New Year Organization | How to Host a Garage Sale

So you're cleaning out at home, and you're racking up a decent pile of stuff to get rid of. Donating is always a good option, but if you've got enough stuff, why not try to make a little extra money from it?

Image: Red Oak, TX

Coming from a garage-sale childhood, I can attest that they are both awesome and horrible at the same time. We held one every few years and it was always very successful, and we'd compete to see who sold the most stuff. At the same time, I have great memories of going garage-saling with my mother. We would plan our route when the weekly classified paper would come out, then load up in the truck and make our morning trip. We found so many treasures on those trips, from clothes to household goods to furniture, and I'm sure it had some impact on my future as your favorite crazy treehugging blogger.


  • Cleans out the house.
  • Recycling your goods instead of throwing them out.
  • Money in ya pocket!


  • The planning.

As a child and teenager, there's nothing worse than getting up at 5am on a Saturday. As an adult, I might be able to tolerate it a little more. The pros outweigh the cons here, especially when it comes to some $$$.

Now, I have been living with my fiance for almost two years now, and for those two years, we have talked about having our own garage sale. It's a common story for many couples: move in together, combine things from two separate apartments, and have a lot of duplicates.

And now, for what I'm kind of embarrassed to admit: we still haven't had that garage sale. We still have most of that extra stuff in storage. But this is the year. (Yes, wedding year, but that's not what I mean right now.) This is the year we have that garage sale. And you can thank my mother for prodding us along, basically by saying she and my dad were going to have their own. And we said, "That's a great idea! We'll bring our stuff over to sell!"

#Adulting: Mooching off your parents' garage sale because you haven't gotten around to having your own.

I Want to Have a Garage Sale. What Do I Do?

  • Start collecting your items. Go through all closets: clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, purses, outerwear. Go through the kitchen and dining room. Go through your bathroom (hey, why not sell those hotel bottles of shampoo you took but never use?) Go through kids' toys. Go through your movie and CD collections. Go through the holiday decorations. Drink some wine while you do all this, because it's tedious.
  • Pick a date and force yourself to stick to it. Give yourself enough time to collect all your items. Two months out is pretty ideal. One month is pretty rushed. Four or more months, and you'll probably talk yourself out of doing it. Consider holidays and typical weather for the time of year you're interested in.
  • Begin pricing your items and keeping an inventory list. There are a few ways to price: Use blank labels from an office supply store and write your prices in, use preprinted price stickers, or just make signs to hang above your groups (All Tops $2, All Shoes $5, etc.) While this might seem like the easiest way, it can get a little hectic on the morning of your sale, when someone comes up with a massive pile of stuff and you have to remember what each price is, because it's not labeled. I prefer stickers so I can clearly see what I priced something.
  • Find tables/racks for your goods. You'll need something to lay your items out on. If you use folding tables or your patio table, you may want to mark it "Not for Sale", because someone will probably try to buy them. If you're selling furniture, use it to hold smaller items. Rolling wardrobe racks are great for hanging clothes. If you can't find or borrow those, use some rope tied to anchors or between carport columns. Ask around to see who might have tables you can borrow.
  • Start publicizing your sale. Your newspaper's classified section is still a great place to advertise your garage sale, because you'll be included with other sales, and people can plan out their itinerary. Plan to advertise about two weeks in advance, and the week of your sale. In today's age, it's common to share everything on Facebook, but by advertising your garage sale online, even just by sharing a status, you are sharing your address with the world. Don't sacrifice your privacy or safety!
  • Get money to use for change. I asked my mom for guidance on this one, but she says she can never remember the best combination of bills to get. You'll want a few hundred dollars' worth of change to cover yourself. Stick with more smaller bills ($1, $5, $10) and just have a few larger bills ($20). Don't forget to note how much cash you're starting with, because you'll need to subtract it from your sale revenue to figure out your profit.
  • Stock on up plastic shopping bags. It kills me to even say this, but when you're planning a garage sale, choose plastic bags at the store, so you'll have enough on hand to use for your shoppers. Or, just ask friends and family for their spare plastic bags. (If you're a garage sale shopper, bring your cloth bags!)
  • Ask friends or family for assistance. You might need a few sales associates to work the floor. Offer them a portion of the profits or free lunch and beer.
  • Get your items ready. If you have an enclosed garage, you can put all your items out on display the night before. If you have an open driveway, keep your items right inside the house for security, and just carry everything out the morning of.
  • Go to bed early! 4:00 on a Saturday morning is early AF.

The morning of your garage sale, get up early, make some coffee, and maybe send someone to pick up donuts (garage sale-day Meche's donuts are the best Meche's donuts!) If you advertised your garage sale to start at 6 a.m., expect people to show up ridiculously early - like 5 a.m. You can turn them away, or let them have first pick. Most times it's flea market owners or antiquers looking for the best selection.

Your garage sale may get pretty busy, so just stay calm! Negotiate with shoppers and keep an eye on everything so that someone doesn't walk away with a 100% discount.

By around 11:00 or noon, shoppers will wind down and it's time for you to close up shop! Box up whatever's left and save it for a donation. Count up your profits and take a nap. You've just completed your own garage sale!

Have you held a garage sale before? How was your experience??

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