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Operation Garage Sale: Successfully Selling Clothes


Whenever I go to garage sales, I rarely look at clothes. To me, the time it takes to sort through folded clothes on a table is enough to make me pass on by. I also am not someone who likes to fold clothes. Now, for those garage sale hosts that hang their clothes on hangers, I usually glance at something, look at the size and if it’s not in my range I keep on going to the nick-nacks. But I do look at them if they are hung up.

Taking from my own garage sale habits, I hope to have the best garage sale ever in terms of selling most of our clothes. Here’s my gameplan:

1.) I am going to hang as much as I can. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough hangers to hang everything so some of them will have to be on a table. As items are sold, I’ll use those hangers to turn around and hang some of the clothes on tables.

2.) I am going to organize the clothes by size. I haven’t figured out the logistics yet, but I’ll probably use a piece of paper to sort of mark where size changes occur. That way, people can see right away what sizes things are.

3.) I am going to mark the size with the price. I’m using masking tape for pricing items since I’ve had horrible experiences trying to get off those pre-made stickers from items. Masking tape always seems to come off with no problems. It takes a bit longer to put the size on there, but thinking as a shopper it would save me time and also make me think, “This person took a lot of care with setting up this sale…they probably also take great care of the stuff they own.” Or, they’ll think I’m crazy. But as long as they buy more clothes…it’s all good!

4.) The clothes will be situated where people have to walk by them for the flow of the sale. If your garage sale set-up is a “U” shape (which mine will likely be at this point), I’m having the clothes at the bottom of the “U” so they have to walk right by them to get to the other side of the “U”.

5.) Related to #4, I am going to place a few stellar articles of clothing on display so you can see the front of the item. Probably bright articles of clothing to catch their eye or something that is so cute that you walk by it and go “awe…” Anything to grab attention to hopefully draw people into looking through all of the clothes.

6.) About an hour or so before I close shop, I am going to offer a paper bag sale on the remaining clothes. I haven’t figured out a price yet (any suggestions?) but it seems like a good way to reduce the remaining items.

7.) I’m going to post a sign saying the children’s hangers are available for purchase after the sale. I have no idea why I purchased so many hangers for my son’s clothes. Since he’s older now, his clothes can be hung fine with adult hangers. When setting up for the sale I’ll get a count and then come up with a price.

8.) All remaining clothes will be donated to St. Vincent de Paul. I do want to make as much money as I can with this garage sale, but I also want to rid our lifes of all of the unnecessary stuff. St. Vinny’s helped us with having their clothing at such a low price (25 cents/each) so it is only fitting to donate the leftover clothes. That way they can help the store and help someone in need of children’s clothing.

Of course, a lot must be said for getting people to visit the sale. I can’t sell anything if I don’t get people to stop by. I still am working on the gameplan for that.

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  • Reply Starving Artist |

    I have a friend who is a garage sale queen. She make a good deal of money every year, and usually hosts the garage sale over two days. One of her rules is: she doesn’t go down on price for the first day. I think this is one of a few things that has made it a profitable venture for her. Another big thing, of course, is SIGNS. Make sure they’re big, easily readable, and in the right spots.

    Have fun!

  • Reply Lynnae |

    I had a garage sale a few years back where I hung almost all of my daughter’s clothes, and I made a killing on them.

    If your garage sale is one day only, post a sign that says “everything left after noon is half price” or something like that. You’ll convince the early birds to pay full price early, and you’ll get more people later in the day, too.

  • Reply MoneyDummy |

    Arrows. People often don’t realize that the most important part of any garage sale sign is ARROWS, followed within two blocks by ANOTHER sign with . . . ARROWS!

    Addresses mean nothing. Arrows are the most effective means of re-routing garage sale traffic from whereever they were headed.

  • Reply KC |

    E-bay is the most profitable way to sell clothes, hands down. On more than one occasion, I’ve bought a $5 dress for my daughter at a secondhand store, let her wear it for a year, and sold it for $30 on e-bay. You just have to know what brands to look for. You can make even more money if you buy high end clothes at a thrift store and sell them on e-bay.

  • Reply The Shopping Sherpa |

    Wow! Your Vinnies sells clothes for 25 cents each?!

    Ours are at least $3 for baby stuff (often about the same as if you bought them new) and adults stuff starts at $6 each (with some stuff like suits going up to $40)

    I’m jealous!

  • Reply Tricia |

    Lynnae – great suggestion about the 1/2 off thing. Perhaps I’ll do something like that instead of a bag sale. I took inventory of my paper bag stash and I don’t have a lot available.

    MoneyDummy – I laughed when I read your comment. I have seen some doozy of signs in my day. Some only 4 inches tall and written in pen no less! You actually have to stop your car to read them.

    KC – None of our clothes are high-end. I think we had a Weebok outfit for our son (a hand-me-down) and that’s it. Everything else was from the dollar store, Walmart-like places or used. If we had more desirable clothes, I would probably be tempted to try eBay with them.

    The Shopping Sherpa – Our St. Vinny’s is awesome. I would try so hard to get there when they were open (they have pretty limited hours) and I’d buy bags of clothing at that price if they had any in stock. Even the adult shirts are 50 cents to $1.00. Last time I went I needed to buy some exercise shorts. I bought a pair of Nike shorts in my size for $3.00 and a college brand pair for $2.00 (those were the only two in my size). We have a Goodwill as well, but their prices are quite a bit higher so I rarely go there. Even on their half-off special days, their prices are still higher than St. Vinny’s.

    Out of curiousity, what part of the country are you in?

  • Reply Beverly |

    Another item to sell that sells big here in Texas is to have a cooler full of ice and soft drinks and water (of course you buy those on sale) and then sell for a $1.00 each. Alot of money can be made off of drinks, especially if it is hot!!

  • Reply Marte |

    The previous poster that suggested the cooler full of ice with water and drinks is correct. We did this, purchased the water 24 for $3.99 on sale at Meijer, a case of soda from Costo or Sams, sold each for a $1.00 each and ran out on the first day. We also moved the coffee make out into the garage and brewed a fresh pot right before we opened and sold coffee for 50 cents a cup. Made enough on both of these ventures to pay for newspaper ads and poster board signs. Still had money left over.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    As for the “bag” part at the end of your sale, we did this and told everyone, everything they could reasonably fit in the bag for $1..it helped us generate more money, and people are apt to take more at that price, so there was less for us to cart off to donation center after the sale, saving gas!
    Oh, and I think $1 is too high for cold drinks, 50 cents is a better deal, and you’ll still make a nice profit!

  • Reply Shay |

    With the clothes you don’t sell at the garage sale even if they are not name brand clothes put them in bulk lots for sale on ebay. I buy all my sons clothes this way works out well the most i have paid is 26.89 with postage and I got 36 Items some where too big as well (my son is soooo skinny!) so I have them for furture.

    good luck with the garage sale You have promted me to have my own as well! Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Gail |

    I’ve had a lot of garage sales and clothing never sells well. However, I like many of your ideas and will try them. As I read your suggestions a new idea came to my mind. I think I will try making an outfit out of pieces that I am selling and display the outfit. If I can find, say, a skirt and a blouse that go together I’ll hang them together somewhere.

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