Host a Garage Sale That Sells

Your closets are overflowing. Your garage looks like a storage unit. Why not clean out the house this fall and make a little extra cash by hosting a garage sale? Try these simple strategies for putting together a yard sale that sells.

1. Advertise outside, in print and online.

You wouldn’t open a store without letting your potential customers know about it. Garage sales are no different. “The more people you can get to your sale, the better it’s going to be, so it’s in your best interest to advertise,” says Chris Heiska, founder of YardSaleQueen.com. If newspaper ads are still largely utilized in your area, you might want to take an ad out in the local daily paper.

But you should definitely advertise online too, says Heiska. Her recommendation: Craigslist. It’s easy and it’s free, and you can take it down when you’re done. Post your ad two to three days ahead of time. According to Heiska, yard sale-goers tend to be early birds. If you post it the day of, no one will see it. In addition, post large, easy-to-read signs on busy streets closest to your house.

2. Show off your best goods.

Don’t put all of your best items in the back of your yard. Bargain hunters usually scope out the goods with a drive-by before deciding to stop, says Heiska. “If people are driving by and all they see are high chairs and stuffed animals, they might pass it, thinking they don’t need baby stuff. But if they see housewares, sporting goods and furniture, they’ll know there’s a wide variety to choose from.”

3. Set prices.

You don’t have to put a price sticker on every last item you’re selling, but there should be a clearly marked sign that designates what everything costs, warns Heiska. Family members may have different ideas about what they want to charge for things, and could upset customers who feel like the prices aren’t fixed. Many garage sale attendees like to pay as little as they have to -- if you leave it up to them to determine a price, they may lowball you. Others are hesitant to ask what you want for something -- they may assume you want more than they’re willing to pay and bypass the item completely, points out Heiska.

4. Stock up on change.

Make a trip to the bank the day before your yard sale, so that you have enough money to make change. Heiska normally starts with a minimum of $100 in quarters, fives, tens and ones. Of course, if you’re selling a lot of big-ticket items, you may find you need more than that. Instead of putting your money into a box that may get left unattended, Heiska recommends wearing a carpenter’s apron, so you always have the money on you.

5. Be punctual.

One of Heiska’s personal pet peeves is a yard sale that hasn’t been well-planned. People don’t take into account how long it takes to set up, so guests arrive and not everything is out. Give yourself a couple of hours to set up, and make sure you have people there to help you, she says. In addition, group all like items together. “If you have a well-organized, clean yard sale, you’ll do better than one that isn’t organized and displayed nicely,” she says.