Realist Mom’s Garage Sale Tips (or, how not to have a garage sale induced anxiety attack)

28 Jun

First, let me apologize for being away for so long. Between my eldest’s elementary graduation and then getting her off to camp and the general insanity that comes with end of school/beginning of summer – let’s just say it’s been crazy here.

So – I had my garage sale. And it went really well. Yes, I made some money and cleared out a bunch of stuff that’s been taking up so much space in our home. Most importantly, I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. For those of us that really don’t enjoy having strangers sift through our belongings, that’s HUGE.

There are many many places on the internet that will give you all sorts of tips on how to prepare, organize and promote your garage sale. I looked at a lot of them. And they were all helpful. But. (Doesn’t Dr. Phil say that when you say “but” you negate everything that came before it? I think so. That’s not my intention.) I think there are some things that those articles don’t quite cover. For example, how DO you deal with the creepy guy strolling around your garage holding one sundae glass? For thirty minutes.

Allow me to present Realist Mom’s Garage Sale Tips:

1. Be ready to let the stuff go. This is important. If you’re not quite sure whether you’re ready to get rid of Aunt Fanny’s old skillet – do not put it out there. It will only make you crazy and upset. And you’ll secretly dislike anyone who even picks it up.

2. Do not, I repeat do not have a garage sale a few days before another momentous event in your life. Or just after. Going through my daughter’s baby and toddler clothes just before she graduated was a bad idea. I was sobbing into the Rubbermaid bins. It also took me twice as long to sort through things because I was hugging almost every garment. And, if you really must know, I snatched a pair of socks out of the hand of a woman who was preparing to buy them. What? They were Kitty’s favorite socks – see rule #1.

3. Some people suck. But most people do not. I met some really nice people who were reasonable and fair as we haggled over prices. Then there were a handful of people who I would have liked to smack upside the head. Here’s a tip for buyers – don’t talk smack about me when you’re standing in my garage. It’s not going to encourage me to sell you that worn-once $80 girl’s party dress for 50 cents. It will make me want to dump my coffee on your head, though. And yes, that really happened. Except for the coffee. And then this lovely specimen of humanity proceeded to yell at me as she pulled away from the curb. Okaaaaayy.

4. Know your bottom line. Know the least you’re willing to accept for an item. You may find that you’d rather donate an item then allow yourself to be pushed into selling it for next-to-nothing. My husband is an avid reader. That’s his treat to himself: books. So, we had a lot of really current, like new books at the sale. It turned out, I would rather donate those books to my library rather than sell them to the woman who advised me that “at garage sales, people sell their hardcovers for $1, not $3. (Insert look of disgust here.)” On the other hand, I was okay with going way down on the price of some of the kids’ clothing.

5. Do not let people push you around. This is sort of an addendum to my previous tip. People can be a little bananas. I think there are people who wear their aggressive bargaining skills like a badge of honor. My grandmother was like that. She would talk the grocery clerk into giving her two free packages of cookies instead of one on senior citizen day and then would brag about it the rest of the week. I could write pages on some of the tactics people tried to get better deals. Some were really effective, some less so and some – just plain offensive. Telling me you’re buying the clothes to help out a family on your street that doesn’t have much = effective. Trying to get me to lower a price because you’re not sure if the wall hanging will look good in your house = less effective. Trying to hide a more “expensive” item in your arms among a bunch of crap and then trying to get me to price the armload without mentioning the item I saw you pick up = offensive. If you need to brush up on your assertiveness, a garage sale is a great place to practice.

6. Have some friends available for moral support. I’m pretty sure I would not have gotten through it all without the support of some good friends who stayed with me and laughed with me. And brought me coffee.

7. Know that if worse comes to worse, you can always shut the garage doors and bring everything to Goodwill. I didn’t do that, but it was sort of comforting to know that was an option.

I hope I’m not forgetting anything.

What’s your best garage sale tip? What’s your most horrifying garage sale story? Please share it in the comments!

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90 Responses to “Realist Mom’s Garage Sale Tips (or, how not to have a garage sale induced anxiety attack)”

  1. Whatcha Find? July 6, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    Great guide! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  2. chancy717 July 6, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Don’t forget: use some of the money you earn from the garage sale to buy yourself a nice treat. Having a garage sale is exhausting, and everyone deserves a sweet treat afterwards for all of their hard work!

  3. fornormalstepfathers July 6, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Getting moral support is a good idea. The last (and only) garage sale we had, was turned into a neighborhood party – while we were enjoying our beers and chatting at the end of the day, we sold more than during the whole day πŸ™‚

  4. Things You Realize After You Get Married July 6, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Great list and tips! I often donate my stuff to Value Village precisely b/c of #3! πŸ˜‰

  5. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife July 6, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Good tips, I think all of us who have been a part of this scene can relate. I too would rather just donate some items then sell them to a person just looking to brag about a good haggle.

  6. Mikalee Byerman July 6, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    First off: I’m having a garage sale in a few weeks. Second: I get frequent panic attacks in my current, crazy, made-for-TV-movie-inspired life. So you can only IMAGINE how grateful I am for this advice…thank you!


    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      Thanks for all your comments! I can totally understand where you’re coming from – I’m glad my post is a help!

  7. rebekahmeinecke July 6, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    So…how DID you deal with the creepy guy in the garage? Hilarious post!

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

      He finally surrendered the sundae cup and bought a small piece of fabric. Apparently, there will be no ice cream, but maybe a new skirt?? Bananas! Thanks for commenting and reading!

  8. Hiit July 6, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Nice list! I hate pushy people that want to pay almost nothing..
    and congrats!

  9. Kathryn McCullough July 6, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Damn–I wish I had had these tips a few weeks ago–before we had out less-than-stellar, darn-near-disastrous garage sale. Yes, I’m sane–but barely—————–

    And congrats on FP-ed!


  10. Laurie Fields July 6, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    If you’re having a yard sale, don’t throw your stuff on the ground and expect people to root through it. Nothing says “I don’t care” like a littered yard.
    If the clothes have holes and stains, don’t put them in the sale.
    Wash all clothes before putting them in the sale.
    Certain items don’t belong in yard sales: underwear, bras, socks are just a few.
    Don’t charge retail for used clothing.

    For those hosting the sale, beware of sign switchers.

  11. banbamama July 6, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Garage sales are not a done thing here in Ireland, most of us sell things on-line. They sound stressful if you don’t know what you are doing. We have jumble-sales which are more community involved and everyone pitches in. I was at one recently in a parish hall for baby clothes, toys etc. and it was a huge hit. I sold some things and even made a profit! It was a bit overwhelming with people sifting through my belongings. But in the end it was worth it because I got to buy some really cool toys for the kids out of the money I made. Sounds like you had a really cool sale. Congrats on being freshly pressed! Hopefully, you can relax a little now!

  12. The Outlaw Mom July 6, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Great tips – I didn’t even think about some of them! Will keep them in mind for the garage sale I’m planning this summer (which I’m not sure will even happen because I don’t want to give away all our stuff!) πŸ™‚

  13. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide July 6, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Great tips. We had a yard sale before we moved cross country and it was amazing how people wanted to haggle over ridiculously low prices. Most people were cool and haggling is fine, we do it. But a whole box of anything for 10 cents that sort of stuff….

  14. Jason July 6, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Given the common attitude amongst garage sale “shoppers”, I don’t think I’ll ever have the nerve to hold a sale of my own. I don’t think I could bear to have someone haggling so ruthlessly with me. I felt my adrenaline simmering just by reading your accounts of just a few nasty customers.

    I guess this is owing to the fact that I NEVER haggle over prices when I shop at a garage sale. Not only am I skittish about confrontation with strangers, I find that most people who are selling their belongings have already gone to the trouble of deciding what an item is worth and it’s almost always priced reasonably as it is. If I suspect that the price is too high, I move on… apparently I don’t need the item that badly.

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

      I was you a few weeks ago – before my sale. (I still suck at haggling!) I’m still not entirely reformed. BTW, your blog is beautiful – just added it to my reader. I may have to try one of those strawberry recipes!

      • Jason July 7, 2011 at 9:25 am #

        Thanks for the lovely blog compliment.

        I should mention that I’ve enjoyed yours, too, having recently read the tale of your “most embarrassing moment”. I was wide-eyed as I read it, slowly bringing back to my own memory the time that I was stranded in the swamps of South Louisiana with my grandfather. To make a long story short, I learned another use for Spanish moss! Moments like those — where you get so up close and personal with nature — you just don’t forget them (no matter how hard you may try). πŸ˜€

  15. thelaughingmom July 6, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    I just wrote a blog post on my first garage sale as well. #6 is very important. My girlfriends and I were texting each other the whole time. Quite the comedic relief. My best garage sale tip is to sit very close to the beer fridge in case you need to take the edge off in order to provide customer service with a smile to your average garage sale troller. Most horrifying would be the dog who peed in my showroom (a.k.a. the garage floor) and being called a grandma – I was finally able to part with my 7 year-old’s baby items and a shopper said, “looks like grandma has a lot of baby things.” Glad you survived. And, the big question, “will you do it again?”

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

      Again? Hmmm. Let’s see – the one before this was in 2001 – so maybe in another 10 years! Thanks for clicking on over!

  16. aunaqui July 6, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    I really, really enjoyed this! I like your sense of humor and I really like the practicality of the scenario. We’ve all been there.

    “If you need to brush up on your assertiveness, a garage sale is a great place to practice.”

    I appreciated that.

    My “horror” (more like, stupid) garage-sale story:

    I coveted my great aunt’s old, crummy guitar since I was four years old. When I turned ten, she gave it to me! I strummed on it for five seconds, dumped it into my closet, and when the family decided to put on a garage sale weeks later, I sold it for ten bucks and went to McDonalds. Seriously..

    I didn’t realize then, as a ten year old, that the value of the guitar wasn’t so much the guitar itself, as it was the one who gave it to me – also, how OLD it was.. guessing centuries?

    Aun Aqui

  17. Over 50s Dating July 6, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    This is so true. It’s a bit like car boot sales, and the most of the same advice applies.

    People who come to your stall vary from the friendly and chatty to those who can’t string a coherent sentence together and who seemed to have left their manners at home.

  18. I Made You A Mixtape July 6, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I love garage sales! When I lived in the US i used to go all the time- you find some excellent stuff in those.. but unfortunately the tradition has not caught on here in the UK… I don’t know why… maybe its the insult we call weather here…

  19. sportsjim81 July 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Great Post! It’s that time of year for garage sales and my neighborhood is crawling with them. I can’t walk down the street without tripping over someone’s “gently used” eliptical machine. Anyway, great ideas here and I really enjoyed it! Congrats on FP as well. I’ve been there and it’s quite a ride!

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

      Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment – I really appreciate it. And if you’re looking for a used elliptical machine…. πŸ˜‰

  20. scandalousmuffin July 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    I opened a garage sale at 9 once, but I had a crazy garage sale-junkie come at 8 and talk for like an hour about other garage sales.

    He bought a pair on binoculars. “I can use these… to see more garage sales!”

    The guy had the advice to open at 7 so scavengers like him can come. Not sure if this story makes that advice worth it.

  21. Eva McCane July 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    i get some sort of sick joy from garage sales. i’m kind of a neat freak, and i don’t hoard at all, so i think the joy induced by emptying my closets and ridding myself of clutter over powers any anxiety πŸ™‚

  22. pezcita July 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Any advice about picnics? I’m finding out they can be major stressers too!

  23. Redneckprincess July 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Hahaha, exactly why I DON’T have a garage sale, inevitable I will have to, but I am not good with people being jerks, especially if they are on my property πŸ™‚ congrats on being freshly pressed!!

  24. Cath July 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    A couple of years ago, I dared to have a yard sale. Halfway through it, a crazy woman arrived. She didn’t even look at my stuff. She just walked over to me and started asking me about the big tree in my yard, while standing perilously close to my cash box, which I then picked up and cradled in my arms.

    “It’s a pear tree,” I kindly told her.

    “No, there are no pears. It’s not a pear tree,” she immediately berated and belittled me.
    [Yep, lady… that’s the way to get a good customer service experience out of me. Not.]

    But it was then that I began realizing this line of questioning-and-complaining was possibly meant to divert my attention from her cohort who was rifling through my sale items, and potentially pocketing them away without actually paying for them.

    So I began to watch the cohort with an eagle eye, thereby not making eye contact with the woman who was arguing about my tree — as well as other items I had available for public viewing. The less I paid attention to her, the louder and more offensive her voice and commentary became. And, much to my dismay, this went on for several minutes longer than it should have. (I was pondering picking up the phone and threatening to have her removed by the police, but….) Meanwhile, her attitude was turning away other potential customers who didn’t want to deal with such craziness themselves. I wished I was as free as they were to walk away from it.

    I haven’t had a yard sale ever since, but… desperately need to! I think your idea about gathering up some friends to support me in my moments of yard-sale need is a good one. πŸ˜‰

    Sigh. It really shouldn’t be this difficult to share one’s no-longer-needed items with others.

    One funny moment: If you recall a yard-sale shopper skit on MadTV (“Lorraine”) a few years back… I did have a shopper exactly like that lady show up. Hilarious. A little annoying, but hilarious.

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

      Wow – fortunately I managed to avoid that (as far as I know – I didn’t take inventory!) Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  25. skippitydo July 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Great post! I just had a garage sale this past weekend and wrote about it, quite the exprience in itself, add someone hanging a bright pink bra from my sign, and lets just say the guy walking around with the sundae glass for thrity minutes would have been a refreshing customer for me! πŸ˜‰

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      Yikes – your garage sale sounds a bit more…raucous than mine! Glad you survived! And thanks for reading and commenting!

  26. Renee July 6, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    I remember when we had to sell the farm and the majority of its contents due to my mom being very sick – a real emotional time and then added multiple weekend garage sales to the mix. I wish my parents would have done an estate sale or an auction. There was some humor though too when my dad decided to burn the ugly couch and some tires that did not sell in the back field and a neighbor called the Sheriff and local Fire Department – had a good laugh until my dad was handed a hefty citation. I am glad to hear you had a good garage sale experience with a few exceptions. Congrats on being FP!

  27. gaycarboys July 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Wise words. I loved no. 2 Some People Suck LOL. Aint that the truth?!?!?!

  28. dressingmyself July 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    My tip is to have the garage sale at a venue that isn’t your house. My Wonderful Husband has in the past rented a hall, invited friends to also sell their stuff, and had a sale of our unwanted stuff.
    Having strangers in my garden/garage/even drive is just too much for me.

    • Tattoos, love and lunacy... July 7, 2011 at 7:35 am #

      Agree with her! I brought all of my unwanteds to a friend’s house last summer for a yard sale. We got the early birds (like reeeeally early), the hagglers (“FIFTY cents for this shirt? Forget it!”), and the creepers. Like really dude? That sugar bowl is a buck, either shit or get off the pot! haha – Loved your story and congrats on being FP!

  29. badbunni July 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Also, if you live anywhere in southern California, you MUST have at least one person who is fluent in Spanish. In my area, a lot of Latinos go to garage sales, and depending on which socioeconomic status they’re in, they’ll often try to bargain on something that’s already pocket change (.50 cents) to get it for FREE. Seriously -_- You lose A LOT of profit when that happens…

    I would try Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads Trading for clothes, but they’re VERY picky on what they’ll buy, and they often only give you 35% cash for the value of your clothes.

  30. Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Thank you to everyone who has commented – I plan on checking out each of your blogs tonight when the excitement of being Freshly Pressed wears off a little!

  31. trialsinfood July 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    i will use your tips for my first garage sale. but first, i have to get a garage. =)

  32. She.Is.Just.A.Rat July 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    I once sold my car at a garage sale for parts. I think I got about $100 for it. I’ve recently moved to the Canadian arctic, and garage sales are insanity up here. People LOVE them and LIVE for them. In the winter, homeowners basically leave their front door unlocked, cover up anything that ISN’T for sale, and people just swarm through and buy buy buy. It’s amazing…

  33. maraschinoevents July 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Thank you for posting this! πŸ™‚ I’m currently organizing a neighborhood-wide garage sale, and these are good tips!

  34. lovingmissliz7304 July 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    My sister once had a three legged clock stolen (we think it was the lady with the big purse). We had two ladies fighting over a lady-shaped perfume bottle that one saw first, but one picked up first (and neither of them bought). And a lady got my mom to take money off a set of dishes (in the box) because she was going to have to buy cups that didn’t come with it, then the same lady asked for help to her car, and my sister loaded her new dishes into her Cadilac!

  35. Az. Small Business Network July 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Personnaly I love have yard sales, we always have a blast. Invite the whole neighborhood and make it a party! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  36. An Embarrassment of Freedom July 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    My late mother was the queen of running garage sales. She really enjoyed having strangers and neighbours come by as she lived alone on a farm. She set up under a protected carport area and just waited. We would sit with her, bring her food and tea but she would run the sale for a week at a time so we couldn’t always be with her. She had her last sale when she was 92 years old, She handled the obnoxious people by hiking up prices and often she just gave stuff away to people she liked, any money she made she would buy a new dressy item for herself as a little splurge. She never splurged otherwise.

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      That’s a great story about your mom – she sounds like she was a lovely woman.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  37. buymelovestore July 6, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Haha! Great post. I don’t have anxiety about garage sales because I’ve been a part of so many of them now, but I can see how they would be panic-attack inducing (since I have those.)

    Honestly, I probably wouldn’t pay $3 for just any old hardback book, and I’d probably ask for a deal if I wanted several of them (I love books!) but I wouldn’t suggest that your pricing was inferior to other garage salers. Yeesh. And the lady who yelled at you? I’m not sure where you live, but most people would be afraid a Texan would smile and politely excuse themselves to go fetch the shotgun if they dared to be so rude. We’re kind of maniacs when it comes to manners.

    My favorite part of having a garage sale is the people. You get all kinds, most of them great! We had one guy insist on serenading us with his banjo. It was creepy and fantastic all at the same time. Of course, we’ve also had people pretend that they don’t speak English in an attempt to get us to come down on prices. It’s great if they’re Spanish-speaking, though, because I can always respond in Spanish instead of English!

    Sounds like you made it through just fine, though! Good job!

  38. pennypincher3000 July 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    I just had a yard sale last Saturday and experienced a lot of 3 & 4 situations. We’re doing it again this weekened and are prepared for them all!! Great post!

  39. ournote2self July 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Great tips. We had a garage sale a couple weeks ago and we had someone steal our vacuum. Can you believe that?! A vacuum, that we were selling for next to nothing, she felt necessary to walk away with without paying. When confronted she of course lied and said she did pay, as she continued walking to her car…with my vacuum! Some people’s children!

  40. SR July 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Yeah…helped my mother-in-law do a sale once. It was my first ever garage sale experience. She explained to me how there are antique scavengers out there that pay several visits, if not many, to the same garage sale, expecting to see the pieces they want go down in price every time they come back. Sure enough, I noticed several people who came, left, came and then left, came a third time, and then left finally. Amazing!!

    Also, there was this scary lady who spent several hours at the sale and kept coming up to my mother-in-law demanding she reduce the price on a particular item. Of course, my mother-in-law didn’t budge on the price. But oh my God, some of these people are nuts!

    Very interesting experience.

  41. shade tree photographer July 6, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    Good story. Here is my tragic yard sale story. I used to collect NASCAR driver cards. Why? I don’t know…it was 20 years ago. I stopped watching it altogether after I came to my senses. Point is, these series of cards were the highly collectable variety. Several sets of gold foil and special edition with other neat features. A lady came to my yard sale and when I was tending to the others she went through each set and picked out all of the Dale Earnhardt ones. He had just recently passed so they brought a good price I guess.
    Anyway, I guy came up an hour later, looked through the sets and told me the Earnhardt cards are gone! I don’t know if they worked together or what. I sold the sets for $25 a set. Moral: WATCH EVERYONE!

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

      You gotta watch those Grannies!! : )

  42. Jackie Paulson Author July 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    I was setting up my sale the night before from 5-8pm on a Thursday. No signs up yet. I had sold over 300.00! Sale was fri, sat sunday only but that extra day helped build my cash fast. πŸ™‚

  43. Damian Trasler July 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    So cool. I would add (though it may not have been relevant to you) “Don’t put out your kid’s toys for sale unless they are SURE they can live without them.” In our “pre-Canada move out” sale, we had our Tiniest Weasel come outside with her pocket money to buy back a toy she suddenly decided was vital to her survival. To be fair, I did give her an excellent discount on the ticket price….

  44. moanti (moeΒ·onΒ·tee) July 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    This was a very entertaining post! It brought to mind when I lived in my first apartment and had our very first garage sale which almost ended in my landlord losing all of his underwear! Our garage had the only washer/dryer and so it was shared by our whole small complex. The night before our garage sale, “Mr. Smith” did his laundry but left about 10 pairs of tighty whities on top of the dryer, in which my friend (who “helped” with the garage sale) proceeded to price and put out in a box of used clothing! Luckily there were no takers before we noticed her mistake, but I can imagine that my landlord would have been quite dismayed if we had sold all of his underwear!

  45. GFanthome July 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Another thing that kinda bothered me about having a garage sale were the rude people who’d come by before you were even up, or when you were getting ready and wanted to have first crack at going through what you were selling. It doesn’t seem to matter what start time you put on your signs – these people can be quite rude and obnoxious to you. If you have an actual garage, put everything in there the night before and then open the door at the time you want. Another tip is to put a sign on your front door that says no early birds.

  46. heidihappened July 6, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Congrats on FP! Enjoyed your post. We recently had a garage sale. I promised myself to make enough money to pay for the new a/c we just bought. I actually earned enough in 2 days to pay for it and a 2nd one too! And yes, I had the woman that was truly malodorous and purchased nothing after staying 45 mins, the thieves that try to distract you while the other pockets items and a bizillion men hunting for tools ( which I did not have). But I met many new neighbors, many dog lovers, German speaking grandmas ( I love a chance to speak German), neighbors I hadn’t seen in ages and more. I was pooped but with the help of my family and next door neighbor had a good time. Now I have to get rid of all the leftovers that are still sitting in my living room 3 weeks later! Salvation army here we come….

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

      Thanks! Should I post a picture of the current condition of the garage so you’ll know you’re not alone? : )

  47. littlerabbitgirl July 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    I can relate to this so bad. At garage sales people seem to want everything for 0.20cents, its really insane ,they are like rabbid dogs. A word of advice there are people that go round to garage sales with thick wads of money, happily flashing it about and want to offer you peanuts for an item… I’m pretty sure these people run second hand stores.

    If I were to do it again, Put a massive sign up that says prices are non-negotiable, items are already cheap.

    Thanks for the chuckle!

  48. Purple Pixie in Dixie July 6, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Great advice! I love shopping at garage sales and have hosted several of my own over the years (I’m constantly acquiring more crap and have to have sales to maintain some balance). I don’t usually make as much profit as all the effort is worth, but it’s fun and worth it all the same. I’m glad it worked out for you. Congrats on FP!

  49. jodie July 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    This post is absolutely brilliant. I live in a condo so you cannot have a garage sale. I tried one time and the condo board and their proxies descended like storm troopers. I was threatened with a fine, eviction, a citizen arrest…the usual. However, they did like some of my stuff.

  50. Paprika Furstenburg July 6, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    To make our garage sales more interesting each of us who brings merchandise to the sale selects a “clunker item.” This is an item so hideous we believe no one will purchase it. Throughout the day we watch the shoppers to see if anyone selects any of the designated clunker items. When one is purchased, the person who declared it as their clunker item wins a prize – usually a gift card for coffee or a movie ticket. Buying the gift cards can eat into your profits a bit but it sure makes the garage sale a lot more fun.

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

      Oh there was a clunker all right – my friend brought over – how do I do this justice? – a 3D wall hanging that came from her late Aunt’s home. It was about 3′ tall, with an “antique gold” finish and featured a woman carrying a bowl of fruit in relief. It sold, to a woman with a leopard print bra showing from beneath her bright yellow skin tight top. Clearly, Fruit Lady found a kindred tacky spirit!

      • Paprika Furstenburg July 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

        Wow! Great clunker item with an equally tacky buyer – truly a garage sale bonanza! Thanks for sharing.

  51. eva626 July 6, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    great tips! i cant wait to have my first garage sale one day

  52. Kim July 6, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    Someday I’m going to get the nerve up to have a garage sale… someday.

  53. Sarah D. July 6, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Really good advice. I had a yard sale because I was moving several years ago, and it still bugs me that I let things go for so very little. I simply wasn’t prepared to bargain and felt bad when people told me that jewelry should be super-cheap at a garage sale, ditto book cases, flatware, china, clothes and numerous other things. I was selling a lot of good stuff in perfect condition because I needed the money.

    What I feel much worse about is when I advertised a good set of china in a local paper. A dealer (I later confirmed this) came by and didn’t want the set, but casually asked about a teacup nearby. So I sold her my grandmother’s exquisite black teacup with gold interior for 10 bucks. I should have woken up when she offered that much right off the bat. Ah, well. I hate to bargain, far prefer just to know a price and decide whether or not to pay it!

  54. Mrs.Idiot July 7, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    Secretly wishes she could sell the ex’s crap he’s storing here until the divorce is final, hee hee!

  55. Auspicious Wedding Dates July 7, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    Know your bottom line works best for me πŸ™‚

  56. myfilthyroom July 7, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    kinda reminds me of clean house.. πŸ˜€

  57. be awake July 7, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    geat blog! we should find an opportunity to be creative everywhere and everywhen we are πŸ™‚

  58. Richa July 7, 2011 at 5:05 am #


  59. Dads Taxi July 7, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    Loved your tips! As a Dad who goes to endless Garage Sales, I have to admit that I’m embarassed at times to bargain down items. It’s a hard task to have a sale, but it’s a rite of passage when you need to clean out of your house of accumulated junk.. so thanks for these tips!

  60. saramitchell July 7, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    At our yard sale one woman picked up an item that we wanted $3 for because it was a brand new, expensive cooler. She told us she was only giving us 25 cents for it. We were too weak to deny her, so then she starts walking around saying, “I’ve got another 75 cents so I need to get 3 more things.” And so she just picked up 3 random items and was like “I’ll take these,” without even checking the price, then just tossed the money and left. It all was so ridiculous and happened so fast that we couldn’t believe it. We were SO mad as she was rolling away!!!

  61. Tattoos, love and lunacy... July 7, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    Oh and once (before I had a house) I decided to have an indoor “garage” sale (I was moving to FL and had to get rid of a lot of stuff quick). Luckily, I lived in a sort of sketchy part of Providence, so I just put up a neon poster board telling people to ring the buzzer and come in…probably not the safest idea, but it definitely worked. People bought everything – right down to the bathroom trashcan, which had trash in it. I literally had to dump the trash out right in front of the lady. Crazy!

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 7, 2011 at 7:45 am #

      First – I love the hat and your blog – hilarious! Second, I went to school in Providence at PC – what a great city. The early people drove me nuts – my dogs were going bananas! Thanks for taking the time to comment and visit!

  62. wordsbyirma July 7, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Great read, as I’m contenplating to have one this summer:) It is tuff to work with serious hagglers. One lady picked up a tank top ( brand new) haggled it down to 50c , and then loaded all of them on her arm, something like 8 of them. ( My daughter was a shop-a-holic when she was younger.) The same lady showed up next year and got my $50 drapers fioor $1. I was so furious about my lack of assertibeness that I have not had one for a few years.
    Great read!

  63. departingdysfunctionjunction July 7, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Congrats on becoming Freshly Pressed!

    We once had a garage sale & this weird old guy came and bought one of our many ugly lamps. He wandered away muttering to himself. About an hour later he came back with a different ugly lamp and asked my mom to buy it from him. She did only because she wanted him to go away. He came back a third time with another lamp he wanted to sell us, but then she sent him on his way. Truly crazy! And funny.
    You see all types at garage sales.
    I guess the one thing I would stress is that garage sale customer service does equal retail customer service. I mean really, why should I HAVE to deal with anyone’s BS?
    In our area we have large consignment sales and most moms in the area price and haul their stuff to one location for a weekend sale. On the 3rd day items are half price. Whatever doesn’t sell can be donated or you can come and pick it up. I sold toys this way last spring. It was great and I probably made more than I would have in 3 days in my garage. I will do it again if necessary or I will just donate stuff to GoodWill.

  64. huffygirl July 7, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    Great tips. I’m planning garage sale for my parent’s estate, and am absolutely dreading it, for all the reasons you’ve cited above.

  65. munira July 7, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, really enjoyed reading it and am glad you survived okay!

  66. londonchoirgirl July 7, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    In London we have car boot sales. Same principle, but you sell stuff out of the back of your car instead. At some sites, you get keen buyers rummaging through your boxes before you’ve even managed to get them off the back seat…

  67. meadowandfarm July 7, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Great garage sale tips! Best ever. My horror story is the gentleman who sifted through all my pounds and pounds of stuff and then bought safety pins, haggled about them until I gave them to him for 20 cents!

  68. Posky July 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    I once watched a woman get called a racist because she wouldn’t go down on the price. She followed rules four and five to the letter. I think she even called the other person a “scum-bag.”

    Still, asking ten dollars for a used tea pot might have been a bit steep.

  69. Lonnie July 11, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Good post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    We had our first yard sale (and probably our last) this past Saturday. We did good for a first try and for getting the idea in our heads on a Thursday for a Saturday sale. We posted on Craigslist and put up signs but all the other sales seemed to be on the other side of town.

    One thing I learned is that it is helpful to have a good location in an area that is known for yard/garage sales or you need to have several families do it at the same time. Folks don’t seem to want to travel a distance for one sale.

    Everything that didn’t sell was promptly loaded into the car and donated to the thrift store.

  70. Eirien July 12, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Oh dear, sounds like you had a very interesting experience!

    #3 is one reason why I probably won’t ever host a garage sale. I don’t know how I’d feel if I thought I saw someone pocket something. I’d rather give stuff away to friends or little charities anyway as I know the item has a better chance of being loved and used.

    I do like to barter on occasion. It’s a fun skill to practice and can make a purchased item feel more alive. Though I do this at big stores or food markets rather than garage sales – I couldn’t take to bartering with someone over their memory-filled possessions. It just feels…inappropriate.

    Like a person above suggested, it’s good to have a few signs stating what you will and will not accept at the sale (like ‘no early birds’ or ‘prices are final’). Perhaps a “Sorry, we’re closed!” sign will help too, to stop those late-comers who think they can squeeze in (and straggle for an hour) when you’re really trying to just close up.

    Take care and good luck with your future sales!

    • Eirien July 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

      Err, and when I said barter I meant haggling* in this case. Though sometimes I can get away with bartering if it’s an art trade. πŸ˜€

  71. theexperfectionist July 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Okay, okay. While I would pay $3 for a really good hardback…some people do price their stuff way to high. For example I went to a yard sale that had some dollar store items and were asking a $1. Come on people. That’s worth like a quarter. Cute post. πŸ˜€

  72. realanonymousgirl2011 July 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    I totally agree! Sometimes you sell things for 25 cents and someone wants it for 10 cents! Really? Where are you gonna buy something for 25 cents?! You can’t even buy a piece of candy for that price. I’m with you on just donating it, at least you know its going to someone who will appreciate it!


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