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Garage Sale Tips: Bring In The Cash

Goodbye, lamp I still own from college. Adios, Pack’n Play! Hello, clean closets.

Did you know the average garage sale brings in $500? Not bad for a day’s work—plus, a tag sale is the perfect way to declutter and upcycle. Win-win!

That said, I bet you’re worried you’ll spend a perfectly good Saturday stuck on your front lawn and make ZERO dollars, so I’ve compiled some tips that will help you crush your yard sale, garage sale, estate sale, or whatever you want to call it.


Have sales fairly often—yearly or biannually—rather than saving up boxes and boxes of junk over the years. Clothing and home décor styles change quickly, so it’s good to get them out as fast as possible if you know you’re done with them. This is especially true for electronics: The older they are, the harder it will be to find them a good home. Might as well unload your first flat-screen TV or outdated Xbox while you still can.

Calling All Treasure Hunters!

You’ll want to advertise with big, easy-to-read signs. You can use neon poster board, or, try a design option like Canva. It has drag-and-drop design, 1 million stock images and clean graphics to play with. Save your awesome signage as a PNG image for use online and as a PDF to physically print in high resolution.

garage sale apps

Prior to the sale, post your sale’s details on the websites that veteran garage-salers frequent. These sites all offer free listings: Yard Sale (pictured), and Garage Sale Tracker. Another option,, costs $4.99 for a listing. And don’t forget Facebook (use “Find New Groups” to find a local garage sale group) and the old standby, Craigslist.

The Price is Right

You’d be surprised how many people will pick up a lamp and ask “How much?” even though you’ve put a price sticker on the bottom. Save yourself that step and clearly display the price stickers on top of the item. To determine a fair price, use an app like PriceGrabber (available for iPad, iPhone and Android) to see the going rate would be for a new version of the item you’re selling. [highlight] Reality Check: Price things about one-quarter to one-third of what a new one would cost [/highlight], depending on condition—and how desperate you are to get rid of it (if this dartboard doesn’t leave my property today I will set it on fire).

Garage Sale Tracker also has a handy guide of suggested prices. You can cross-reference prices on eBay, but remember that people are at garage sales because they want to score a really good deal—they may not be willing to pay the same price they would at an online auction site.


garage sale apps

Put out a portable speaker, like Jawbone’s Mini Jambox and play some relaxing music. A little jazz or 1920’s music puts people in the mood to buy vintage styles like a cute teapot, while some 1970s disco is ideal if you’re selling off a chrome kitchen table.

Use tablecloths to make things look more appealing, and group items by purpose: kitchen gadgets over here; musical instruments over there. Label each section with a large sign. Place a mirror by clothing, jewelry and accessories to encourage shoppers to see how they look. If it’s a hot day, a cooler with sodas and water is a thoughtful touch and might entice shoppers to stick around a little longer.

Money, Money, Money

Accept cash and credit cards, but not checks (too unreliable). Credit or debit cards are perfect if you’re selling bigger-ticket items, like a used laptop or furniture. Here are some ways to turn yourself into a mini retail pro:

Garage Sale Apps

The Flint app offers secure credit and debit card processing via your mobile phone; it doesn’t require any hardware. You can even send your customers a receipt via email. It’s free to download the app, then the service charges a small transaction fee: 1.95% for debit and 2.95% for credit cards. It’s available for iPhone and Android. Square (pictured) is another option. The card scanner (it plugs into your phone) and account are free, and you’ll pay a 2.75% transaction fee for credit cards. PayPal Here is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows devices; you download the app and use the provided card reader to accept debit or credit cards. PayPal offers live customer support, and the transaction fee is 2.7%.

For cash deals, you’ll want to start off the day by having about $50 in change ready, in small bills and even quarters.

I hate to say this, but garage sales are notorious for attracting schemers. So, have a wingman who can help during the sale by sitting with the cash box and keeping an eye on electronics. And keep your home locked while you are outside.

Presale Prep

— Permit? Check with your town or neighborhood association for any restrictions on yard sales or signage.
— Hoard. Plastic and paper tote bags, bubble wrap, newspapers and sturdy boxes (so if people want to buy it all, they can carry it out!).
— Collect. Start setting aside the stuff you’re going to sell. Trash into cash, baby!
— Hunt. If you’re selling electronics, dig out the manuals and attach them to the device with a rubber band.
— Park. On the day of the sale, move your car(s) out of your driveway, so your customers have plenty of parking spaces.
— Power. Run an extension cord out so that people can test the electronics. Make sure anything battery powered has batteries in them.
Wasn’t that fun? The haggling is over, your tables are empty. Now all that’s left is to take down the signs, count your cash, and enjoy that extra space you’ve created in your life.

Planning a garage sale this season? I want to hear all about it. 

Image borrowed from Houzz

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