In my household, spring cleaning is synonymous with holding a spring garage sale. Growing up, I spent many a Friday and Saturday morning trucking along from one garage sale to another with my grandparents. “Garage Sale-ing,” as we called it (my husband argues that’s not a real term; what does he know?).
Holding a garage sale has benefits on many levels: clear out clutter, make some extra cash, help others find useful items at affordable prices and find new homes for items you no longer use. Make green, save green! If you’ve never held a garage sale of your own, here are 10 steps to take you from start to finish.
How to hold a garage sale
1. Pick a date. Choosing a date to hold your garage sale gives you a deadline, and therefore, the impetus to gather clear out your house. If you say, “I’ll do it sometime this spring,” you may never get around to it. Aim to have your items ready two full days before the morning of your sale. Need more accountability? Mark the date on the calendar, tell your spouse, email your family, friends, neighbors. Now you can’t back out.
2. Create a holding room. This is where you will pile your for-sale items until the day of your garage sale. Make sure it’s a place with adequate space and a place that you can temporarily make off-limits to children, pets and guests.
3. Clean out and collect. You probably have a few things in mind that you know you want to put in your garage sale. The tough part is deciding on the “maybes.” The quick and dirty rule of thumb is, if you haven’t used or worn something in the last 12 months, sell, donate, recycle or throw it away (the latter being the last resort).
Go through your house room by room, drawer by drawer, cabinet by cabinet. Use a laundry basket to collect your for-sale items. When the basket is full, empty it in your holding room.
If you’re having trouble deciding what to sell, follow Simple Mom’s advice and ask yourself these two questions:
- Is this item useful to us?
- Is this item beautiful to us?
If you can’t answer yes to one of those questions, the item goes in your sale. If you still need help, review the Top 10 Rules of Decluttering by Small Notebook.
4. Take out an ad. Placing an ad in your local paper is key to increasing foot traffic to your sale. Contact your local paper to learn their schedule for classified listings. Check out these tips on writing the perfect ad and when to place your ad.
5. Acquire a permit. Some cities require you to obtain a permit to hold a garage sale. Check out your city’s requirements by calling the local government offices or checking on their Website.
6. Create a “bank.” Seasoned garage sale shoppers know to bring small bills and change to a sale. Not everyone is a seasoned shopper. Prepare a bank with approximately 25 one dollar bills, 3 five dollar bills and a handful of quarters and silver change. Keep your bank close at hand during the sale. Bring back the 90s and wear a fanny pack (but only this one time, please).
7. Arrange for post-sale donation. Many charity organizations would be delighted to have your garage sale leftovers. Within 5 days of your sale, load your vehicle and drop off unsold items at a local charity or thrift store, or arrange for a pick up (some charities will come to your house). Whatever you do, don’t put anything back in your house!
8. Price your items. Price every item the night before your sale. You can purchase special stickers, but masking or painter’s tape works just fine. Price your items low. A garage sale isn’t a get-rich-scheme, so even if you paid $100 brand new for a winter coat, it may only bring $5 at a garage sale. The ultimate goal is to get rid of your unwanted items. Check out this tip sheet for garage sale pricing. If you have several small items worth $1, set up a $1 table or box and post a sign. Many garage sales I’ve been to even have a “FREE” box.
9. Set up your sale. Sort and set up as much as possible the night before your garage sale. Seasoned shoppers may arrive up to one hour before your posted start time, so you’re better off to pre-prep. If you have the space, set up a staging area. If you don’t have any card tables, make table tops from an old door, scrap wood or any flat, stable surface. Or, a bed sheet on the ground works just the same.
10. Get up early and put a smile on your face. As mentioned before, even if your sale is listed to start at 8 am, expect early birds. Give yourself enough time to set up and be ready to sell about 30 minutes before your sale officially begins. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to smile and be friendly with your shoppers. You’ll meet people from all walks of life at a garage sale, including some neighbors you may not know. Have fun with it!