Garage Sale pet peeves and tips

My in-laws, the hubs and me held our annual fundraiser garage sale over the weekend. We were exhausted beyond belief.  All of the items were donated to us from friends and family & most of them already marked from previous sales.  When it was all said and done, we raised over $1,300 for our scholarship fund and were able to donate 2 truckloads of nice items to Goodwill. 

The garage sale was massive.  It filled the entire garage and then my in-laws driveway which is long enough to fit 6-7 cars.  We had everything, cupboards, skies, stove, clothes, shoes, books, shelves, furniture. Everything but the kitchen sink was stashed away in 3 garages until the set-up day.   Anyway, with my experience with garage sales, my suggestions to have a successful sale would be the following:

1.  Purchase the already marked price stickers. They are invaluable, easy, and efficient.
2. If you have time, mark sizes on clothing
3. Organize clothing according to gender, size and season
4. Mark tables indicating sizes of clothing on each table.
5. Do not hang things up. For some reason, these items are not looked at as often as items on the tables.
6. Put large items at the front of the sale to draw attention
7. Do not expect the clothing tables to stay organized.  Thus #4 will help customers find what they are looking for.
8. Place bins of toys low to the ground where kids can see them. This will do one of 2 things. Keep the kids occupied while the parents shop and/or get them attached to a toy that they will beg/plead/throw a temper tantrum until the parents buy it for them.
9.  Put shoes on a table or on a box/rubbermaid container.  For some reason shoes are always a huge seller at my sales.
10. Have a power source available for customers to test electronics before purchasing.
11. Group household items.  Christmas items, kitchen items, wall decor, etc.
12. Books are always a good seller. Sellers will tend to purchase more if they can see the titles.
13. Customers like to pay for small items with large bills at the beginning of the sale.  Be sure to have plenty of 1's, 5's and 10's.
14. Greet customers when they arrive.
15. Stores often are willing to part with a sleeve of plastic bags.  These may come in handy if your haven't saved enough.
16.  Jeans are always a great seller.  $2-$3 for jeans in our area, regardless of quality, is generally the standard price. 
17. Maternity clothes usually are not good sellers. Mark them lower than what you would like to.

This leads me to the customers.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate everyone that stops by but I also have some tips and pet peeves that have helped me with the customer suggestions below.  Sometimes it is hard to believe the way some people act at garage sales. 


1.  Try not to use big bills at the beginning of a sale, especially if you only have a small, low cost item.  The seller most likely has change for you but unfortunately so many others pay with large bills, this potentially can wipe out the seller's change making it difficult for future buyers.

2. Sellers will be more willing to bargain with you towards the end of the sale.

3.  If you have a pile of items and want to bargain, it is best not to try to bargain on each individual item. Let the seller give you a total and then ask for a reduced price. This makes it easier than remembering the discounted price for each item.

4.  If at all possible, do not ask for a bag to carry a single onesie, a pair of socks, or one very small item. Unless the seller has gone from store to store and kept every bag that they obtained during the year, this may wipe the seller out of bags. Remember, if you are asking for this, then someone else is too.

My Pet Peeves

1. If you do not want to dicker with the price, do not take the tag off the item.  Most likely, the items were recently tagged and the seller knows what they priced the item.  The seller will be less likely to deal with you if they know you removed the tag.

2. Do not switch tags. In my opinion, this is stealing.  After you switch the tags, do not have the nerve to try to dicker with the seller.

3.  Do not ask the seller how much the price of an item is and then tell them what the sticker says on the item as if to prove them wrong. 

4.  Do not whine, complain, insult the seller for the prices listed on the items. 

5. If you whine, complain, and insult the seller about the price listed on the item and if they agree to lower the price, do not pull out a wad of money to pay for it.

6.  Do not whine, complain, and insult the seller about a price of an item to the point that another customer gives you money to pay for it and then pull out a wad of money to pay for the item.

7.  Do not whine, complain, and insult the seller about a price/color/item/quality of an item. IT IS A GARAGE SALE, not a retail store.

8.  Do not let your kids run wild across the yard, through the sale, climb in the seller's trees or designate them to explore other items on the sellers property to see if they are for sale.

9. Be courteous of the sellers property.

Phew, I feel better.  Thankfully, we wont have another sale until next year.  I think it will take me that long to recover. 
2 Responses
  1. Ali Says:

    Ooo I am not sure that it's appropriate, but this made me really giggle. I like the idea of going to a garage sale and then complaining about the size/colour of something! Your tips are fabulous, and I will well remember them for the future :)

    Congratulations on your success!

  2. meemsnyc Says:

    Wow, that sounds like so much work, but what a great cause. That is so amazing that your family does this every year.

    We don't have garage sales in my area. It's pretty rare. I wish I lived closer because I love yard sales. I would definitely come home with more stuff than I need.

    Sorry that you have to deal with some awful customers. :(

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