An Organized Garage Sale

May 6

Finally – fiiiiiinally – 11 long months after our successful garage sale, I’m here to share the organized details! Not that I haven’t had enough going on since then; Finding out we are moving out of state, putting our house on the market, selling our house, moving to a rental house, finding a new California house. Yup, not much going on over here – this should have totally been shared months ago.


Some of you may have seen the title of this post and wondered what you could possibly learn from me. There are tons of great organized garage sale deets around the web. I’m sure you’ve read a few if you’re planning a garage sale in the near future. But this is my personal take on garage sales. So maybe a few of my tips will be something you haven’t considered.

Very soon I’ll share more great organized garage sale tips I’ve spotted around the web – and some printable’s too!

Before you have a garage sale, ask yourself if you have enough items for a sale. If you’re going to put in all that hard work and labor (trust me, there is a lot of work involved), make sure you have enough items to make the sale worth your time and effort. If you have the space, try to accumulate as much as possible before hosting a sale.

In our case, we had plenty of space! When my husband and i decided that at some point down the road we would have a garage sale, we started squirreling items away under the house. Each time we had a bag full of things or a large item to sell, we’d toss it under the house….

When it started hindering our ability to easily get inside this area, time for the sale!…



When it comes to garage sales, pretty much anything goes. I think this comes down to a personal decision. For me, when I have big ticket items to sell and am not willing to negotiate on the price, I opt to sell them on Craig’s list or Ebay. Something important to remember is that garage sales attract buyers that love a good deal. So while you may have paid a lot for something, try not to expect you’ll get close to what you paid for it. It’s hard to do that, but remember garage sales are intended to help you rid yourself of clutter and unwanted items, while making a little money in the process.
As far as what to sell, anything goes! Even old or broken items that could be repaired. You just never know who will show up at your sale. Could be someone looking for broken furniture or household items because they enjoy a good DIY project.
Even if you think you have thoroughly gone through your house for potential sale items, check again! After a few days of tagging your items before the sale, walk through the house one more time to see if anything else can go. You’ll be surprised that you may find something in your kitchen cabinet that you forgot about.
If you’re worried that you won’t have enough items to sell, consider asking a few friends to join you. When I see signs that say “multi-family garage sale”, there tends to be a lot of traffic. While you may not have enough to sell, if you group together with some buddies, you’ll get the traffic you were hoping for.
If you’re up for the challenge, consider being the organizer of a neighborhood garage sale. Again, when it’s more than one household looking to get rid of items, you’ll get more traffic. And it’s a great way to get your neighbors on board without upsetting them (too much) when all the cars start rolling down your street and parking in front of their house on garage sale day.

On that note, be sure to make your neighbors aware of the date and times of your garage sale. Some neighbors get annoyed with the extra traffic, parked cars and noise. If you live in an association you may need to let them know as well. When we had a garage sale in our first home, we lived in an association and they required advance notification of garage sales. It’s an annoying extra step, but better to let them know up front without getting dinged with any HOA violation fees.

Now that you have all of your sale items gathered up and maybe even wrangled a few friends in on the idea, time to choose a date/time for your sale. When it comes to this,  I have found that anything goes as well! lately in our area, I’ve noticed garage sales taking place on Thursday and Friday mornings. Makes sense for those not interested in wasting away a perfectly good weekend. I think in general, most sales take place on Thursday, Friday or Saturday mornings – and sometimes Sunday. We live in the bible belt…So Sunday morning garage sales aren’t very popular around here. Just take into consideration where you live and take note of how everyone else has been structuring their sales.

Now that you know when you want your sale to take place, how are you going to get the shoppers flowing in? Advertise! there are a variety of ways to do this.

* You can utilize free advertising resources like Craig’s list or
* Make creative and colorful signs and hang them or post them around town.
* Don’t forget to put the word out on your facebook page, if you’re a member.
* You can advertise in your local paper for a small fee. We found this to be the most useful tool for advertising in our area. Almost everyone that came to our sale found out about it in the paper. Our paper not only advertises the sale for you, but they put all of the garage sales in our area into a map…Making it easier for garage salers to get around to the various sales. smart idea! And it only cost us $14 to advertise in the paper over several days!

The point is to get rid of everything, while making a little extra cash. So it’s a good idea to get your sale items as viewable as possible. No sense in having clothing piled up in a ball – not everyone is going to have time to dig through boxes of stuff.

* Consider locating long folding tables (you can borrow these from friends, your church or school, etc). Long tables are great for laying out items…And you can lay items below the table as well creating 2 tiers.

* If you can also borrow clothing racks, that’s awesome too! I borrowed 4 racks from various friends and we loaded them up. It really helped shoppers easily scan through what we had (i also had the clothing broken down into size, gender, etc)…

* If you can’t locate tables or racks, you can turn cardboard boxes over to create tables or lay cardboard boxes flat on the ground and place items on top of them. Just as long as your shoppers can SEE what you have, you’ll be in good shape to sell a lot more.

Personally, I love to buy items that are clean. If possible, consider washing and hanging the clothing you have for sale. And if you are selling kitchen utensils or anything related to children, cleanliness is important!  If you have household decor, think about wiping off dust or cleaning mirrors or glass surfaces. You may make a little more money and not have a buyer trying to wheel and deal with you if your items look clean and new.

As I went through our things, there were many items I ran across that didn’t seem worth selling, so I started a “free” box. I filled it with lots of random items and at the end of the sale everything was gone.

When it comes to pricing your items, remember this is a garage sale and you’re going to attract folks looking for a good deal…Or to wheel and deal period. In order to cut down on potential wheeling and dealing, we started our prices VERY low. I don’t think we had anything tagged for more than $5…Unless it was a big ticket item like a tv or bike or the fire pit we sold. But most of the smaller items, clothing and household pieces were all tagged at $5 or less. When I thought I could stand to take off a little more, I did! Because our prices were low to begin with, we didn’t have people asking to lower the price. It made the early part of the morning, when there tend to be the huge crowds, move much smoother.

As far as the price tags, I used a combination of bright stickers and hanging tags for the clothing – both found at my local Walmart. Make the price and size BIG, bold and easily viewable so that shoppers don’t have to pick up everything….

The tagging and sticker process took a while, but it REALLY helped come sale morning. Here is a table I had set up in the garage with hangers, clothing and tagging supplies….

We had bins and bins and biiiiiiiins (and bags!) of clothing. I stood at the table for a loooong time, but it was worth it. And I took a little money from the sale to immediately get myself a deluxe pedicure once it was over…


We had people bombarding us with armfuls of clothing and they were in a hurry to check-out so they could run off to the next garage sale. If we didn’t know a general price range for each item, we would have been throwing numbers out willy-nilly. It helped to have that general price range…Especially for my husband, who was playing cashier. The above sweater was brand new from Janie & Jack…He may have let it go for $1 had i not put that $4 sticker on the tag. So it really did help!

When it comes to similar items like books or cd’s, consider selling them all at the same price. It will make your life easier when someone walks up to you with an armful of cd’s or books or gift bags. I loaded up bins with all of our like items and taped a sheet of paper with the price written clearly on the outside of the bin…


If you’re selling bedding or anything you’d like to have sold together, make sure all of the pieces are tied together with a ribbon, for example, and that the tag clearly states what is included. I put clean sheet sets inside large ziploc bags and wrote on the bag with a sharpie…

Or I bundled bedding sets together with ribbon…

I also made note of anything special on the price tag. Over the years we’ve received quite a few handmade baby blankets. On the tag I made note that the blankets were “handmade”. These went quickly…


When it came to how our sale would physically be set up, I wanted to create a open flow where shoppers could walk easily and not get cramped. Because we had so much stuff, I set up zones or “departments”, if you will, that were clearly labeled. For example, Christmas, bedding, toys, shoes, clothing, etc. The zones created themselves as I went through the process of unpacking everything we had in that storage unit. Here is how we looked the night before the sale….





A rack of shoes and baby items (sorry I didn’t get the fell length)…

Puzzles and games..The toy table was to the right in this photo…

Along the far wall, you can see the long folded tables loaded up…

On these tables there was a variety of items…Household and kitchen…


More “stuff”…

We had a pretty large garage, so our plan was to have everything set up inside and open one of the garage doors. You can see in this photo where the check-out table was…

When we had the garage sale in our first house (years ago) we didn’t have a garage this size. Instead we used the entire length of our driveway…Making sure to place items at the end of the driveway to entice people to stop and poke around. 🙂

Getting a garage sale put together is hard work! Here’s Charlie getting some rest near the “free” box…


We filled pretty much every square inch of the garage perimeter. On sale day, shoppers had tons of room to walk around and browse. Once items started thinning out, we re-arranged and opened a 2nd garage door. It all came together well!

For our sale we had about $100 in various bills. Depending on how you price your items, you may want to have a lot of change as well. This will help should you have items priced at $.25 or $.75. We had a few friends join us for the sale, which helped when people had questions, but each of us handled our own sales and money. I asked my husband to handle our money/sales. He’s a numbers guy and it took him no time to calculate in his head how much everything added up to…Especially when you’re selling items that are $.50 or $.75 each. Before your sale begins, make sure everyone knows their job….That initial rush of people can be overwhelming and if everyone knows what they are doing before hand, it helps a lot.

The day before our garage sale, I placed 3-4 signs at the major intersections near our house. Then, on the morning of the sale, I put balloons at the entrance to our neighborhood and signs inside our neighborhood pointing drivers our way. Finally, I put balloons directly in front of our house. Our neighbors appreciated the signs inside our court because it kept people from driving around the entire neighborhood to find us.

This is totally a personal decision but it worked out very well for us – consider setting up a snack table. The table was managed by the boys and they did a great job! It was a fun way to keep them entertained and out of the crowds. We had the sale in June – and in the south it’s hot and humid all day and night. So it was pretty warm that morning. We grabbed bulk items from sam’s club; water bottles, sodas, granola bars, and chips. this was also the perfect way for us to get rid of the bags and boxes of candy in our house. We went through all of the candy, set out a huge bowl of it and priced it at $.10 each. It was gone at the end of the sale!

One additional tip for you that really helped get those items moving, about 3 hours into the sale (9am – we started early) we marked everything down to half-price. As if the prices weren’t low enough to begin with, items really started flying out the door. And we were ok with that! again, totally a personal decision, but if you want your stuff to go away…And still make a little money…lower the price at the mid-point of your sale!

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I have to agree with this statement….Donate all of it. If you were willing to part with it for a garage sale, why bring it back into your home again? Only to remain clutter until you have a sale years from now?

All of our remaining items were loaded up (immediately!) and dropped off at our local goodwill. Honestly, nothing felt better! For 5 years we had been storing items away under the house just waiting for the garage sale to happen. We couldn’t wait to get rid of everything :-).

Now that your garage sale is over and your remaining items have been donated, it’s time to count your cash and celebrate!!! We made about $1,000 at our sale making it worth the time and effort (and sweat) put into organizing everything. First thing I did was take a little of that hard earned money to get a extra-long pedicure. 🙂

I hope these garage sale tips are helpful if you’re planning your own sale this spring or summer.

Have a great Monday!

(I linked up with a bowl full of lemons)

comments +

  1. Izzy71 says:

    Thanks Sam, I needed this info!! Mike's organized a neighborhood garage sale during Labor Day weekend & I've got tons of stuff to sort thru so I can be ready! This served as a "kick in my pants" to not procrastinate & then end up scrambling come Thursday night! Hahahaha! I will definitely start today!! 😉

    • hey lady!!! how are you guys?

      wow! a neighborhood garage sale? i wish i could have gotten our neighbors more excited about the idea. friends, yes. neighbors, no. haha! so glad you're doing this!!! way to go mike!

      yes, there is a lot to get on top of before hand, but i swear your garage sale morning will be much smoother if you have everything organized before hand. 🙂 best of luck to you guys!!!!


  2. Kallie says:

    A rule of thumb I have heard about and use for pricing during a garage sale & even kids' consignment sales is to price approximately 1/4 of what the item cost new. Of course, some adjusting up or down is often necessary, but using the quarter rule does help as far as a place to start when pricing! Thanks for the tips – we are having a super big garage sale (in a much smaller garage!) this weekend in preparation for moving – so perfect timing!!

  3. sara says:

    This is so helpful – we have our community garage sale in a couple weeks! I'm emailing it to Brad 🙂

  4. Thanks, I now have the inspiration to have the garage sale I've been putting off for 7 years!

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