The weekend garage sale – it’s a Kiwi institution. A magnet for bargain hunters and a source of a little extra cash for families struggling against today’s harsh economic climate. But some of them work and some of them don’t. Make yours a success by following the tips below.

Your Objective

Before you even start parcelling up those Culture Club CDs define your expectations. Garage sales don’t generally make huge amounts of money, but they are great for getting rid of things you’ve outgrown or no longer want while still getting more than you would if you just threw them away. Being realistic at the outset makes it less likely you’ll be disappointed by your garage sale.

Pick Your Time

Garage sales are traditionally held on weekend mornings – people are off work and the junk dealers, as much as they may be unwanted guests at garage sales, schedule their buying times around this tradition.

Don’t hold your garage sale on public holiday weekends, though. Half of your customers will have gone away. Similarly, times associated with high levels of retail spend, like Christmas, aren’t great for garage sales – people are spending their money in shops on brand new consumer goods.

If possible, hold your garage sale on a day when the weather is good – check the forecast.


Make it easy on yourself – think ahead about what you might need during the course of your sale and the problems you might encounter. Here are some suggestions:

  • Make the site of your sale as attractive as possible. If there are items in your garage that aren’t for sale cover them up with tarps or sheets. If you don’t, you’ll be forever telling people that they aren’t for sale.
  • Have at least $100 in change on you in small bills and coins and keep it in a money pouch around your waist.
  • Keep a calculator handy.
  • Create a pleasant mood by playing tranquil background music.
  • Lure people into your garage by placing one or two large, attractive items at the entrance to your driveway.
  • Be considerate of your neighbours – let them know of the sale in advance so that they aren’t alarmed by the hoards of people pouring into your garden.
  • Lock your pets safely away.
  • Have a stock of plastic bags available to put sold items in. Newspaper is great for wrapping breakable goods.

Displaying Your Wares

Just because it’s a garage sale doesn’t mean that prospective buyers want to rummage through garbage bags full of clothes or ferret their way through piles of unwashed household appliances.

Treat your sale as if you were running a shop for a day. Fold clothes neatly or hang them on clothes hangers. Set out other items on tables and desks. Try to group similar items together and make sure there’s enough space around the tables for people to inspect what your selling – remember, you might have quite a few visitors.

Have an electrical outlet or extension cord ready so people can try out any electrical goods – no one wants to buy something they aren’t sure will work. If you’re selling a TV or a stereo why not have it playing?

If you have some high-end items make them a feature of your display. Expensive goods do better if they are in a section by themselves – and it makes it easier to keep an eye on them.

If you have lots of similar cheap items, like toys, consider bagging them up into lots and selling them that way instead of individually. You won’t get left with the rubbish and you’ll make more money.


People come to garage sales looking for a bargain. Be realistic in your pricing.

Equip yourself with a few rolls of price stickers and put a price on everything. Many people who would otherwise make a purchase won’t bother if the price isn’t displayed. Put your stickers where they can be immediately seen, not on the bottom of items.

Price in round figures (50c, $1.00, $5.00 etc.). It’s buyer-friendly and it’ll make it easier for you to add up multiple items.


You can advertise your garage sale on various garage sale websites. You can also place an ad in your local paper. If you’re going to use newspaper advertising make sure you place the ad so it runs as close to the date of your sale as possible – a Thursday before a Saturday, for example. This will reduce the chances of early-bird buyers turning up before the sale even starts.

If you have items which you think will lure buyers to your sale mention them in your ad.


The time-honoured way of advertising a garage sale, though, is by placing home made signs where they can be easily seen on the streets in your area.

When making your signs, include the words “Garage Sale”, the date and day it’s on, the times it’ll run between, and your address. Then put a great big arrow on it pointing the way to your house.

Make sure your signs and lettering are large enough to be easily read from passing cars. As with newspaper advertising, don’t put your signs up too far in advance. Usually, first thing in the morning on the day of your sale is adequate.

Successful Sales

By advertising effectively, preparing your site, setting out your items attractively and pricing realistically you’re sure to have a successful garage sale. Remember, too, to look after yourself. It’s going to be a long day, so make sure you have plenty of refreshments prepared in advance to keep your energy up for all those sales you’re going to make!

To learn more about holding a successful garage sale check out this video.

How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale, 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings


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