7 ways to make more from garage sales

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Garage sales can be a lot of fun. But not so much if you don’t sell stuff.

How do you arrange your items so they sell? How do you price those items? How do you earn the most money possible?

There are all kinds of tips and tricks to make the most of your garage sale. Selling is a psychological game, and if you utilize these tips, you’re likely to sell more and bulk up your wallet (and your emergency fund).

Here are 7 ways to maximize your yard sale profits

1. Include expensive alternatives in the mix.

As the old saying goes: ‘What’s the best way to sell a $500 watch? Next to a $17,000 watch!’ Boy, Apple sure took this to heart!

Instead of just selling the cheap stuff, put out some expensive items for display – even if you doubt those items will sell. When your customers see the expensive items and shake their head no, the lower-priced items will catch their eye and they’ll say to themselves, ‘What a deal!’

Be strategic about the placement of the more expensive items. Don’t group them together. Spread them out between the lower-priced items to contrast the various items.

Also, keep in mind that very expensive items can make high-priced items look inexpensive. Apple took advantage of this by selling a $17,000 watch next to a $500 watch – the $500 watch is high-priced, but it doesn’t look as bad next to the $17,000 one!

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2. Try pay-what-you-want pricing.

For the items you know you can’t sell at a decent price, try pay-what-you-want pricing. Here’s how it works . . . .

Let’s say you have a trinket that you think you can only sell for $1. You know that people are carrying around dollar bills with them to your garage sale, so why not say ‘make an offer’ and see if people give you more of those dollar bills?


Alternatively, you can set a minimum on your pay-what-you-want item. You could sell your trinket for $1+, for example. You might be surprised how many people pay more simply due to the power of suggestion!

Keep in mind that pay-what-you-want pricing doesn’t always work. Some people will shy away from making an offer because they may not want to offend you, the seller.

However, I think you’ll find that most will be pleased when they can pick their own price.

3. Clean your stuff!

While buyers expect some wear and tear on your garage sale items, they don’t want anything that’s a mess. Make sure that you clean your items before the garage sale.

You don’t have to go crazy deep cleaning, but if you’re selling furniture, vacuum up the chip crumbs between the couch cushions and polish up any tabletop surfaces.

You get the idea.

4. Don’t offer too many choices of the same type of item.

This strategy comes from a great TED talk by Sheena Iyengar. Sheena explained how when customers are faced with 700 options, they freeze up.

Believe it or not, you’ll sell more by having just a few options rather than a whole bunch of options.

For example, say you want to get rid of some coffee mugs. You have three boxes of them in the garage, and decide to put them out. Bad decision!

Instead, put out a few different mugs and wait for one to sell. As soon as it sells, replace it with another one.


I suppose another reason why people buy less when they are presented with too many options is because they feel like there’s a huge supply – which must mean that whatever is displayed isn’t that valuable. After all, there are tons of them, right?

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5. Put out lots of directional signs.

Setting up signs pointing people from main roads to your garage sale is a fantastic idea. Make the signs big and the font clear. Don’t complicate the signs. Keep them simple. If parking is limited near your home, be sure to include a sign by your garage sale indicating where parking space is available. It’s also smart to post about your garage sale ahead of time on Craigslist.

Before you put up signs, however, make sure you check with the city to ensure you’re not violating any ordinances.

6. Bundle to sell more.

If you have some similar items to sell, you might want to make some bundle deals. Dishes are best sold together. Put some tools in a big jar and sell them for one price. Come up with themed bundle deals too (Christmas, for example).

You can also give a discount for buying in bulk. For example, you could sell coffee mugs for $1 each or sell three for $2.50 – it’s their choice!

The key here is to sell items that go together or make sense in a bundle deal.

7. Make a final offer to those walking away.

Toward the end of your garage sale, make an offer to give a certain percentage off all your items to those who walk away. Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself donating the items and not making as much money. Only use this as a last resort.

Which of these strategies have you used at garage sales before? Let us know and leave your comment!

By the way, if you need to budget your newfound money, be sure to check out our free budget tool!


For more money-saving and money-making advice for your home, see our real estate section.

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