Lessons From A Garage Sale Survivor

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If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in your life, you may want to give some thought to having a garage sale.  Whether you call it a yard sale, tag sale or estate sale, they are all basically the same thing.  A great way to ditch stuff you don’t need and make a little bit of extra cash.  Having a successful garage sale isn’t easy, however.  I have had many over the years and thought I would share my garage sale tips and a few lessons I have learned along the way. 

Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

Is it worth having a garage sale?

Let me just say first off that garage sales are a LOT of work if you want them to really succeed.  Don’t try to sell valuable jewelry at a garage sale.  You probably won’t make as much money as if you went online and sold it on eBay. 

Garage sales are mainly for the clutter you have lying around your home.  Sure, you might get lucky and find a collector looking for that old doll of your grandmother’s but I wouldn’t count on it.  Of course, getting rid of clutter is very good for mental health so in the long run, yes, garage sales are totally worth the effort. 

What sells at a garage sale?

What does sell at a garage sale? Just about anything that’s not expensive enough to sell at an auction or to a collector. Broken or not, your junk is fair game for garage sales!  Here are a few of the most popular items to sell:

  • Gently used clothing.  Kids clothes are particularly hot… adult clothing not so much.
  • Tools. I always have people looking for tools, particularly old tools.  They are expensive to buy new and a hammer is a hammer, right?
  • Furniture. Make sure you have help moving things in and out of the house. 
  • Dishes, glasses, etc.  I find a lot of new couples hit garage sales to stock their new home.  I know I did when I moved out of my parent’s house. 
  • Garden tools, flower pots, and other garden stuff.
  • Purses.  Seems like women can never have enough purses!  Make sure you go through them thoroughly to make sure they are truly empty.
  • Costume jewelry. Make sure your bling is really not all that valuable.  
  • Games, toys, and bicycles.  Kids toys in general always sell well for me. 

Garage sale in an american weekend on the yard green lawn

How do I do a garage sale?

If you have never had a garage sale before, you may not know how to start. Obviously, sorting through your clutter is number one.  If you haven’t used it in a year, chances are you really don’t need it any more.  Don’t get rid of baby clothes unless you know for sure you are done having babies.  That stuff is expensive!

Like these garage sale tips?  Here are a few more posts to read

Pick a date for your garage sale and see if anyone else wants to go in on it with you.  That way, you can’t back out at the last minute!  Gather up your unneeded items in a central location.  Your decluttering will probably take a few weeks so find an out of the way corner and start adding things to sell.  

Decide where you want to advertise and if your neighborhood has any sale restrictions.  Put your advertisement in the newspaper, online, and in neighborhood Facebook groups.  Invest in some garage sale signs and a small cash box to store your money in.  Make sure you stock up on small change, dollar bills, etc before the sale date. 

5 things I learned from my garage sale

5 Things I Learned From My Garage Sale

I learned quite a bit from having a garage sale and thought I would share my random musings with you.  The internet is full of garage sale tips and tricks and I encourage you to read them all.  And buy wine.  Because wine will make your garage sale a lot more tolerable! 

I have a lot of stuff  

Honestly, I have no idea where half of it comes from!  Shopping is not really my thing.  I don’t update my home decor every season or buy a new purse to match every outfit in my closet.  I am a rather simple person in terms of what I buy. 

Despite my attempts at living simply, crap seems to find a way into my home no matter what I do.  The neighbors bring me cookies in a pretty tin that I have to keep.  I win something in a contest that I don’t really need but I entered because the PTA asked me to.  My daughter goes to a birthday party and comes home with a goodie bag filled with stuff she does not need.  All of these things take up residence in my home and leave me feeling cluttered and penned in.

stuffed animal dog

My children have an unnatural attachment to their crap

My 17 year old daughter has a toy box in her room that is filled with My Little Ponies and Zhu Zhu pets.  Has she actually LOOKED at these things recently? NO!  But the mere mention of selling that crap at a garage sale sends her into a fit of tears, insisting that those things are ‘special’.  Uh-huh…where did you get that special item?  No idea, she says, but it can’t be sold at the garage sale.

garage sale sign

Apparently, people want this clutter! 

I actually did fairly well this weekend in terms of money earned. Honestly, the amount of stuff I sold surprised me.  I figured people would look at it and go ‘Who the hell wants that crap?”.  But, no…they actually scooped it up, gave me money and hauled it off to their own houses. 

It is weird to think of my things in someone else’s house but hopefully it can become a useful member of the household and not just a piece of clutter.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?  

People will haggle the price on anything! 

This is the part of a garage sale that I dislike immensely.  I hate haggling with people over  price.  Honestly, is my old Christmas tin worth $1.00?  Who knows!  The little old lady shopping at my garage sale offers me a quarter…do I take it? I can either take the 25 cents or give the darn tin to Good Will at the end of the day and miss out on my huge amount of money! 

How do you price items for a garage sale? I pretty much went with the ‘make me an offer’ concept and took whatever people were willing to pay.  At least I made enough to take the family out to dinner one night, right?  Experiences are worth more than my pile of stuff!

Things put up on tables for a flee market or auction

I should have gotten rid of a lot more!

Not only would more money have been nice, I also know that I have way more stuff in my house that I really don’t need.  However, apparently the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree because I just couldn’t bare to part with a lot of my stuff. 

My kids are teens but I can’t sell their Lego blocks! And don’t you dare ask me to sell their Little People toys or the tiny Hot Wheel cars my son played with!   And I wonder why my children have an unnatural attachment to their toys, huh?

free sign on chain link fence with arrow

After Your Garage Sale

What to Do with Garage Sale Leftovers

After many hours of sitting outside manning the driveway, you are probably tired. Is your garage sale only one day?  Or two?  Maybe a long weekend?  What do you do with leftover garage sale items?  And how do you get to the point where you will NEVER need to have another garage sale?  Here are a few tips:

Sell your garage sale leftovers online or donate them to a number of charities.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Use Freecycle to give to local people in your community.
  2. Sell garage sale leftovers on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook.  
  3. Donate to the Goodwill or other local thrift stores
  4. Pass on books, magazines, kids toys, or anything else to people in your community who might need them
  5. Hold another garage sale. You already have the signs and cash box.  Why not have another one!

 
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Organize the garage, closet, pantry, etc.

Now that you have gotten rid of the kids old bike, 12 pounds of stuffed animals and those tools you never use, you need to organize what’s left.  You have so much free space now, whether you want to create a craft closet for kids or turn the spare room into a guest bedroom, you have plenty of options. 

We added new shelving into our garage to better organize our remaining gardening supplies and mounted large hooks on the ceiling to hang things we don’t use often.  If you plan on updating your newly emptied garage space, check out the EasyGarage After-Summer Savings Event – 10% off everything, 15% off $2,000+, 20% off $5,000

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Keep the clutter from coming back

From this point on, ask yourself if you need an item before you buy it.  Have a one in, one out rule for keeping clutter at bay.  If you buy a new purse, then one old purse must go to Goodwill.  Leave the credit cards at home to reduce impulse shopping.  Having a garage sale is a lot of work…. don’t make it a yearly event!

Diane Signature

Comments

  1. Garage sales are a unique social experiment. Haggling is so annoying! Some folks live for bargain shopping but its maddening.

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