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Tips Wanted- Weekend Garage Sale


Hey everybody!

One of the things GF and I like to do, that literally costs nothing, is we go to our city library and check out books. On our latest trip, I happened to pick up a book called “Stuffocation” by James Wallman. While not necessarily the best book out there, it does discuss whether or not we are living with too much “stuff” and how we can overcome it. While reading the book, I often looked back to an apartment I had a few years ago that I loved, which happened to be just over 400 SF. It was essentially one large room and a bathroom, with a short half-wall (the ceilings were 20 ft high) separating the bedroom from the remaining living space. The apartment was so small that I could only keep what I used on a fairly regular basis, and, in fact, I lived for about a year without having any furniture at all- just a mattress on the floor for my bed and 2 folding lawn chairs in the living room. There was something about having the minimal space that just appealed to me, and is still appealing to me.

We currently live in a what many would consider a “small” house- only 1,300SF, but me and GF both agree that it feels wayyy too big at times. It feels like more often than not, we can’t find things we use on a regular basis. On top of that, we’re constantly tripping over objects we never use, that are just filling in the empty floor space. In an effort to purge ourselves of these unwanted and unnecessary items (and make some money!) we decided to have a garage sale this weekend.

My mindset for determining if a possession of mine should be sold is 1) I haven’t used it in a while, meaning in the last year or longer 2) or I’ve gotten something, either newer or an upgrade, that can replace what I was using (my old guitar and amp fall into this category). My thoughts for if a possession could be sold is 1) it’s in good condition and 2) it’s in good working order, or easily repairable with a little time and know-how.

However, this being said, I do have quite a bit of items that on the surface seem like I should sell them, but deep in my soul, they still hold that sentimental value, like gifts from family or items I bought myself for reaching various goals of mine. I’ve been googling on how to best part with these special items and I’m thinking that I should just do it, since what are the chances I’ll miss them, especially if they haven’t moved from the spot I put them 3 years ago. I just don’t want to have any regrets later on thinking “Man, I shouldn’t have sold that.” One piece of advice I saw said to take a picture of the item as memento vs having the physical item taking up space and collecting dust. This definately feels plausible. Do any of you out there have any advice dealing with this?

And to the title of my post- this is my first garage sale. Ever. I’m not sure how to value anything to make it sell without feeling like I got robbed. I don’t want to price things so high that people are insulted, either. As a garage sale newbie, it’s seems fairly simple but I’m feeling pretty intimidated right now. Please help! Any tips and advice in the comments is greatly appreciated!

Have a great week!


  • Reply Jen |

    One way I price items is to look at the item new, then price the item at half that if in good/like new condition. Adjust further down if the item is banged up, but still functional. Hope that helps! Don’t be shy about talking to people when they touch or look at an item for a few seconds, it always seems to close the deal for me. Good luck. They are a lot of work and you will get minimal payout, but the emotional release of getting rid of all of that stuff makes it TOTALLY worth it!

    • Reply Matt |

      Thanks for the advice, Jen! We’re really looking forward to selling and ridding ourselves of this stuff we don’t need anymore.

  • Reply paris013 |

    I’ve recently discovered a method on “stuff” that really did change the way I thought and felt about my surroundings. The method is called KonMari, based on a book by a japanese “tidier” Marie Kondo. I cannot stress enough how wonderful my surroundings are now that everything “sparks joy”.

    Here’s a youtube link to the audiobook

    • Reply Matt |

      Awesome- I’m going to have to listen to this. At 4+ hours long, looks like the perfect thing to listen to while I’m doing work on the computer.

  • Reply Bob |

    I have had several successful garage sales. 1. If you can do a three day event do it! Friday’s have always been the best day. I know it seems counter intuitive but they show up on Friday morning in droves. 2. Pre-stage it the night before-be ready at the crack of dawn because they will start looking around, re-stage as the day goes on 3. Price everything in whole dollar amounts-change is a pain. Have about $50-100 on hand in small denominations 4. Advertise on craigslist starting on Tuesday or Wednesday-be sure to mention certain items that you are selling(no prices); put clear signage in the neighborhood pointing them in the right direction-put the address and the times-you can buy signs at the hardware store that stick in the ground for about $6 or $7 they are big enough for people to see and worth it. 5. Price stuff to go…I know you might think you are getting ripped off but seriously…do you want to bring it all back in when its over? 6. Clothes and books need to be pretty cheap $3 per shirt(expect to take $1 or $2 because everyone haggles). start with 2 books for $1 then maybe do 3 for $1, don’t deal in change 7. Presentation can be the difference between selling or not selling-have books well displayed-not stacked, hang clothing on racks if you can-make it easy to move around big items so they can be seen. 8. if you have a garage and you live in a warm or sunny climate stage most of your items in there. 9. Park your cars away from the house so there is plenty of parking 10. Expect to haggle, price a little higher than your rock bottom price. ( i priced my 5 yr old lawn mower for $50- I got $40) ( I priced a cordless trimmer 1 yr old for $60 and got $50-I paid about $100 for it.) 11. Stuff has to be priced to move…its stuff you decide you no longer need or want and your customers have $ to give you for it…don’t be greedy especially on big stuff-they are going to move it for you in most cases…if they need delivery charge for it. 12. Expect to have the bulk of your customers Friday morning and Saturday morning-so again be ready. We always started at 7:30 am but folks show up at 7. Advertise your times -say “no early birds” just to thwart those that show up at 6AM. 13. go to costco and get a couple of cases of water…have it ice cold and price it for $1-I always make money on this and I figure between the sign cost and the sale of the water its a wash. 14. Print off a bunch of signs and hang them in your church or barbershops or community board at the supermarket-put the same info as on the Craigslist ads.
    Good luck

  • Reply Jessica |

    I love the topic of purging because I fancy myself a minimalist and I like the idea of living with purpose (less things, more time, etc). The Konmari method is awesome, but can be intimidating (keeping only the things that spark joy). Start here for inspiration http://www.theminimalists.com/

  • Reply Walnut |

    Advertise on Craigslist and let people know that if they’re interested, it’ll be available on the date of garage sale. Anything over $50 is probably best off getting listed on its own with reference to the overall garage sale ad for the best visibility.

    As far as momentos go, are you using/displaying these? Or are they just sitting in a box? Over the years I have gradually purged the momentos that just sit in a box, but this is usually slowly over time. It seems like things like graduation picture frames, old trophies, and that sort of thing just become less important with time and take up space. Think of it in terms of, “Would I want to move this if we moved to a new house?” If the answer is no, then consider passing it along to a new owner.

    • Reply Matt |

      Just sitting in boxes up in my attic or down in the basement. You’re right- that’s a great way to think about it and will be very helpful in the next few days.

  • Reply Den |

    Do you want to make a lot of money, purge items or a little of both? That answer will help you price things. I also ask myself “what would I pay for this item from a stranger?”

    Have an extension cord available for electric items so people can test them.

    Make sure items are clean and tidy and displayed nicely.

    Keep you money/change with you at all times (fanny pack? Money belt?) and be sure to have someone else there at all times too for back up (bathroom breaks, etc).

    If you have friends and they have items, invite them to participate. The more the merrier….plus “5 family sale” brings in more customers AND you have helpers. Just be sure to label items with initials for different owners and keep track as payments are made (or save the labels).

    We’ve sold water bottles and baked good before, but if you’re stretched for time I would skip it – most shoppers now bring their own water and the hauling of water and ice is a pain.

    If you have a driveway and the day is nice, pull your larger items out for display on the driveway/lawn to pull in more shoppers.

    And finally, what will you spend your proceeds on? Debt reduction? A fun weekend trip? Savings? It helps me stay focused on the goal of the sale. It’s a lot of work, but if you’re using the money for something fun AND de-cluttering you will enjoy the process more. Or maybe half debt repayment, half fun stuff?

    Good luck!

  • Reply Mrs. Crackin' the whip |

    No garage sale tips here. Goodwill in my best friend! I will say that if an item makes you pause just keep it for now. You don’t want to get rid of something and regret it. Review it in the next round of cuts. Mr. Crackin’ is on a minimalist kick right now too. He has scanned every photo album that his grandmother owned and passed the physical albums to other family members to enjoy which was a decision that did not come lightly.

    • Reply Den |

      That’s another good point – anything that doesn’t sell, should NEVER go back in your house. Box it up and take it to Goodwill immediately!

  • Reply Honey Smith |

    Some places require a permit to have a yard sale, so check with your city to make sure you comply with whatever rules are in place.

  • Reply Jenna |

    I’m pro konmari method – though maybe more as a method to use going forward, not on a tight timeline with a garage sale this weekend – two reasons it focuses on keeping things in your life that positively contribute to it [bring you joy] and it forces you to gather like items together. When you sort by room or drawer or space you don’t realize how much duplication and redundancy you have.

  • Reply diana quin |

    I have always heard to price items at 1/10th to 1/4th of retail. Someone mentioned half but you can buy stuff new at the store for half off on sale. I don’t have yard sales. I donate to Goodwill and take the tax deduction (if I am organized that year). You can list your items on “it’s deductible” and it imports through Turbo Tax to your tax return. For me, that’s easier than paying for a permit, making signs, etc. I also constantly declutter. I tell my teen girls that when they decide they aren’t going to wear something anymore, put it in the giveaway pile.
    Good luck

  • Reply Tina Stacy |

    Hey Matt,

    My husband and I have a big garage sale every year. We used to have the worries you do, but what we’ve found is that when we pulled off the bandage (so to speak) we realized we were healed. Healed from the desire to keep things for reasons that don’t really matter. For instance, a gift is really only special if it is heartfelt (the perfect gift) or from a special occasion that perhaps means it was purchased to last (ex: I recieved a Tiffany’s keyring when I became a teacher. It’s scratched and junky, but to me, it represents my walk into my career). All the electronics and random jewelry we’ve gotten as gifts don’t mean as much as the person and not as much as the gift we kept from them from that one special time. Also, we price on the cheap and to always be open to negotiate. Why? If we got it out of our house, we do not want it coming back in. If there are some high ticket items, we try to sell them online first. If there are no takers than the thing we value is probably not of much value. This is just how we feel about garage sales. We always walk away from ours with several hundred dollars and a house that feels so much more enjoyable to be in during the log cabin-fever seasons:) Have a great day.

  • Reply Rosemary |

    A suggestion for those things you want to keep as sentimental but don’t use anymore. Take a picture of them and eventually make a “Memory Book” of the images. A great place to do this is Shutterfly. I make books for every year that have the highlights of that year in them. You could do this and include memory items or just do a memory item book. It is such fun to go back and look as these books after published. I wait for Shutterfly sales to have mine printed. Digital photography is great but often pictures end up not being printed or lost in chaos on a hard drive.

  • Reply Sarah |

    paris013 – my husband has read the same book by Marie Kondo. We went through our linen closet and got rid of 75% of the stuff. Next is our kitchen. I’m having a garage sale after we are done as we are getting rid of a lot of great stuff that we never use.

  • Reply Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore |

    My garage sale prices are a little on the high side for 3 reasons: 1 – gives room for negotiation without feeling like I got robbed 2- I live in a nice area of town, generally means I can price a little higher 3 – my sale is VERY well organized, clean, etc. Buyers are willing to pay a little more when things are nicely presented.

  • Reply Matt |

    Hey everybody- just want to thank you all for the amazing comments and advice. I want to provide a bit of an update for everyone: We’re slowly going through our stuff and a lot of what you have said has help me put some of the more sentimental items in the “sell” pile. I think this weekend is going to be more of a dry run, since we can only do the sale on Sunday. Everything that isn’t sold will get put back in the garage for a few weeks until we can do a full 3-day weekend one with some advertising and all that. I didn’t think it would be complicated, but it sounds like to get the most out of it, I have to put some more effort into it. I’ll answer everyone’s comments individually throughout the day. Thanks again!!

So, what do you think ?