Both sides of my family enjoy going to garage sales. I remember going to sales as young as four or five. I don’t think I have missed my areas city-wide sales in several years. My mom had yard sales at her house when I was a kid, but this year was my first doing my own garage sale. Now that I’ve have experience on both sides of the sale I thought I would share my advice for organizing your garage sale or your yard sale.
1. Make prices very clear. I’m on the shy side, but I have been at sales where something stood out to me, but I couldn’t see any price tag on it or around it so I just left without saying anything. I was afraid that if I asked the price, that it would be higher than I wanted to pay and I’d feel pressured to buy it anyway. I’ve also been to sales where people say “just make an offer if you see something you like.” Again, as a shy person it makes me uncomfortable to express interest in something and then potentially get stuck saying I don’t think it’s worth that or I don’t want to pay that. For the sake of shy people, and just for ease of running the sale – make prices clear. All unique items should be priced individually. If you have a lot of a certain type of item (such as a table of jeans) it’s fine to do one big sign in a clear spot that says Jeans $1.00 each, or bracelets $.50 each, etc. If items are smaller then putting them in a box with the price on the tag is a clever idea.
2. Make prices simple. I’ve visited sales where some items are listed for .35 or .60. It’s simpler to price things by quarter values, so .25, .50., or .75. Personally once items are $1.00 or higher I just do full dollars or half dollars. I would do $1.50 or $2 on something instead of $.1.75. This will save you time when making sale as the person running the sale, too.
3. Fold clothing with sizes easily accessible. Start folding jeans in half with the center zipper in front, then fold the legs of the jeans underneath. This way the price tag and the back of the jeans (where the tag is) are accessible without unfolding.
4. Don’t pile too much on each table. For clothing I stack items about four high at most. I still had to redo piles multiple times throughout my sale because people had unfolded items and then left them in a messy pile. Smaller piles are easier to pick through without making a mess.
5. Make an outline with tables. If you are inside a garage, this can create an outline that makes it clear what is for sale vs what are just personal belongings in your garage. If this isn’t possible, then covering your personal belongings that aren’t for sale with a tarp, or using yellow caution tape, etc can help.
6. Set up in advance. I’ve arrived at sales 15 minutes past the scheduled start time, only to find the person running the sale rushing to get everything on tables. If you have a garage sale, set up the night before. If you’re having a yard sale, have items priced in boxes and wake up well in advance so that you can be ready to go by start time, not just starting to set up at your scheduled start time.
7. Try to group items together. At my sale I put clothes all on one side, baby and kid items over the course of a few tables, I had one card table of dog toys and accessories, and then two tables of random odds and ends.
8. Make items easy to see. If you have DVDs or books, try to arrange them with the titles easy to read.
9. Arrange clothes by size. My sister brought kids clothes to my sale. Like most parents, she had a range of sizes to get rid of. She brought baby boys clothing from about 9 months up to 24 months. We tried to make one row of 9-12, one of 12 months, one of 18 months and one of 24 months to make it a bit easier for people to see what was what.
10. Put colorful items out front. When I am going to garage sales, if everything looks dark from the road I tend to assume it’s a lot of older items. If you have big items such as car seats, furniture or toys that are brighter colored then placing them just outside of the garage can catch peoples eye better.
11. Place larger items nearer to your checkout table. Many people feel uncomfortable if they are picking through items and feel ‘watched’. I intentionally put items like clothing, DVDs, and books (which people may want to browse or pick through for a long time) as far away from us as possible. I placed larger items that can be seen ‘at a glance’ closer to our table.
12. Avoid putting items on the ground or floor. Originally I had a table of toys with large items (like a foot-long firetruck) on the floor. I found that nobody was even glancing at items that were on the floor. I had people digging for several minutes through a box of DVDs on the table, but not even glance at boxes of DVDs on the floor. So once a few items sold and space was available on the table I moved it all up and then it got noticed by many more people.
13. Use initials if multiple people are selling. We mentioned to family members that were having a sale and we had several people ask if they could bring items too. We were happy to have them join in, the more the merrier. However, when we realized that we had five different households bringing items, I was worried about keeping track of how much each person had earned. We decided that we would forgo doing a “.25 per item on this table” type of system and instead have every single item individually priced. Each person used their initials on the stickers so that we could keep track. We had a few customers who wanted to just walk up with $5 and say that they had done the adding-up themselves. We didn’t want the customer to think we didn’t believe them, so we had to explain that we needed to see stickers to see how the $5 was divided between family members. It took a bit longer to check people out as a result, but it wasn’t too problematic.
14. Hang up nicer clothing. We hung up dresses, jackets, coats and items that still had tags on. This way they would stand out a bit.
15. Silverwear tray money organizer. We were scrambling for how to organize garage sale money the night before, and Ryan realized that each slot was roughly was wide as dollars. We used paper clips to hold the stacks of bills in place and to prevent wind from catching them. We used the horizontal slot for quarters. We didn’t price anything less than .25 so we expected to not get change in smaller values, but some people did pay for cheap items with dimes and nickles so we used a ziploc bag for all the smaller change. It worked really nice compared to other options I’ve seen people use as alternative to cash boxes. I’ve seen people try to use one large envelope, or large wallet or purse but that tends to leave them digging for the right type of bill. With this, everything was clear and accessible.
16. Mark off parking. I live in a duplex, and the first few customers parked in my neighbors side of the driveway. I didn’t want my neighbor to get blocked in when there were so many other places to park. So we moved our vehicle to the part of the drive where we wanted people to park, and put a posterboard with ‘garage sale parking’ on it. From then on we never had a single person try to park in the neighbors part of the drive. If you have a small drive, or just want to keep people out of a certain part of your yard, putting out a sign will help organize parking.
What are your yard sale organization tips? Share them in the comments!