A garage sale is one of the best ways to declutter your home and to make some extra cash. If you have enough items to sell and you set up your garage sale properly, you could easily make several hundred dollars. The key to your garage sale’s success is proper planning. Follow these steps on how to plan a garage sale so you can get everything sold and come out of it with plenty of spending money.

Choose the Right Sale Date

garage sale planning notesThere are two things to keep in mind when you choose the date for your garage sale: will people be available, and what will the weather be like? You don’t want to have your garage sale on a day when most people are out of town on vacation or at work. Saturday tends to be the best day for a sale, but Sunday, Friday, and even Thursday can also work well, especially if you’re running a sale over multiple days.

You’ll get more people at your garage sale if you hold it on a clear day with moderate temperatures. Nobody wants to browse if it’s 90 degrees out or if it’s raining. Dates towards the end of spring or the beginning of fall are usually good for moderate temperatures, but if it’s going to be hot, you can also just hold your sale in the morning.

Build Up Your Inventory

Now it’s time to sort through everything you own and decide what you can part with. The simplest way to do this is by getting some boxes and going through every room in your house. You may want to do one or two rooms per day so you don’t end up losing focus halfway through, as this can be a tedious process. Look for anything that you don’t need or haven’t used in a long time.

Get a Permit

The days of being able to set up your garage sale whenever you please are over – in some areas, at least. You may need to apply for a permit through your city to have a garage sale. Run a search online or contact the city clerk to find out, and apply for one if you do. If you need a permit but you fail to get one, there’s a possibility that you could receive a fine and have your sale shutdown.

Put Up Ads

There are a few great ways that you can advertise your garage sale, and if you want to drive the most possible traffic to your sale, you’ll take advantage of all of them.

Online ads are a must. You have plenty of space with these, so you should include information on the sale, including the location, the date, and the time, along with some of the items that you’re going to be selling. Don’t get too wordy, though, as people aren’t going to read paragraph upon paragraph about your inventory. Keep it short and to the point. Post your ads a day or two in advance of the sale. Craigslist is among the most popular sites for posting garage sale ages, but Yard Sale Search, Yard Hopper, and Garage Sale Hunter are a few more of the many options available online.

Newspapers may not be as popular as they once were, but plenty of people still read them, so you may want to pay for ads in your local paper and any large newspapers in the area. With newspaper ads, it’s even more important to keep your copy short so you don’t need to pay too much. Start with the sale details, and add some items if you have the space. Make sure that you submit your ad early enough that it will run a day or two before the sale.

Finally, there’s the traditional method of making signs. This is also an area where you need to run a quick online search or contact your city to ensure that what you’re doing is within the law. Some cities don’t allow garage sale signs. If signs are legal in your area, put a few up near the location of your sale either the morning of the sale or a day in advance. Write the address and the date and time of the sale, if you’re putting your signs up a day early. Poster board and a marker works well for making signs, and poster board in bright colors tends to get the most attention.

Get Your Sale Supplies

Consider the layout you’re going to have for your garage sale and what supplies you’ll need to set it up. You’ll need at least one large table to display your items, and more if you have an extensive inventory. You should also have chairs for you and anyone who is helping you with the sale, along with customers if they want to relax for a second.

Here’s one thing that’s essential but also easy to forget – change. You never know when you’re going to need to give a customer $13.47 in change, but you’ll need to be prepared. If you don’t already have sufficient change lying around, go to the bank and get some. You should have tens, fives, ones, a few rolls of quarters, and a few dollars’ worth of smaller coins, as well.

While on the subject of money, it’s smart to periodically take the money you’ve made from your sales inside periodically. It’s risky to keep a large amount of cash on hand, as it could get lost or stolen.

Prepare Your Inventory

Getting your inventory read for the sale involves sorting through it, pricing it, and then arranging it. It’s best to do the inventory preparation in that order.

Sort your inventory by item category. Start with broad categories – clothes, books, appliances, toys, etc. If you have quite a bit of inventory in certain categories, you can divide it into smaller categories. For example, instead of just clothes, you could divide it into men’s clothes, women’s clothes, and children’s clothes. This makes it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for.

Grab a Sharpie and some white tape or labels to put prices on all your items. Try to find a reasonable amount for each item that leaves room in case customers want to haggle, but also isn’t so high that they’ll immediately leave.

Get your entire inventory organized the day or night before your sale so that’s out of the way. You don’t want to end up scrambling to do it at the last minute.

Sale Day

The nice thing about all this planning is that sale day is going to seem like a breeze in comparison to the work you’ve already done. Start getting ready about an hour before your sale so you can make sure everything is good to go. Then, it’s just a matter of waiting for customers.

Get comfortable since you’re going to be there awhile. Make sure that you have a good view of people walking over so you can greet them right away. After that, let them look around. If they want to chat or ask you something, they’ll let you know.

Some customers are going to haggle with you, as that’s inevitable when it comes to garage sales. Use your best judgment and factor in the amount of time left in the sale. If a customer is making you a reasonable offer that’s only slightly below what you wanted for the item, you should probably take it. If you wanted $20 and they’re offering you $5, it’s better to wait and see who will make you a better offer. However, when you’re close to the end of your sale, you should be more open to accepting lower offers so you don’t have too much leftover inventory.

Odds are that you will have some leftovers. The easiest thing to do is donate it, but for more valuable items, you can try listing them on Craigslist first.

Garage sales aren’t easy. They require a significant amount of preparation if you want to do it right, and then you’re spending six to eight hours making sales. If you’re going to hold one, plan it right so you can maximize how much you make.