How to Make More Money during a Garage Sale
Selling unwanted items at a garage sale is the perfect way to get rid of some unused items in your home for some extra fast cash. If you want to make more money during a garage sale, there are some things you can do. Whether you need money to pay bills or want to kick start your emergency fund, a garage sale can be a good way to do it.
Make More Money by Preparing for Your Garage Sale
If you want to make more money at your garage sale, getting it ready will take some prep work and patience. The profits are worth the process.
Do a Quick Spring Clean
Set aside some time to skim through the entire house. Look in closets, under beds, and open every drawer. This is especially important for junk zones where stuff can disappear to. Be on the lookout for anything you never use and may have forgotten you even own.
Keep a Box Handy
Once you have taken a look everywhere in your house, put everything in a box marked “Garage Sale.” Add to it as you go through the home. Go through the items before you place them in the box. It can be easy to forget about a $20 bill that was slipped into a jacket pocket.
Consider a Multi-Family Sale
Ask family, friends, and neighbors to join you in a multiple family garage sale. Buyers love larger yard sales since they are more likely to find what they are searching for. More foot traffic could mean more money for you as well.
Pick the Right Location
One of the best tips is to have the right location. A good location is easy to find and has plenty of parking along with plenty of space to display your goods. If you live on a busy street with no parking, consider having the sale at a friend’s or family member’s house.
Clean Up Items
If you are selling a large item, such as a dining table, then clean it up a little bit to make it look ready to use. Wipe away any dirt or dust. If people are more impressed with a well-kept item then they are likely to pay more money for it.
Pay Attention to the Weather
As best you can, plan for a weekend of clear skies before setting up the sale. If you know bad weather is coming in the days leading up to your sale then cancel. Take down the ad and plan for a different weekend. Bad weather can also come out of nowhere so you should have plans if you are going to be in an uncovered area. Move into the garage if there is access to one or have tarps on hand to cover up the items.
Find some new ways of advertising, such as Craigslist, Facebook, or your neighborhood association page. You can also go ahead with the old fashioned ways of advertising with posting signs around the area. The more you are able to get the word out, the more people will stop to shop. Even if you do advertise online, you still want to make sure you are adding some signs to direct people to your location. Bigger isn’t better since bigger ones can flap in the wind and be hard to see. Signs also fall down so enlist a friend to check your signs a few times throughout the day.
Decide Whether or Not to Price
There are some that believe you should price out items and some that say you shouldn’t. If you decide to price, determine which items are more common and which ones could go for more. Know that most paperback books and tiny kids toys will just be about 50 cents. For bigger items, decide the minimum amount you will take. Price the items with some room to negotiate. When it doubt, be sure to ask yourself what you will be willing to pay and use that as your guide for pricing. People say to price because the buyer doesn’t want to ask. It helps to keep your prices in increments of 5s and 10s to make giving change easier.
On the flip side, if you let the buyer name the price, you could be getting way more than you thought you could. If the buyer names the price and it’s not something you had in mind then you can say no. Pricing items can be tedious and time-consuming and you could be spending your time on different things. Pricing can make people procrastinate. You will be more likely to hold a garage sale and make more money if you can load everything out and set up your shop. Even if you put stickers on everything, some people can switch the sticker and trick you into selling an item for less.
Your garage sale should be organized in order to make it easier for people to shop. Treat it like a pop-up shop. Think about how you can best group items that are similar and leave plenty of room to walk around. Make sure you are visible so people can get their questions answered and you can make the sale.
Consider Friday for Your Sale
You may think that the weekends are the best for sales since most people aren’t working on the weekends. However, serious buyers start to hit sales on Fridays. People will be less likely to start negotiating with you on a Friday since they know you have the whole weekend to sell your items. There is less competition on Friday but on a Saturday there may already be five different garage sales in your area. Just because it’s a Friday doesn’t mean people won’t stop either. People are likely to stop after dropping kids off at school and on the way home from work.
Make More Money the Day of the Garage Sale
Now that you have done the groundwork and set up your sale, it’s time to hit the ground running and start making more money.
Start the Sale on Time
Garage sale pros will start searching with the sun. Be ready for serious shoppers by being outside and set up with your items about ten minutes before your advertised start time.
Have Help Ready
Remove lingering doubts about large purchases by providing someone strong who can help with the heavy lifting. Keep bags nearby for those with smaller items.
Offer Light Refreshments
If you have cookies and lemonade, it not only gives your kids a job but it can bring the customers closer to your items. It can also encourage conversation, which can help with the sale. It gives customers a reason to stroll a bit longer and hopefully buy more.
Accept Multiple Forms of Payment
Paying with cash is the classic way so you want to keep change on hand. However, you can also be ready for every potential buyer if you will accept PayPal payments or Square Cash.
Reorganize As the Day Goes On
Some shoppers will buy a lot of items but leave a mess during the process. You need to clean up as the day moves on. Hang up any clothing that fell, move furniture around, and rearrange books to make it look like a full yard.
Having your items on tables can increase your sales and allow you to make more money. This is because items are easy to see and look at. Put the most expensive items on the table, unless they won’t fit. Also, put décor and breakable items on the table.
If there are similar items, sell them together. A person may not want to buy a whole set of weights but they will if you throw in a yoga mat or a DVD. If you notice a customer is holding a bunch of items, even if they aren’t similar, offer a discount if they purchase everything.
Garage sales are a way to test out your bargaining skills. You may have a lot of bargaining experience as a buyer but not as a seller. Be firm but still be kind if a price dips below what you want to take. Consider options for selling the item elsewhere if you can.
Think about Security
Keep your home locked during the sale and keep money and a phone with you. Unfortunately, there are some bad people in the world and those who tote counterfeit bills can end up at garage sales. You can turn down payments with large bills to feel safe.
Lower Prices toward the End
If it’s the afternoon time and the crowds are beginning to slow down then you may want to lower your prices. You can cross off the prices you already have listed or put up a sign that says ½ off. This is especially good for items you plan to donate if they don’t sell because this way you would still make some extra money.
What to Do after Your Garage Sale
If the garage sale is over and you still have some items for sale, you can still make more money on these items with some creativity.
Think about selling your items online. If you are still left with items you think you can sell, move the sale online. Online stores such as eBay, Craigslist, Poshmark, or the local group on Facebook can be a good place to sell some items that still have value.
Visit the local consignment shop. Take clothes and accessories to a consignment shop and, if you can, choose to get the cash upfront.
Once you have your hard-earned cash, be sure to give it a good home. Sit down with your family to talk about how you will use the money. You can incorporate it into your monthly budget or you can add it to your savings account.
Items That Sell at Garage Sale
While you can sell anything at a garage sale, it helps to know which items can be easily sold in order to make more money.
Clothing in Good Condition:
Everyone needs new clothes at some point and the savviest shoppers know they won’t have to pay full retail to get the best looks. In order to make more money selling clothes, hang up clothes on a rack instead of having them folded in a box or on a table. This makes it easier for people to search through and spot any stains or tears. If it’s kids clothing, you can fold it up but it helps to have the sizes sorted.
It’s not just power tools that will sell well but also older vintage ones that are fun to display and are still useful. When you are selling power tools, it helps to have a power strip nearby so customers can test them.
Furniture will go fast, especially if you live in or near a college town. With DIY projects becoming even more popular, many people are looking for furniture items that can be remade. Bookshelves will usually sell since these can be used for storage.
You may have vintage dishes hidden away in your cupboards without even realizing it. When you are selling these items, advertise the brand name since this will mean you will have more collectors check out your sale.
Depending on when your garage sale is, people could be really looking for garden tools. If you have an old lawn mower for sale, you will need to be prepared to start it up or be honest about why it’s not working. Those who are handy may take their chances with one if they know what’s wrong with it.
Handbags and Shoes:
Shoes in good condition, especially if they are brand name, will sell. Kids grow out of shoes so fast that sometimes size doesn’t matter. When selling old purses and shoes, make sure they are clean and odor-free. Showcase any designer brands in your advertising.
Find a rack to hang the necklaces and keep the costume jewelry close to the register so someone doesn’t walk off with it.
Vintage games are popular at the moment so these items can be easy to sell. If you are selling games then make sure you have all the game pieces.
Books are easy to sell if they are cheap. Price accordingly to make sure you can get rid of books you don’t want anymore.
Small kitchen appliances can be easily unloaded at a garage sale. Have a power strip nearby so customers can test out the appliances.
Purchasing new camping gear can get expensive so people want to find used gear in decent condition that may only have gotten used a few times a year.
Specify what you have and put pictures in your ad. Basic equipment, such as free weights, can move pretty quickly but it can be more difficult to sell exercise bikes or treadmills depending on how you price them.
When and Where to Have Your Garage Sale to Make More Money
The best time to hold a garage sale by conventional wisdom is during the spring. Shoppers have been missing their garage sale fix throughout the winter and want to find some great bargains. Summer can also be a good time but you have to make sure to do it on a weekend that won’t be too hot. People won’t browse long or come out if the sun is beaming down. There could be less competition for your garage sale if you hold it at the end of summer or fall.
If you have small items then you can have a short time in the morning from 7 to 11 or 9 to 12. You can also have three to four hours in the afternoon. This will allow you to sleep in and have less competition. This afternoon time will usually only work if you can keep the location of the sale hidden until the actual start time.
Otherwise, you can have people knocking on your door in the morning. If you do want to start late, be sure to highlight the late start time in your advertisement so people who do come to your sale don’t think all the good stuff has been sold during the morning. If you have a lot of items to sell then an all-day sale may be a better option in order to sell as much as you can and find as many casual buyers driving past during the day. A big group sale can also go over the course of two to three days, although this would require some careful planning.
Check with your neighbors
It’s a good idea to check with your neighbors before hosting a garage sale. Find out if they are planning a big party for the same time where parking can be an issue. Neighbors may even want to join in on the sale to make it larger and can have tables that they can lend you. You are more likely to attract more buyers if there is more than one sale going on. The neighbor’s children may want to get in on the action and help with your refreshments.
No place for your garage sale, what to do?
If you don’t have a suitable space for your garage sale then you may need to consider other places. Just because it’s called a garage sale it doesn’t mean it needs to necessarily take place in your garage. You can use your driveway, front porch, yard, or footpath. You may also use your neighbor’s garage or a friend’s. If you are able to hold your garage sale in a more affluent neighborhood, this can be beneficial and help you make more money.
Generally, there are better items that are found at garage sales in more affluent areas, which means buyers are prepared to pay more if you have newer items. If you are going to hold two garage sales a year, such as one at the beginning in the spring and another at the end of summer to sell whatever is left over, have the second sale in another suburb. It can be more work to haul your stuff but you will find different customers that could help you make more money.
Did you consider the local flea market?
You may benefit from holding your own sale at the local flea market. The flea market means you are guaranteed to have more customers and flea market customers generally expect to pay more. Having the sale at a flea market may mean you pay just as much as you would to have the sale at your home when you factor in advertising costs and signage. The only downside to this is you will have limited space and you will need to find a way to transport your merchandise there.
Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Garage Sale
If you want to make more money during your garage sale, you need to avoid some of these common mistakes.
Do what you can to get the word out and let customers know what you are going to be selling.
Lack of Items:
Avoid having a garage sale if you only have a few items. If you can’t avoid a smaller sale, work with your neighbors to create a neighborhood-wide sale.
Signs should be clear and easy to spot. Opt for arrows instead of a lot of text.
Price your items in order to sell them and know that you likely won’t get rich off of your garage sale.
Letting Your Pets Out:
Pets can be distracting at a garage sale and, with so many people, it can be dangerous for your pets.
Organization is key if you want to move your merchandise. Separate clothing and mark sizes.
Not Having Change:
Have enough small bills in order to make change so you can move more items. If you feel like you don’t have enough, just go pick some up at your nearest bank.
Taxes at Garage Sales
Garage sale profits can be divided into three categories: the casual, the hobbyist, and the business. If you are a casual seller just trying to make some fast cash then you aren’t looking to make a profit. However, the hobbyist or business seller could be more intentional about making a profit. When having a garage sale, you are selling items you have already purchased and have already paid the taxes on. Usually, the items are sold at a loss so there isn’t a capital gain. However, you aren’t able to claim the loss on your tax return and you can’t deduct the cost of holding the garage sale.
Hobbyists or business sellers have the intention to make a profit so they have different tax regulations.
Whether your state wants you to collect sales tax will depend on each individual state. Most states are likely not going to go out of their way to get sales tax from you for a once-a-year garage sale but you should check with your state’s taxing authority to be sure.
The cost of a permit can be pretty inexpensive but if you do need one and you don’t have it, the fines can wipe out whatever profits you make from your sale. Business owners in many cities do need to get a business license and some localities include garage sales as businesses. Whether or not you are required to have a permit will depend on your location. For example, garage sales in Oklahoma City need a permit. If you don’t need a permit, your city or town may regulate the placement of garage sale signs.
What to Do to Make More Money instead of a Garage Sale
If you aren’t able to have a garage sale, there are still ways that you can make more money on your items. There are a number of niche selling sites online that will allow you to sell your stuff. For DVDs, video games, and CDs, try Decluttr. You can sell almost anything on Let go, which is an app that lets you snap a photo and upload the item in about 20 seconds. You may be able to find a local gold buyer in order to sell old jewelry. There are also plenty of places where you can sell your used clothes online. Online consignments stores work similarly to brick-and-mortar stores. If you are handy, you can up cycle your furniture and then sell it for more.
Selling unwanted items is one of the best ways to get some extra money you could use to pay bills or kickstart a savings account. In order to make more money at your garage sale, you do need to do some preparation work. Figuring out the best time to have your sale will be beneficial along with advertising. There are some items that sell better at a garage sale so if you have these items, be sure to include them in your advertising.
During your garage sale, keep things organized and work on negotiating skills with your prices. After your sale, in order to make more money, you can sell unwanted items online at different consignment stores. You can also do this in place of a garage sale if you don’t want the hassle of organizing a sale.
Kevin Strauss is a personal finance writer and homeowner based in the Los Angeles area. Being in one of the most expensive markets in the country, he’s learned to maximize resources to plan for both his monthly expenses and future financial needs. Kevin has a passion for helping those in a similar situation navigate the complex world of personal finance so they can pay down debt, plan for the future and live out their dreams. In addition to covering personal finance in depth on Loanry.com and Cashry.com, Kevin shares his expertise with readers who want to create budget-friendly habits across the web.