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Garage Sale Tales

Combining two lives creates a lot of.... stuff.  After a year of living together we realized we could stand to part with a lot of the things we rarely use or have duplicates of.  What's one to do in such a situation??  GARAGE SALE!

I have always loved going to garage sales and remember helping out my Grandma Kennedy at many of her sales growing up, but I had never organized my own, and neither had Mike, so I was a bit nervous abut it all.  So I did a little research.... In addition to going to a lot of garage sales this spring and summer for fabulous finds ideas, I asked my friend Tammy, who has at least two sales a year for her best garage sale tips.  She thankfully supplied them and now I get to share them with you!

1.  Sinage is key. Many people give up on sales before they even get there because they can't find it!

2.  Organize and size all your clothes.  Hang as many clothes as you can.

3.  Use masking tape to write the price on items.  Those stickers you can buy just fall off or leave sticky residue.

4. Ask if any neighbors want to have a sale at the same time.  It can bring more traffic for your sale.

5.  Have cute dudes hanging around to talk people into buying things :)

6.  Organize, organize,and then organize some more.  The better stuff is displayed the better it sells.

7.  Sell soda for 50 cents to cover the add in the paper.

We followed most of Tammy's suggestions and although neither Mike nor I have had a previous sale to compare to, we were pleased with the turnout of people and amount of stuff we sold.  We had originally planned to have the sale on Labor Day weekend, but found out that our neighborhood has a joint sale once a year where houses within 24 blocks around us all have sales the same weekend and provide maps to each of the sales.  Extra traffic?  Yes please!  With the date delayed a few weeks, but decided, we put out the word with a bunch of our friends, and ended up with a multi-family sale for even more stuff to advertise and sell!  Because of being on a corner and having the publicity from the neighborhood scene, we didn't actually have to post a single sign!  We did put an add up on Craigslist though, listing all of the categories of items we'd be selling and the corner we live on.

We had two tables full of baby clothes arranged by size and gender, two rods of hanging clothes, a couch full of folded sweaters, sweatshirts and pants, and even utilized the fence to hang purses.  I had put all of the clothes on hangers before the day of the sale, so we just had to move them from stacks on the porch to a rod suspended from the fence on one end and a ladder on the other.  Two ladders would work well, but we only had one, so we put the fence to work!

We priced the clothes with a sign (all T-shirts $1, sweaters and sweatshirts $4, pants $3, etc) and then individually priced all other items, using masking tape and writing both the price and the initials of the person selling it on the tape.  When ringing up customers, we simply took the sticker off the item and added it to a column of whomever initials were on it.  Keeping track of who got how much money was the trickiest part of adding things up, but our main ringer Shanna had it down to an art by the end of the day!

There were more than twenty neighbors who had sales on the same day as us!  Being on a corner, we had a particularly large amount of traffic, which was great!  The neighborhood association provided maps with all the sales going on listed, which we passed out to customers knowing that our neighbors were similarly sending others our way.

With all of our hot husbands hanging around checking in on us, working on the yard, painting radiators and spreading their cute dude cheer, we definitely followed Tammy's fifth tip!

It was a stressful first hour trying to bring everything out for the sale from the garage and porch where we had it priced and waiting.  We were low on tables right away and had to use a few big boxes to lay out some baby clothes.  Reinforcement tables came after about an hour (along with some more baby items) from more friends contributing and throughout the day as people bought things, we were able to continually organize and spread things out to look less cluttered and more appealing for purchase.

30 word/second rant:  People are crazy!  Although both the neighborhood fliers and the Craigslist add said everything opened at 8, there were people out by our garage at 7:15/7:30 poking around and looking at everything as we frantically took trip after trip from the house to the driveway.  We continually had to tell people that we weren't open until 8, but that didn't stop them from pawing everything and asking if we had anything else we were bringing out.  We had the sale in our driveway, but did need to open the garage to get some furniture items out.  A few people ended up wandering in there and poking around the stuff we didn't want to sell (bikes, tools, etc.) which was really unnerving!  People are crazy!  Ok, rant over...

We followed Tammy's last tip by selling both soda and water at our sale.  Mike and I have made it a habit of not drinking soda, but we always have some around the house to offer friends and especially basement volunteers.  So, knowing anything leftover would eventually be consumed, I bought a variety of soda and although we didn't sell it all, we made enough money to pay for the extra we'll be giving away to guests!

Although I was being ruthless in scouring our house for unnecessary things, I couldn't help but find a need for a few of my friend's items they were selling.  Throughout the day I kept subtracting from our column and adding to theirs!  Here are some of the things I HAD to have: a set of battery operated lights, a scarf, a travel toiletry bag that hangs, jeans for Mike, and this cute squirrel tea light holder which I thought would be a perfect gag gift.

Once our sale was underway and our column of sales in the positive, I took the opportunity to peruse some other sales in the area.  Am I glad I did!  I found a palm sander for Mike since his recently broke, a few toys for work, a rice cooker that the sellers swore wouldn't boil over like the last one I tried, and my favorite find: classic black skates for a little boy.  Is this an announcement?  No, no baby bump, I'm going to use them as Christmas decor!  I'm thinking they'll look great on a wreath, hanging somewhere or even under the tree.  Ikea has Christmas stuff out already, so I'm getting in the mood for snow and carols!

Part of the fun of having a neighborhood sale is seeing all your neighbors out and about.  We got to say hi to a few and even met some new neighbors.  Some of our favorite kids from down the street stopped by and played for a while.  What do you do with a robot arm?  Pinch your bother's butt, of course!

Two of our friends just got married a few months ago and the groom decided it was time to sell some of his toys.  His wife swears she didn't force him to do it!  Here he is showing a neighbor how some of his toys work.

All of the families at our sale made out pretty well; we ended with over $200 (yay spending money!)  An even better outcome of the garage sale than our profit (and our purchases for the day) was the excitement of attracting an interested buyer of the Hammond B3 organ that Mike has been trying to sell since we got engaged!  We're hoping it will lead to some extra cash and more room in the living room!  But in the meantime, we're grateful for a full day of hanging out with friends, beautiful weather, and a less cluttered house. :)



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  1. Ok first of all, I have a squirrel tea light candle holder too. It was my great grandma’s. Too funny! Second, I so wish I could have gone to your garage sale! It looks like you had some good stuff. And finally, those are some most excellent tips. I used to help my grandma with her annual garage sale too, but I’ve never had my own. Rob and I have enough stuff that we want to get rid of, so maybe we should consider one. Good post!

    • We should have invited you, it would have been fun to meet in person too! We didn’t post it on the blog beforehand because we didn’t want to post our address, ya know?
      Looks like we’re squirrel tea candle friends now.

  2. I love garage sales. Loving that the weather has been so nice this fall in MN. That means an extended garage sale season. And more treasure hunting for me!

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