How to make the most money from garage sales

1. Be Organized

Too many garage sales are a haphazard collection of stuff. Don’t be afraid to use time-tested supermarket and department store promotion tricks. Organize similar items together so they catch the shopper’s attention. If you have a lot of a particular item, “buy 3, get 1 free” is a great option.

What should you sell? Just about anything that’s not precious enough to sell in an auction or consignment shop—including broken items—is fair game for garage sales.

“People often buy things for parts at garage sales, especially broken electronics,” says Lynda Hammond, author of “Garage Sale Gal’s Guide to Making Money Off Your Stuff. 

2. Don’t Put a Price on Anything

Figuring out what to charge is the most time-consuming and stressful part of garage sales, says Hammond. Ask buyers for their best offers; they will often name a price that’s higher than the one you would have suggested.

“I had a friend who wanted to get rid of a dining room table and chairs, and was going to put a $150 price tag on it before I convinced her not to,” says Hammond. “A man at her sale told her he only had $400 on him for the set; the lady having the sale was so flustered she talked the buyer down to $300.”

If people seem too shy to negotiate, then you can name a price. To get an idea of an appropriate valuation, go to Statricks.com. It aggregates pricing data from online auction sites such as eBay and classified sites such as Craigslist. You’ll find hundreds of thousands of used products, from small appliancesbicycles and cell phones to computersphoto and video equipment, and sporting goods.

3. Get the Word Out

You can place free classified ads on such websites as CraigslisteBay ClassifiedsGsalr.com, and YardSales.net. You’ll probably be able to specify the categories of items you’ll be selling, and in most cases post some photos. Also post information about your sale on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

“Do a 30- to 60-second video of the items,” says Andy Curry, a consultant on small-business marketing based in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Then put it on Facebook and ask all your friends to share it. On average, people have 350 friends on Facebook, and you can get a ton of free advertising doing that.”

Find a way to set your sale apart. J.D. Roth, founder of the personal finance website Get Rich Slowly, called one of his sales a “geek garage sale,” and emphasized that he had graphic novels, board games, and computer gear in a Craigslist ad. The crowds that turned out bought the geeky stuff, but they also bought kitchen gadgets, artwork, and clothing. His total earnings: over $2,400.

Make directional signs to attract people to your house from major routes. Hammond suggests using signs no bigger than 15×15 inches that simply say “Sale” and have an arrow pointing the way; Curry says bright yellow with black lettering works best. Have someone check the signs during your sale, if possible, to make sure they haven’t fallen down or aren’t covered by signs for competing sales.

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