Sure, there are lots of ways to get rid of your unwanted but still usable stuff. You could sell it online, haul it to a consignment shop…or maybe you’d just rather hold a garage or stoop sale and let people pay on the spot and walk away with their purchases.
No shipping, no schlepping, just a good old-fashioned transaction. You pick what you want to sell, you spruce it up, price it, publicize it, and then set up for your sale and staff it.
Whether you call it a “garage sale,” “yard sale,” or “tag sale,” you can boost the odds of success at an outdoor sale by following these tips and tactics.
1. Planning Your Garage Sale In Advance
Is it possible to pull together everything you need in a couple of days and hold a decent garage sale? Maybe. But your chances of success are likely to improve substantially if you put in some time planning your event.
Here are some things to consider ahead of time:
Knowing Your Goals
You’re probably hoping to make a profit and clear out some clutter. But knowing your top priority could help as you choose which items in your home you’re willing to part with and how you’ll price those goods.
Researching the Rules
Before you organize a sale, it’s a wise idea to check out how they’re handled in your community.
Some cities and counties require citizens who want to hold a garage sale to obtain a permit online or in person. There may or may not be a fee involved, but, either way, you could face a fine if a permit is required and you fail to get one.
There also may be limits on how early the sale can start, how late it can go, how many days it can last, the number of signs you can post, as well as the type of merchandise you can sell.
If you belong to a homeowners association (HOA), you might have to seek permission there as well. Some HOAs may allow only one or two neighborhood-wide sales a year (especially if you live in a community with a gate that would have to remain open all day).
Get up to $250 towards your holiday shopping.
Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $250 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!1
2. Setting Your Garage Sale Date
Once you know you’re able to have a sale, you can set a date and get the necessary permits.
Even if your schedule is pretty flexible, you may want to keep a few things in mind when you’re looking at your calendar:
• Consider choosing a day that falls just after a common payday (the first or the 15th of the month).
• You may want to avoid holding a sale on a holiday weekend, when many people will be away or have other plans.
• The most popular sale days are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays because most people are off from work. Keep in mind, though, that many families have activities or church on those days, so you may want to start early and end in the afternoon to attract the most shoppers. Or you could choose a weekday to avoid the weekend competition.
• You may want to hold a two-day sale and use the second day as an “everything must go” event.
• Mother Nature might not cooperate no matter when you hold your sale. Still, you can improve your chances of having better weather if you consider the season (not too hot, not too cold, not too rainy, not too windy) in your planning.
3. Stockpiling Garage Sale Items
A good strategy is to move through each room of your house (the attic, basement, garage, and sheds, too), and start boxing up items you might want to sell.
You might want to make a list of larger items you don’t want to move until you’re closer to the actual sale date, such as old furniture, artwork, or exercise equipment.
Kids who are reluctant to part with old toys, bikes, or sports equipment might be more willing if you offer to cut them in on the action. Consider negotiating a percentage of the profits, or offering to replace all the gently used toys they sell with one new one.
If you aren’t sure you have enough to grab shoppers’ interest on your own, you can ask friends and neighbors if they want to join in, or offer to sell their items on consignment.
4. Going All in With Publicity
It’s probably not the best idea to count on word of mouth to bring bargain hunters to your door. Consider advertising your garage sale at least a week in advance — and tempting shoppers with a list of desirable items.
Some places to consider publicizing your sale:
You may want to list your garage sale in the old-school print classifieds. You could see if your local newspaper charges a reasonable rate (and get a digital ad while you’re at it). You may want to keep the wording tight — you’ll likely pay more if you go over a pre-set maximum word count.
Many of these sites allow you to post a photo or photos with your ad, so it can help to have that ready, along with the wording you want to use.
Community Bulletin Boards
Some grocery stores, gyms, community centers and schools have bulletin boards where you can post a flyer. Consider making yours stand out with bold lettering, and including the sale date, hours, and address.
Signs for the Neighborhood
If signs are allowed in your area, consider putting out at least five or six on the day before the sale. You may want to make them easy to read from the road, with the address in bold print and an arrow pointing the way.
Also consider tying balloons and a big sign to your mailbox on sale day to make your home more visible.
💡 Quick Tip: If you’re saving for a short-term goal — whether it’s a vacation, a wedding, or the down payment on a house — consider opening a high-yield savings account. The higher APY that you’ll earn will help your money grow faster, but the funds stay liquid, so they are easy to access when you reach your goal.
5. Preparing What You’ll Need for the Sale
A week before the sale, you may want to start considering, and gathering, everything you’ll need. This may include:
It’s a smart idea to make sure you have as many folding tables as you’ll need to properly display your sale items, and enough chairs so you and your “staff” can sit comfortably. (It could be a long day.)
A payment station
You may want to set up a main payment station that’s easy for shoppers to get to when they’re ready to buy.
You could make or buy a box to hold the money you collect and for change. (It’s wise to start out with plenty of ones, fives, and quarters in case early shoppers show up with bigger bills.)
Or, you can wear a vendor apron with pockets for the money. You also may want to give family, friends and neighbors you know the option of using a P2P app to make their purchases.
Keeping some old boxes and plastic grocery store bags near the checkout table can be useful for customers who have a lot to carry home.
6. Setting Your Prices
One option is to set up a color-coded sticker system, with items grouped by cost. If you go that route, keep in mind that you’ll want to let those who are assisting at the sale know the code, as well as put up a sign for customers.
A simpler option might be to just tag most of the items individually with a roll of painter’s tape (which is typically easier to remove than masking tape). Larger signs can point out bundled prices, such as “5 CDs for $2” or “3 paperbacks for $1.”
It’s a good idea to remember your main goal when setting prices. If you want to get rid of everything, you may want to keep prices reasonably low.
To avoid cheating yourself, however, you may want to do some research ahead of time so you can get the best price for special items (antiques, collectibles, or anything that might be in high demand with garage sale regulars).
If possible, it’s wise to keep sentimentality from getting in the way of a solid sale.
Also, if several people will be working the sale, you may want to set ground rules for how low prices on certain items should go — and on haggling in general.
If someone offers a low price at the start of the day, and you think you can do better, you may want to exchange contact info, and agree to connect again later when the sale is over.
💡 Quick Tip: An emergency fund or rainy day fund is an important financial safety net. Aim to have at least three to six months’ worth of basic living expenses saved in case you get a major unexpected bill or lose income.
7. Making Your Garage Sale Appealing to Shoppers
You’ll likely want to give some thought to the presentation of your items. Organization can make the day go better for you and your customers. And a little extra effort could make a difference in how much you can get for your goods. Some ideas:
Cleaning Old Items
You can start washing, dusting, and polishing things as soon as you decide they’ll be included in your sale.
This might include Inflating balls and bicycle tires, putting light bulbs in lamps, and trying to have batteries and a power source available for customers who want to test an item before purchasing. (If something doesn’t work, it’s a good idea to mark it clearly.)
Arranging Things in a Way that Makes Sense
Consider making it as easy as possible for customers to find things using signs and a system.
For example, books, CDs, DVDs, and videogames could be grouped together. Toys, board games and puzzles might be another section.
You may want to place the biggest sale items out in front of the yard, if you can–both to attract attention, and so customers can get them to their cars without disturbing others.
If possible, hang clothing on a garment rack near hats, shoes, and purses, and set up a mirror close by.
If your sale goes well, you may have to rearrange your display several times during the day.
8. Being a Good Host
One way to keep garage sale shoppers from walking away without really looking is to make it fun to stick around.
Consider playing some energetic music and greeting customers as they arrive. You also may want to sell water, lemonade, and maybe even baked goods. (It can be nice to have snacks and beverages ready for helpers, too.)
You might also want to have some bottles of hand sanitizer available for customers to use.
If you know your neighbors, they may pop by for a chat. While you may want to be polite and chat, you may also want to remind them that you need to pay attention to your customers — and the money box.
9. Remembering Sale Day Safety
Early birds sometimes show up long before a garage sale is scheduled to start. The more you have ready ahead of time, the more you’ll be able to stay focused on keeping everything and everyone (people, pets, breakables, and the money you make) safe.
Here are some security tips:
Locking Your Doors
It’s wise to keep the doors to your home and your car locked, and to avoid letting strangers use your bathroom.
Getting a Sitter
A sitter can keep an eye on young children and pets so you don’t have to.
Stashing Excess Cash
As profits start to pile up, it’s a good idea to have a method for how you’ll transfer excess cash to a safe spot in your home. It’s also wise to avoid talking about how much you’ve made.
💡 Quick Tip: If you’re faced with debt and wondering which kind to pay off first, it can be smart to prioritize high-interest debt first. For many people, this means their credit card debt; rates have recently been climbing into the double-digit range, so try to eliminate that ASAP.
10. Having a Plan for Unsold Items
When your sale ends, you’ll likely have at least a few unsold items to deal with.
If your primary goal was to clear the clutter, you may want to donate those leftovers to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or some other nonprofit group that takes used goods. (If you itemize deductions, you may be able to include your donation on your tax return. Just be sure to keep a list of everything you gave and an estimate of the value.)
If the charitable organization you choose offers a pickup service, you may want to schedule the truck for the first available day after your sale. If not, you can arrange to drop off your items as soon as possible. (It’s a good idea to understand beforehand what the charity will and won’t accept.)
If you want to try to squeeze a little more money out of what’s left over — or there are some high-ticket items you aren’t willing to give away — you may want to move on to the online marketplace and sites like Offerup , Facebook Marketplace , Varage Sale , or Swap.com .
Consider taking the time to include a photo with anything you list online. At the very least, it could save you from having to answer a lot of questions about your item.
11. Making the Most of Your Garage Sale Profits
One of the perks of holding a garage sale vs. a virtual sale is that you’ll be holding your profits in your hands (mostly in cash) when you’re finished.
That also could be a problem, though, because it might be tempting to spend it. (And maybe even buy more stuff!)
Instead, consider planning ahead what you’d like to do with your profits. This may also help keep you motivated while you’re putting in the work to plan and host your sale. If you don’t have a specific plan, consider putting the money you earned towards an emergency fund.
Hosting a garage sale can be a great way to clear the clutter in your home and sell a large number of unwanted items all in one fell swoop.
A successful sale, however, requires some upfront work, as well a day (or two) or working the sale.
The process typically requires gathering and preparing your items, getting a permit, picking up sale supplies, advertising your event, and then setting everything up in an organized and appealing way early on the day of the sale.
The payoff? Newfound space in your home and (hopefully) a nice pile of cash you can take to the bank.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet..
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.