Garage Sale Tips: How To Sell Junk For Cash

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2012-07-1821

If you are desperate for some quick cash and you want to find some ways of making money this coming weekend, the best bet is to focus on a yard sale. Provided you have the time to clear out your closets and find a load of stuff to sell, you could have a lot more cash in your pocket by the time the weekend is out! In my case, every Spring or Summer, I’ve made it a point to clear out the clutter accumulating in my attic over the past year. I actually find it pretty therapeutic! While I used to be a pack rat (see my story “Cash In On Clutter” for more musings on this), I’ve since changed my ways. I guess you can call me a reformed hoarder. 🙂

Helpful Tips For Selling Your Junk

If this sounds like a good idea to you, have a look at these tips to help you make the most of a yard or garage sale.

1. Clean everything up and make things presentable. What you’re selling might be junk to you, but you stand a greater chance of making more sales if every item looks its very best. By presenting things well, you might be able to sell your stuff for more money, as people generally respond positively to things that have been well cared for and maintained. You may be surprised to find your customers valuing your items for more than you’re asking for.

2. Don’t forget signage! Get the word out as much as you can! In fact, if you can wait until you’ve done enough planning before you hold your garage sale, you’ll do a better job with the preparations and with getting the attention you want. Talk to your family members, friends and everyone else you can think of and invite everyone over. Make sure you put up some signs on the main road close to where you live too. And don’t forget that a nice bright sign right outside your house will do wonders for bringing in more people.

garage sale tips

3. Advertise online. There are some online sites you can look into where you can advertise your yard sale for free (or for low cost). Check out your local Craigslist to announce your yard sale. Note that you can also use this avenue to work out online sales of individual items you own, which you can pursue after your yard sale is over. In my neighborhood, I sometimes use as well, to promote my sales and events. Your area may have community newspapers, newsletters or sites where you can make these announcements. Here’s more on how to sell on Craigslist, based on my personal experience.

4. Stick to your prices (be firm on pricing). You’ll always get people wanting to knock down your prices and wanting to get something for less. But don’t fold right away. A friendly bit of haggling is fair enough but watch that you don’t knock the price down too low, especially early in the day. You have the whole day ahead of you and there could be other buyers who come along, willing to pay you full price.

5. Offer multiple discounts to move more items. This strategy is good for books and other similar items you might have a lot of, such as CDs. Set a price for an individual item, then offer a discount if someone buys several, say five or ten of the kind. You’ll be surprised by the number of people who end up buying more than they came in for, when they see a deal like this. Offering deals and discounts have always been successful tactics to try, as shoppers love a bargain when they see it.

6. Keep things organized and move your stock around from time to time. This is particularly worth doing as you begin selling some of the items you’ve brought out and displayed. Once you start selling, keep your area organized and clean. Rearrange things to improve your chances of selling what you still have left.

Finally, when you get towards the end of the day, try something drastic if you really want to get rid of what’s left. For example, slash everything to half the price you started with. Or if you’re not quite ready to part with your stuff at truly firesale prices, then end your sale and unload your items online instead. Try eBay, Craigslist or your local community newsletter or classifieds: there’s a good chance you’ll get better prices this way. I know, because this is actually my preferred way to sell.

Trying out these tips can get you some good results and can help you earn the most from a yard sale. Imagine the space you free up, as well as the extra cash you earn in the process, when you get rid of your junk and clutter.

Created June 29, 2010. Updated July 18, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

CreditShout June 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Wow that’s really cool that there is a website for finding garage sales, but I guess there’s a site for everything nowadays. This is a very timely post, I can’t take a walk around my neighborhood without seeing a couple yard sales.

Best Garage Sale Tips June 29, 2010 at 9:13 pm

You need to decide whether you just want to get rid of your junk or make some money from it. If the latter, then you just need to think of your junk as ‘merchandise’ and your garage sale as a ‘retail store’. Everything then falls into place for a successful garage sale – presentation, promotion, customer service, etc.

Xiaoxue June 30, 2010 at 3:17 am

All these tips are so helpful for selling junk for cash. You can earn more from a garage or yard sale. Then you can take it online as you suggested.

Kosmo @ The Casual Observer June 30, 2010 at 6:14 am

If you’re selling books/CDs, politely make recommendations to buyers. If I’m buying a book from author A and you suggest that I might like author B, there’s a really good chance that I’ll buy the book(s) from author B.

Impulse Magazine June 30, 2010 at 7:46 am

I think it is better to sell your stuff on Craigslist or eBay!

kt June 30, 2010 at 8:52 am

i dont understand why some people feel that they can squeeze some cash even from things that rightfully belong in the trash or in a bonfire. I have been hearing people make this complaint over and over. I think people should only sell things that they would not mind keeping in their houses.

Silicon Valley Blogger June 30, 2010 at 9:03 am

You got a point. Some stuff for sale should probably make it to the garbage heap… That said, when I visit yard sales (mostly to browse), I am often quite surprised by the level of quality of things on sale. These days, with foreclosures on the rise, you can find lots of estate sales where an entire house can be unloaded. There are some treasures you can pick up for great prices.

Kosmo @ The Casual Observer June 30, 2010 at 10:33 am

Also, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure … I’ve picked some vintage games at garage sales over the year. Some might consider a 30 year old game of “Rack-O” to be junk – but not me 🙂 July 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm

The main thing is to get traffic to your sale – then good things happen. Advertising is key. Post lots of signs, craigslist and also do not forget about your local paper. Many people still look in the paper for yard sales.

Rob July 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I was just thinking of the “economics” of a garage sale today; while out on a run…I was thinking, “What is the real work/profit ratio that people are getting out of this…?” You have to get a license (money), you have to set up signs…they cost money…you have to give up your valuable time; (time is money, right?) ” And what for? To sell some of your old clothes, sporting goods, or knick knacks that you don’t want anymore. I just prefer to take my items to St. Vincents-De Paul (Goodwill) and write the items off in my tax return. It seems like you can get much more for a pair of old jeans or an old suit on a write-off than you would ever get in a garage sale….

Silicon Valley Blogger July 2, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Good points Rob. Although I think that some people enjoy going through the garage sale experience. It’s cathartic to them, so it’s not like they’re “wasting” time. If you like doing it, it’s not a waste. Maybe it’s a chance for these folks to socialize with neighbors in a casual setting. Also, if you hold an estate sale, it may be a good way to get rid of a lot of stuff in a short period of time.

I typically sell one-off items through Craigslist. I’ve made some good money doing this — much better than any tax deductions (on a per item basis). So I’m not complaining. Selling stuff online has worked out well for us. For the stuff I am unable to sell, I donate to the Salvation Army.

Kimberly Cole July 3, 2010 at 9:55 am

I love yard sales! True, some stuff can be junk but I think a lot of times you can find things there that you can’t find in stores or anywhere else. It’s like your shopping at a person’s personal vintage store. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!

Jesse July 7, 2010 at 10:46 am

Another site to list the sale for free is, where you can post unlimited content and pictures – and shoppers can find you easily, with a range of searching options and an iPhone app.

Consumermiser July 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm

SVB, nice tips. I am going to use your article as my inspiration to get rid of our clutter. We have a 3 season sun porch that we use as a storage room and its time to get rid of the stuff!!!

Also, if you don’t want to sell your stuff, you can donate your items to the Salvation Army or a thrift store.

I like Craigslist too, but I may try or (thanks Jesse) to advertise as well.

lorena July 21, 2010 at 8:25 pm

I’m not really comfortable about having a garage sale. I find it ok to sell gadgets, old mowers and the like. But I feel like I’m being examined under a microscope especially when I sell old clothes. I prefer selling my stuff on the internet because I don’t have to see their faces while scrutinizing my stuff. Anyway, nice tip you got here. As for Rob, those signs need not be expensive. You don’t have to get a tarpaulin printed just to advertise a garage sale. I once did mine using a permanent marker and it worked just fine. But as I’ve said I stopped doing it because not all people give out criticisms well. But you’re right, you can get more money in a write-off than garage sales.

John @ Selling Home September 1, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Good points. I especially want to add how important it is to MAKE SIGNS!. This can make or break a sale if the house is not obvious to find from main roads. Trust me I know first hand how bad a sale can go if you don’t put signs point directly to the garage. All the other points are great too, but make sure that people know how to get there. I think I beat it to death finally 🙂

Craigslist October 23, 2010 at 7:12 am

If you don’t have luck with garage sales, I would recommend to go online on Craigslist further than just your local area. Simply post ad about things you wanna sell, throw in some pics of them so people can see what shape are they in. If someone is interested, he will come for that stuff or you can just mail it to him/her 🙂 Simple enough? I think yes 🙂 Craigslist can help a lot I tell you.

Round Round Garage Door Repair December 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I love craiglist! Also, lots of cities now have their classifieds online. I look there every weekend for stuff from estate sales and garage sales.

Alex Perez March 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm

If you are having an unsuccessful garage sale, you can check out an online resource such as, which offers its community the ability to advertise, search, contact the seller, and post garage and yard sales over the internet. They allow potential buyers to find your garage / yard sale, if you decide to list your event here.

Geoff July 22, 2012 at 12:41 am

What great ideas for clearing out junk and making some money at the same time. It’s worth remembering that what’s junk to one person might be a treasure to someone else.

Silicon Valley Blogger July 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Some people I know find the junkiest things that have been abandoned by the roadside and turn them into works of art. I am envious of those who have the skills to restore old furniture and who are able to bring them back to their former glory.

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