Garage Sale Tips When You’re Short on Time

Having a garage sale can be a fun and profitable venture, unless you're short on time. Then it's stressful. Here are 5 time-saving garage sale tips!

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Just this weekend, I had a two-day garage sale and earned a little bit over $300. Even though I didn’t make as much as I had hoped, I still think my efforts were worth it. For starters, I got rid of eight totes of kid’s clothes, coats, and accessories that had been cluttering up my garage since last winter. Second, I truly believe that having a garage sale is a fun and easy way to teach my kids about money. My oldest daughter even had a lemonade stand and made $22 of her own!

Even though I love having garage sales, part of me always wonders if I’m wasting my time. After all, my schedule is already packed to the point where I probably need time management classes as it is. The last thing any sane person would normally want to do is sit in a humid garage and sling toddler clothes for 50 cents a pop. Am I right?

5 Garage Sale Tips When You’re Short On Time

But here’s the thing: Unlike previous years when I spent countless hours preparing for my sale, I only spent an hour or two this go-round. That’s because, after all these years, I have finally mastered the art of having a successful garage sale when you’re short on time. Here are some of my best garage sale tips:

Group same-priced items together – The biggest garage sale time-suck by far is taking the time to price every item. I avoid pricing most things completely by grouping same-priced items together on tables. Most of the stuff I sold in this sale was clothing, so I made everything 50 cents. I may not be getting rich at that price point, but I didn’t have to spend 5 hours pricing each item. I did have one table of priced clothing, but that was only the nicest stuff.

Piggyback off a neighbor’s sale so you don’t have to do signs – I employed this strategy at my old house all the time. Whenever anyone on my street was having sale, I would try to get my stuff ready and have one the same day. One of the most annoying and time-consuming parts of having a sale is putting up signs, but when you piggy-back off of someone else, you may not have to! This year, I timed my garage sale on the same weekend as our huge neighborhood sale. Score!

Place free ads on the internet – The internet has made the entire garage sale process so much easier. Even though I may not take the time to put up signs all over the neighborhood, I always take the time to place some free ads online. This year, a free ad on craigslist and our neighborhood Facebook page brought oodles of people to my door – and all with little effort on my part.

Prepare all year- Part of the reason I put my garage sale together so quickly this year is because I had been preparing for it all year. My strategy is simple – I keep a tote of garage sale stuff in the garage all year so I can add to it any time I come across something I don’t want. I also keep totes in my kid’s closets so I can immediately store pieces of clothing they outgrow. While my oldest child’s stuff goes straight into the garage for my youngest, my youngest daughter’s clothing is ready for the next garage sale.

Set out a box for free stuff – Some items aren’t nice enough – or worth enough – to bother pricing them. If you want to get rid of them, however, you can always set them out for free. I like to keep a “free box” for little toys and knick-knacks. I don’t mind giving a few things away for free; I just don’t want to spend time messing with it.

As usual, the best part of my garage sale this year was the very end. Why? Because I managed to get rid of all the “extras” in one fell swoop. Just like previous years, I put an ad on Craigslist and someone came and picked it all up. That meant that my garage sale clean-up only involved putting our folding tables up and sweeping the garage. Score.

Are you having a garage sale this year? What are your best garage sale tips for saving time?

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  1. What would you do if it’s bad weather on the day of the sale and you feel you can’t hold it? How do you reschedule it?

    1. I would probably just put up signs and put new ads on craigslist! I got lucky with the weather this year.

  2. Glad to hear your garage sale was a success. I call 300 tax free dollars in the hand, a success.

    Clearing out the garage must be worth at least $300 in stress value, don’t you think? So you’ve just doubled your take for the weekend! πŸ™‚

    Did you find people wanted to barter? Not sure I could handle that…

    1. Yes, and some of the bartering was so dumb. I sold almost all of my kid’s clothes for 50 cents but people still asked if I would take less. Some lady had a giant stack of stuff – 14 items – and asked if I would take $3. That is so annoying! It doesn’t get much cheaper than 50 cents, people!

  3. Great tips! I’ve never had a garage sale, but I’m sure I will one day. Piggy backing of other’s sales sounds like a great idea!

  4. I totally agree with the tip about the Internet. Almost everyone that has ever came to one of ours found out about it from looking online first. It almost makes putting up signs pointless.

    1. Yep, pretty much! I still remember when you had to pay to put ads in the local newspaper and that was the only real way to get the word out!

  5. Great tips! We sold most of our stuff when we moved by listing on the Facebook page of our subdivision, along with Craigslist. Way to get rid of all the excess stuff, and nice cash in hand! Your daughter is starting her own empire.. πŸ™‚

    1. She really is. She is extremely money motivated!

  6. No sales yet this year, but we are de-cluttering and getting ready for one. we always list our previous sales on Craigslist and list items, so people know what to expect. Never used the free stuff pile, may need to use that next time.

    1. The free box worked great! Got rid of a lot of random toys.

  7. Oh, how I miss having garage sales! In the country, most people don’t bother because of the lack of traffic. It’s work to have them, but worth it to get rid of all of the stuff and make some cash in the process. πŸ™‚

  8. Solid tips Holly, especially piggybacking off of other neighbors so you don’t have to spend the time putting up signs and everything. We’ve gone back and forth on having a sale this year – we just need to set aside the time to actually do one, otherwise it’ll just end up in some trips to the Goodwill.

    1. I hear ya! Sometimes taking stuff to Goodwill is the only thing that makes sense.

  9. Great tips!! We’ve never had a garage sale, but I’m sure we will at some point. When we moved last year, we could have had one…but it was just easier to donate everything and sell the more expensive items on Craigslist individually (furniture and my husband’s tools). Now, we really don’t have an excess of anything lol, but I know as the girls get older we’ll start to acquire more stuff!

    1. That is what happens here. My youngest turns 4 this week. Every year, she outgrows an entire wardrobe and a bunch of toys/stuff!

  10. We have been lucky that most of our kids clothes have been hand me downs from friends and then other friends have kids after us, so the clothes just keep making the rounds. I guess if I had to, I would probably just take them either to goodwill or Once Upon a Child and take the $1.00 they would offer me for 10 boxes of clothes.

    I just think I hate dealing with people enough, that I wouldn’t do a garage sale.

    1. I totally get it. Here are the annoying things I dealt with this weekend:

      1) People haggling for items that were already 50 cents.
      2) Someone trying to walk into my garage with a cigarette. I stopped her at the end of the driveway and said NOPE!
      3) people bringing their dogs in my garage. I wouldn’t normally mind except that my 13-year-old dachshund kept getting upset. He’s blind but he can smell another dog a mile away.

  11. wow $22 for a lemonade stand! That’s a lot of money for a little kid! Glad it wasn’t too much of a hassle. I had one last year and that was pretty much it for me. I don’t have much else to get rid of!

    1. She was asking 50 cents but a few people gave her a dollar or more!

  12. Great tips! I love checking out garage sales but I haven’t had one myself in so long but I’d like to do one this summer or next year when I start decluttering more. I would add purchasing a few cheap signs at the dollar store to advertise the garage sale at the nearest main road and lead people to it. Most of the garage sales I’ve come across have been from me just driving around and seeing a sign. Kids could also help create signs to put up as well.

  13. For renters in an apartment building, the alternative would be to sell things online. I sell on Craigslist often and pride myself on the hustle. You really can sell your stuff and make money that way.

  14. I think that’s crazy some people will try to haggle you down from 50 cents. I love going to garage sales people are practically giving things away.

  15. I love the last tip: the worst part of the garage sale is putting all your unwanted stuff back into your boxes and lugging them into the garage. No thanks. πŸ™‚

  16. When I was growing up, our neighborhood did a coordinated yearly sale. So I got it down pretty well. My mom always did a free bin too. She also always made 10-cent and 25-cent boxes. It’s a great way to lure the kids in, and it gives the adults time to peruse in peace.

    I want to have a garage sale but that would require us going through the garage and sorting through things. Tim’s asthma keeps going crazy from all the dust. Sigh.

  17. I’ve never had a garage sale of my own, but I have participated in a neighborhood sale where a few families do a sale together. It is win-win because you share the work of putting the sale together and shoppers get more to choose from!

  18. We are actually planning one this summer and we are taking your advice to piggy back off a neighbor’s. The great thing is that you share any kind of marketing costs, and you also get to share the crowds since they are nearby. The last time we had a garage sale was 7 years ago, so we are a little rusty, but looking forward to getting rid of a bunch of stuff.

  19. Sounds like you did pretty well actually! I have never had a garage sale, but mostly because I’m really weird and paranoid about strangers coming to my house like that. I think it’s adorable that your daughter is already quite the little entrepreneur with her lemonade stand – $22 is awesome! πŸ™‚

  20. My son’s school has a garage sale 2x a year, so we give our unwanted stuff to them so they can have the garage sale. This is nice because we can give them things that our local goodwill won’t take (like opened board-games or a used breast-pump). They don’t make that much money compared to the amount they need, but every penny helps for them.

  21. Sounds super successful! I wish I could’ve come and purchased all of your baby clothes ;). I keep a box of stuff to donate in the basement, which I need to actually take to Goodwill one day. You’re smart to prep all year long–makes it so much easier on the day of.

  22. I love that your girls sold lemonade and made some great money too! They are actually the perfect age because they are old enough to man it and cute enough that nobody can resist them! πŸ™‚ I also like your tip to box-up the leftovers and give them away for free – that’s the worst part in my mind, dealing with the stuff that doesn’t sell.

  23. My wife is a great garage sailer. We just got a huge double set of K’nex for my son for like $12, which is an amazing deal. Just gotta wait for the right opportunity.

  24. I’m not having a yard sale this year. It’s too much of a pain to do annually, but I do regularly take decent outgrown kid clothes to consignment and we do pretty well there. $300 is a win in my book any day. Congrats!

  25. Our city does city-wide garage sales every Spring. We did one the first year in our house and it went “okay.” Unfortunately it rained the Saturday of the sales so it really killed the sales. I would consider doing it again but only if we had plenty of time to prepare. So basically we won’t be having another garage sale for about 5 years haha

  26. Awsome Holly, I can\’t believe your daughter made $22 with her lemonade stand, that\’s pretty cool. Garage sales are a great way to earn $ fast. We\’re always surprised at how much stuff we accumulate. Getting rid of it is great, earn money and reduce the clutter too.

  27. I made just over $250 from my sale, but our total was just under $600 as we had several people/families involved in ours. We had a 2 day sale too. I also keep totes for garage sale things that I just add to throughout the year as I come across items. The more times I do a garage sale, the easier it gets.

  28. The one thing that I realized was absolutely necessary to be successful with a garage sale was to make sure we got into the local newspaper. The traffic off of signs alone just isn’t enough….but when we put an ad in the local newspaper, people showed up with the paper in hand because they simply drove around going to addresses listed in the paper.

  29. We are not planning on having any Garage Sales anytime soon, but I have had a gazillion in the past. My best tip is to price and clean everything the night before. This saves alot of time when you open up in the early morning.

  30. As a buyer, I myself would love to buy products in group with same-priced items together. It’s easy to pick and I am a type of person who just get whatever I like as long as the size is right. I don’t have to see the prize in every clothes.

  31. These are some great tips! My sister is moving soon and she’s thinking of organizing a garage sale. It will be her first sale and I’m definitely recommending your post to her. I’m sure she’ll find your tips quite helpful. Thanks for sharing!

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