9 Tips for Hosting a Great Garage Sale

August 10, 2021
Gregory Paul Silber
When done right, garage sales and yard sales can be an exciting event for the whole neighborhood and beyond – after all, a good garage sale can attract thrifters from several towns over, while engaging your local community. 

When done right, garage sales and yard sales can be an exciting event for the whole neighborhood and beyond – after all, a good garage sale can attract thrifters from several towns over, while engaging your local community. 

Whether you’re preparing to move, looking to make a few bucks off of the excess odds and ends in your home, or just trying to create a fun community event, here are some tips to make your garage sale fun, pleasant, and profitable.

Plan ahead

While many folks show up to garage sales on impulse, that doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to prepare. There’s a lot to consider, such as creating an attractive display, ensuring there’s plenty of parking space (you may have to talk to your neighbors for help here), and advertising your yard sale both physically through flyers and online. The Howl app is one great way to advertise your garage sale in your Town and Street groups, so don’t be shy!

Don’t underestimate the importance of cleaning your items for sale, either. You wouldn’t want to buy anything dusty or dirty, right?

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Strong, highly-visible signs are an absolute must for getting the word out. Make sure they clearly state the exact time, date, and location of your sale, and maybe mention a few highlights for sale, such as furniture or high-powered tools and electronics. Use sturdy, high quality material like waterproof markers to ensure your signs withstand the rain and other elements.

The locations of your signs are important too. Strategize sign placement according to where they’re most likely to be seen, while considering your town’s laws and regulations. Don’t put signs anywhere they might be taken down, or put you at risk of fines or other legal ramifications.

Teamwork makes the dream work

If you can arrange a multi-family garage sale, there’s strength in numbers. Potential buyers are more likely to respond to a neighborhood or community garage sale that’s advertised as such than one hosted by a single household. It’s simple: the more people who’ve banded together to unload their old junk, the more cool stuff there might be to buy!

If you go this route, just make sure you plan in advance. Start asking your neighbors well ahead of time if they’d like to join forces, and don’t go in without a profit-sharing plan. You wouldn’t want to have any arguments about who’s owed what.

Be ready to bargain

Whether you want to bargain or not, many people go into garage sales expecting to haggle, so you’re better off learning how to hold your own in those conversations. At the same time, don’t mark up your prices just because you expect customers to haggle. If your prices are too high, most customers will lose interest before bothering to haggle anyway.

You want to make a profit, but remember that the reason why you’re holding a garage sale in the first place is because you have a lot of clutter in your home that you want to get rid of; you wouldn’t be selling these things if you intended on keeping them. As you’re haggling, keep a “floor” in your head that you don’t want the price to dip under. Don’t be afraid to be firm if you think a customer is going unreasonably low, especially for relatively valuable items. But if there doesn’t seem to be interest elsewhere, and the day is winding down, there’s no shame in gradually becoming more willing to take what you can get.

Safety first

Even if your yard sale takes place entirely outside, you’re still making your home vulnerable to strangers. Keep plenty of water available for anyone who wants it so they don’t have to come inside for a drink. You may even want to consider not allowing anyone to come into your bathroom, as shady characters may see that as an opportunity. If you’re asked why, you could always just chalk it up to health concerns. Either way, it goes without saying that you should keep a watchful eye on your cash.

Some garage sale enthusiasts like to show up early in the morning, even a few days early, for a sneak peak. Needless to say, you’re under no obligation to let anyone into your home (including your front yard) until you’re ready. If you’re comfortable previewing your wares to the early birds, that’s your call, but you have every right to insist they wait until the scheduled opening. Personal safety and home security comes first.

As a general rule, don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something that makes you uncomfortable. Just because you’re temporarily welcoming strangers onto your property doesn’t mean you have to go along with unusual demands. It’s your home. You don’t have to welcome anyone into it who makes you question your personal safety.

Go the extra mile

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Putting batteries in the applicable toys for sale could mean a world of difference to bored kids who got dragged in by their parents. Offering bags to customers makes it easier for them to buy multiple things.

Tarps are especially great investments. Not only do they keep you and your customers happy and dry in the event of unexpected rain, but crucially, they protect your belongings. That way, even if you have to do a rain check, you still have stuff to sell!

On that same token, consider making your garage sale a multi-day event, even if that just means hosting it for the entire weekend rather than just Saturday or Sunday. Not only does that give you more opportunities for sales, but it gives you wiggle room in case you get rained out or otherwise forced to unexpectedly close up shop.

Get the kids involved

Garage sales can be a lot of work for the whole family, but they’ll be a better experience for kids if they can have fun while still feeling like they’re contributing. Assign kids tasks that are manageable according to their ages and personalities. For example, lemonade stands or bake sales are great for little ones, not to mention all the adults coming by who would love to buy soft drinks from cute kids. It’s also a low-stakes way to teach kids about sales, while keeping your guests refreshed. You might be surprised by how much of a profit your kids can pull in!

If your children are toddlers or younger, you may be better off keeping them away from the garage sale by having them spend the day with a relative or babysitter. Small children can become attached to unexpected items and make a scene when they notice someone taking something away their parents never realized they cared about in the first place. Avoid potential drama by removing them from the equation, if you have the means.

Make it fun

Garage sales are about more than business transactions. For the sake of your family and your community, adding a little fun goes a long way. Play upbeat music for a lively, entertaining atmosphere. You could also offer food in addition to drinks –– maybe even fire up the grill if you have someone who can attend to it. Don’t forget to keep your family and whoever else is working at your garage sale fed, hydrated, and happy, although there’s no reason why you can’t sell food while you’re at it too.

It’s crucial to go into a garage sale with a positive attitude. Yes, you should try your best to make a decent profit, and hopefully you will. But perhaps more importantly, you’re creating a helpful community event and having valuable interactions with your neighbors, all while finally unloading the unwanted junk that would otherwise collect dust in your home onto people who could actually make use of it.

And of course, a successful garage sale is always a case of “the more, the merrier.” Howl makes it easy to bring your neighbors along for the ride. Post your upcoming garage sale on the Howl app in your Town Group or Street Group so all of your community members are aware!