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Are Garage Sales Worth It?


Does the thought of holding a garage sale give you goosebumps or cause you to break out into a cold sweat?

Garage sales were an annual event during my childhood. My mom actually thought they were fun and would select household items throughout the year to set aside for the summer sale.

Last summer, I was recruited, by my sister, to help set up and run her garage/moving sale. She worked her tail off to prepare for the sale: sorting, moving, pricing items, and placing advertisements. Once dad and I arrived, the day before the sale, we helped her drag it all into her garage and finish pricing it. Did I mention that it was a very hot and humid weekend?

Her sale was eventually nicely organized:) and her garage was immaculate!

We were ready so we planted ourselves in the shade and waited for carloads of eager shoppers, who wanted to buy her stuff for the asking price.  I’ve always had high hopes and expectations for garage sales I’ve participated in.

After approximately an hour…..we had our first looker. Then we had a few more lookers and a rare buyer. I started to loose hope and my expectations were lowered to the “let’s just get rid of this stuff” level.  I did not want to load all this stuff up and haul it to a charity, we had to get rid of it STAT!

With my sister’s permission I began reducing prices and slipping more items into the boxes labeled “FREE.” I went so far as waving down cars.

It worked! We had a rush of shoppers  people looking for free things.

When we decided to call it quits, my sister was ahead approximately $200 and had one carload of leftover items she immediately delivered to a charity shop.

Our secret —give things away to anyone that passes by during the last hour.

Was it worth it?

In my sister’s opinion, YES, IF you are moving. She said she would not have gotten rid of that much stuff otherwise.

In my opinion, NO. It would have been waaaay easier to donate it all!

Here are my garage sale tips to help you profit from your efforts and make it worthwhile.

1. First and foremost, do you enjoy hosting garage sales? Think about it. Only do it if you are ready to work hard.

2. Do you have plenty of big ticket items? Large pieces will draw a crowd and turn a drive-by lookie-loo into a get-out-of-the-car-and-BUY-stuff.

3. How will you get the word out about your sale? Does your neighborhood have an annual garage sale? If so, they usually coordinate advertising (for a small fee) and the event will draw more traffic. If you are on your own, where do you plan on advertising? Craigslist, Facebook, classifieds, community bulletin boards, and street signs are all good options. Flags, streamers, balloons and other eye-catching yard decorations will bring attention to your sale and make it stand out.

4. Price everything and organize it on tables according to category of use. For example, tools on one table and kitchen items on another.  Hopefully your friends and family will let you borrow folding tables.

5. You’re gonna need change. Stock a cash box or a waist/fanny pack with $1’s, $5’s and quarters. Put someone in charge of the cash box at all times.

6. Determine the amount of time you want to devote to running a sale: one day, two days, morning only or all day? Most of your traffic will occur early on the first day of your sale.  In fact, I’m a huge fan of the one-day only garage sale, 8:00-1:00 p.m.

7.  Tidy your garage. A rainy day could mean you have to move the sale indoors. Remove or cover your garage items (with tarps or sheets) you don’t want to sell.

8. Have bags on hand for shoppers purchases.

9. Lastly and most importantly, what is your plan for the items you have left? Do not bring them back into your home. Immediately load them into your car or arrange ahead of time for a charity to pick them up a.s.a.p.

Tell me about garage sales you’ve held. Were they worth it? Is it an annual event you look forward to?

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