If you're moving, downsizing or just getting rid of clutter, running a garage sale is a great way to make money from all that stuff you wanted to trash or give away. Sellers need to know how to organize and run the sale, how to set up displays, and how to price items, not to mention how to advertise, how to negotiate with potential buyers and what to watch out for. And, if you're a buyer, you'll need to know when to go to a garage sale and how to negotiate a bargain price for whatever you buy. Here are ten tips to help make you a garage sale pro.

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

1. Get A Permit if Necessary
Many cities and local governments require permits to hold a garage or yard sale. So get the permit early, avoid problems later. (For more, see In A Cash Crunch? Hold A Yard Sale.)

2. Arranging Inventory for Easy Sales
Display clothing by size and season. Use a rack suitable for hangers, if available, and hang up the clothing for easy browsing and retrieval, with prices clearly marked. If you don't have access to a rack, fold the clothing neatly and display flat on a table. Be sure to wash all clothing before offering for sale, and iron if necessary. Arrange everything by category for easy visibility - household appliances, lamps, tools, books, furniture, dishes and other items.

Keep in mind, data shows that kids' clothing sells well at garage sales because kids keep growing. Among other goods easily sold are toys, household appliances, tools and bikes. Adult clothing and books do not sell well. (For related reading, see The Best And Worst Ways To Raise Cash Quickly.)

3. Bargain Prices Mean Success
Affordable pricing is the key to success. Before deciding on what to charge for your inventory, do some research in your neighborhood to see what other garage sale entrepreneurs are charging for similar items and price yours competitively. If you've got items with sentimental value that you'd like to price higher, they may sell for what you think they're worth. Withdraw the item or be prepared to sell it at a reduced price. As a general rule, experts advise pricing items at about 20% of original retail cost.

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate
No matter what the price of an item, don't rule out discounting it if a prospective buyer wants to negotiate. It's better to sell the item for 20-50% less than its original price than not to sell the item at all. Be open to negotiating, especially in the final hours of the sale. Experienced garages sale buyers will show up in the eleventh hour knowing that prices fall when the clock is ticking toward closing time. (For related reading, see How To Live Rich For A Lot Less.)

5. Bargain-Priced Tables
To move miscellaneous items with little value to you, but with potential value to others, set up bargain-priced tables. For example, a table clearly marked "Everything On This Table One Dollar," will attract lots of customer attention. Tables marked "Two For A Dollar" or "Buy One, Get One Free" will also draw interest. These are retailing efforts that have proven to be successful both in major national retail chains and at neighborhood garage sales.

6. Concerning Cash and Security
Have plenty of change available - bills and coins. And keep an eye on the money. You'll be dealing with lots of strangers and not all of them may be honest citizens. So keep the money on your person, in a deep pocket or fanny pack. A cash box can be snatched, even in a brief moment when you look away. Keep your doors locked and don't let anyone into the house.

7. It Pays To Advertise
Make hand-lettered signs announcing your garage sale and place them at strategic locations around your neighborhood. Best spots are on your front lawn, local supermarkets, corner lots, telephone poles and wherever else the signs would have high visibility. Be sure to get permission before posting a sign on private property. Check your local newspaper to see if they have garage sale announcement listings. Many newspapers provide this service, sometimes for free and sometimes for an affordable price. Broadcast and online media such as Craigslist.com may also offer opportunities to advertise your garage sale.

Don't neglect social media. Send an announcement to all your Facebook, Twitter and other friends. List your address, the times and dates of the sale, and list the general merchandise for sale and some particularly attractive and affordably priced item. For example: Clothing for adults and kids, household items, furniture and a like-new baby grand Steinway piano. (For related reading, see Social Networking Your Way To More Money.)

8. Where and When to Buy
To find out where the garage sales are in your neighborhood, check your local newspapers, Craigslist, and other online sources. Garage sale junkies and experts say the best time to buy is during the closing hours of the last day of the sale. Sellers are eager to get rid of their remaining inventory and are more likely to accept lowball price offers. So make an offer they can't refuse.

Go for the Deal, but Be Cautious
It's advisable not to buy mattresses, upholstered furniture and stuffed toys because they could be contaminated with insects and or potentially deadly bacteria. Wash all clothing thoroughly and use an antibacterial soap and or bleach to wash every item purchased.

Garage sales can be a great way to get rid of things you don't want, and get a bargain on things you do want. These tips will have you on your way to ruling the summer garage sale market. (For related reading, see 6 Things You Shouldn't Sell At A Garage Sale.)

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    10 Ways to Save Money at the Farmers' Market

    Strategic shopping can help your budget as well as your health.
  2. Savings

    6 Ways to Save Money on Back-to-School Stuff

    Those school-supply lists just keep getting longer each year. Here's how to shop smart.
  3. Home & Auto

    4 Areas to Consider Roofing Material Types

    Roofing your home is very important, that’s why you should choose a roof specifically designed to handle your area’s climate.
  4. Professionals

    10 Must-Follow Broker-Dealers on Social Media

    Stay in the financial markets 'know' by following these influential independent broker-dealers on social media.
  5. Investing

    Dick Costolo Biography

    Dick Costolo is a very polarizing man – half the world credits him with saving Twitter Inc. (TWTR) from its own popularity and making initial investors rich while the other half blames him for ...
  6. Insurance

    How to Shop for Home Insurance

    Tips for getting the best protection for your place and possessions.
  7. Personal Finance

    Sending Money: MoneyGram vs. Western Union

    Comparing the differences between the services – and the fees.
  8. Professionals

    Top Referral Tips for Financial Advisors

    A referral from a friend, colleague or industry expert can go a long way in getting more prospective clients to give you a call. Be proactive about it.
  9. Budgeting

    The 5 Most Expensive States for Child Care

    To get a better sense of how child care costs can fluctuate, here's a look at the costs of child care across the country.
  10. Home & Auto

    Looking To Invest In Home Improvements?

    Some home improvement projects could cost you more to complete than they’ll pay out in equity. So, here we show you the worst projects to avoid.
  1. Internal Rate Of Return - IRR

    A metric used in capital budgeting measuring the profitability ...
  2. Venture Capitalist

    An investor who either provides capital to startup ventures or ...
  3. Linked Transfer Account

    Accounts held by an individual at a financial institution that ...
  4. Pension Risk Transfer

    When a defined benefit pension provider offloads some or all ...
  5. Foreign remittance

  6. Debt Consolidation

    The act of combining several loans or liabilities into one loan. ...
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!