special effort to come to your ‘shop’
  • Negotiate in a friendly manner – if you can strike a deal great but if they can’t meet your price – no worries! Never get upset or take it personally – just let them know that their price won’t work for you.
  • Create an inviting atmosphere – play nice music – have the aroma of freshly brewed coffee lingering

Reassess Prices & Reorganize

  • At the end of the day (if you are having a two day sale) or by mid-morning (if the sale will only be one day), go through your prices and see what is working and which prices to change.
  • Move items around for the best display.
  • Eliminate tables to allow for better navigation as more items are sold.

Immediately After the Sale is Over

  • Take down all of your signs.
  • Take the remaining items to Goodwill or a local donation entity.
  • Return the tables and clothing racks if they were borrowed.
  • Deposit your proceeds.

The only thing left is to sit back, relax, maybe take a nap like I did in the afternoon then enjoy the new space and spoils of your labours!


[Photography by VintagebyLouLou]

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