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don’t just stand there booklet on a table of junk

Whether you know them as garage sales, yard sales, or tag sales, these events give your trash and unwanted items a chance at new life as another person’s treasure.

In honor of National Garage Sale Day the 2nd Saturday in August and the kickoff of The World’s Longest Yard Sale (check out 127 Yard Sale – http://www.127yardsale.com), I’ve put together this free printable checklist.

Organize the perfect garage sale with tips to ensure your stress is kept low, your spirits high, and your house empty – before, during, and after the event.


A pocketful of cash, a clutter-free home, and a lot of interaction between your stuff and passers-by all make yard sales hard to resist. Who hasn’t driven by a yard sale and wondered if there’s a too-good-to-be-true bargain hiding behind a used sewing machine, or if the perfect whatcha-ma-call-it at a to-die-for price is amidst all the other treasures?

Why have a garage sale?

We all want our homes to be clean and neat and to reflect who we are. A truly great home balances organization with comfort and style. Hosting a yard sale provides incentive to edit things from your house that no longer fit, work, come in handy, or relate to your lifestyle. Oh yes, and yard sales generate extra income. So, why not have a yard sale?

Choose the right day

  • Not every day is right for a yard sale. For example, don’t schedule your sale on a holiday weekend unless you live in a tourist town
  • The best months for sales are April, May, June and September
  • If possible, try to schedule your sale near the 1st or the 15th of the month because those are paydays for a lot of shoppers
  • Saturdays are best
  • Earlier in the day is better than later


Spread the word

  • Contact local authorities and inquire about restrictions, regulations, permits, etc. for posting signs and hosting sales
  • Let your neighbors know about your sale; if they don’t want strangers parking in front of their homes, place “no parking” signs where appropriate
  • Inquire about placing ads with various local newspapers. Ask how many words, how much it is going to cost, and how far in advance you need to submit the information
  • List a rain date or have an indoor back-up plan
  • Post signs at local grocery stores
  • Place ads on electronic bulletin boards
  • Distribute flyers in community centers
  • Use foam board rather than poster board for posting signs around the neighborhood

Advertise clearly

  • Who is involved in the sale: single family, neighbors, community?
  • What type of sale is it: yard, community, garage, moving, fire?
  • When is your sale: date(s) and day of the week, time from xx am – xx pm
  • Where is the sale: give clear directions from a major intersection
  • Why should people come? Make your ad stand out. Be creative with your wording and list a few “big ticket” items to draw interest.

Sample ad: Multi-family yard sale; designer-name maternity clothes, educational preschool toys, upscale infant gear, and much more. NO Checks. Saturday & Sunday April 3 -4; 8:30am –1pm. Rain date: Sat. April 10. EARLY BIRDS PAY DOUBLE! 555 Main Street across the boulevard from the community pool.

Sample ad: Retirement Sale; 60 years accumulation of antiques, furniture, power tools, appliances, gardening tools, house ware. Cash Only. Saturday; September 10; 7am – 3pm ONLY (Rain date: Sat. Sept. 17); 555 Main Street, 3 miles West of Rest Assured Retirement Center. NO early birds.


Gather the following supplies:

  • Tables for displaying items
  • Assortment of bags for people to take their items home: plastic store or grocery bags, gift bags, paper grocery bags, lunch bags
  • Packing boxes; store them under the display tables until needed
  • Bubble wrap and newspapers for fragile items or breakables
  • Tape to secure lids or keep stray pieces together
  • Permanent markers to change price signs throughout the day
  • Rubber bands to bundle silverware, spools of ribbon, etc.
  • Tape measure and yard stick
  • Calculators for adding up sales
  • Extension cords to plug in electrical items to show that they work
  • Spare light bulbs if selling lamps
  • Batteries for testing toys and small appliances

TIP: If you want to earn extra income buy extra batteries and sell them!

Remember these details

  • Have a trash can so people can dispose of their bottles and snack wrappers
  • Keep a large bottle of hand-sanitizing gel or wet naps to clean your hands
  • Leave enough room between tables for shoppers with strollers to browse
  • Don’t forget a roll of paper towels for spills and a box of tissues for sneezes
  • Lock the doors and windows of your home.

Price it right

  • Do not price every single item for sale. It is time-consuming and everyone is going to ‘bargain down’ the asking price anyway
  • Group similar items together on a table and price them all the same
  • Make categories and label them: Exercise and Fitness, Bed & Bath, Camping, Books & Media, etc.
  • Label the tables: $5.00-$10.00, $1.00 or less, or Best Offer – minimum $20.00, etc.
  • Price in 50 cent increments (easier to add)
  • Face the facts, everyone comes to a yard sale looking for a bargain – so give the people what they want and, remember, the main idea is to unload all your unwanted things – making money is almost secondary

Hang it up!

  • Make sure all clothes are pressed, clean, and hanging on hangers
  • Do not try to sell clothes that need mending, ironing, or stains removed
  • Group clothing according to sizes
  • Have a full-length mirror stationed somewhere convenient

Money matters

  • Before the sale day, go to the bank so you’ll have plenty of small bills on hand – between $50.00 and $75.00 in cash
  • If you really want to generate a buzz, ask the bank for $2.00 bills and silver dollars. Younger shoppers love “funny money”
  • Hip packs are a must for carrying cash. Do not leave a cash box unattended
  • Do not accept checks from strangers. A Cash Only rule is a good one – and take collected money inside your house periodically


  • A great way for an older child or teen to make a little extra cash is to sell coffee and donuts during the sale
  • Stock up at a warehouse-type store: sell mini-bottles of water, juice boxes, small packs of goldfish crackers and other parent-approved snacks for children in tow. Food and drinks will keep shoppers shopping longer


Do NOT bring the items that didn’t sell back into your home or garage. There are 3 options for leftovers that you must take care of immediately after your yard sale:

1. Put them into your car or van and drive them to the nearest donation center and obtain a tax credit for your donation.

2. Place them curbside with a sign that says, “FREE – Help Yourself!” Anything that remains after 2 days should be trashed.

3. Conduct a “Leftover Raffle.” Sell raffle tickets for $ 3.00. Draw names out of a hat. The winner gets anything and everything they want, and you make $3.00 per person on your leftovers!

Now your attic, garage, and home are clutter-free! You’ve gotten rid of your “trash” and some lucky person has discovered a “treasure!” Best of all, you now have some extra cash to treat your family to something special!

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