Garage Sales: 'Tis the Season


Garage Sales are part of our culture and as sure as the trees leaf out each spring, you can count on garage sales popping up in abundance in a neighborhood near you.

It’s a way to clean things out and make a little cash, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For those who enjoy spending time leap frogging from sale to sale, it’s a treasure hunt with the occasional victory.

I have spent quite a few hours over the last several months working with clients on garage sales. This is part of my repertoire, but until recently, I have not had much demand for the service. Not long ago, out of the blue, I got two requests within days of each other to help with sales.

The two sales couldn’t have been more different. One was small; a woman helping her mother (moving into a retirement village) downsize. The other was massive; a lifetime of stuff and a four bay commercial garage was needed to hold everything! One sale netted $250 and the other $7,000.

Both clients were most interested in getting help with pricing items. How much should they, or could they, charge for mom’s china, an old clock radio, a vintage poster, or an overused blender?

Based on my recent immersion into garage sale pricing (I have probably priced over 2,000 items in the last month) I have a couple of thoughts when it comes to deciding what to charge.

  • It’s not worth what you paid for it – or even worth half of what you paid for it – so price it accordingly;
  • If you really want to sell it, then price it to sell – if not, put it back in the house;
  • Don’t price it high and expect people to barter– they’ll look at the high price and walk away. Be fair with your price and be realistic when you barter;
  • Put a price on EVERYTHING. It will sell faster and you will get your asking price more often;
  • Be reasonable; this is stuff you don’t want and someone else might – don’t get prideful and stubborn when they ask if you’ll take less.

If you are planning to have one of these summer events, here is my unsolicited advice:

  • Recognize that it will suck the life out of you preparing, pricing, and selling
  • Don’t expect to get rich
  • Have a donation pick-up scheduled for the day after to get rid of everything that didn’t sell
  • When you say, “I’ll never do this again,” mean it!

So, if you have a garage sale in your future, keep one thing in mind: try to have some fun and when it’s all over use some of the money to treat yourself to dinner out - you will have earned it.


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