Are Garage Sales Worth the Trouble?

Updated on August 16, 2012
B.C. asks from Minneapolis, MN
22 answers

We have a ton of stuff to get rid of - mostly kid clothes, toys, books, etc. In the past, we have given stuff away and given some items to relatives/friends but as we are beginning the process of a major purge, I am realizing just how much STUFF there is! We also have some adult clothes, tools and other assorted random things.

I have never done a garage sale and don't go to them often so am pretty clueless. What sells? What doesn't? Did you find that you made much money and that it was worth all of the time and effort to organize and price everything and sit hostage in your driveway? Any tips on how to make it a successful one?

Thanks for your ideas. I am leaning against doing it but maybe your answers will persuade me otherwise :)

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So What Happened?

Wow! Thanks for taking the time to respond everyone! Sounds like there have been a mix of positive and negative experiences for me to learn from. After reading through your responses, I think I will go the donate route that we have done in the past and take the tax write off. We do have a few larger items that we might post on Craigslist but I think most of it should just be donated. I am not an extrovert and do not relish the idea of having to wheel and deal with people for hours on end. I have tried Once Upon a Child consignment in the past and I find that they actually end up taking so few of my items that the trip there and back is hardly worth it. I guess I haven't tried it with toys, mostly kids clothes. Someone mentioned ECFE which we have also donated to in the past but I had forgotten as an option.

Thanks for the input! Happy purging!

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answers from Dallas on

I think it depends on why you are having the garage sale and what you are selling. I had one in May because I was moving. I didn't want to haul off a bunch of stuff I needed to get rid, so I was motivated to sell. Anything I made on it was worth it to me. I got rid of a lot. Made about $250. I advertised the sale on Craig's List a couple of days prior.

I only committed to one day. Anything more would have been a waste of my time. But not having to haul off the extra large items was a big plus for me when moving out.

If you have large or more valuable items to sell and want to make money, you might do better posting the individual item on Craig's list.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Meh....I love to hate them.
I guess the short answer is: maybe.
A lot of time, effort, work & planning.
A recent "kid stuff sale" yielded high profits because my son was on board with liquidating his collectible stuff from when he was little -- and yes, he got the money! LOL

I think it's worth it if you resolve that, O. way or the other, the stuff is NOT coming back in, and at the end of the sale, it goes to a donation center.

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answers from Washington DC on

Here is my experience:
I had a nicely organized yard sale at my home- lots of work- I made $30.

I Google searched "community organization yard sales" in my area and found a themed community yard sale was held at our hospital- it was called "Kid Stuff" and everything you sold was to be for kids- furniture, books, toys, clothes, dvds, etc...and you paid $25 a parking space ( went to benefit hospital). I bought 2 spaces- my husband thought I was crazy. I made $1853.00 in 4 hours!!!
I was well organized- and the hospital did all the advertising. Also- everyone who came knew it was kid oriented- so they came to buy kid stuff- which is what I had tons of!
So check around!! My opinion is an organized event well known in your community is the way to go!! Best wishes!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

If you can get neighbors to aso have a sale on the same day you will have. Even more traffic. Just remember you will be selling things for 10% of their value. Hold it atat the beginning or end of month when people have just been paid. You need good signage. And an ad on craigslist and your local paper. we make good money. But i can borrow tables and have lots of clothing racks.people like things that Have not been placed on the ground. Pricing. Can be placed on big poster boards.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

It all depends, so yes and no both apply. I usually price things to sell and pull random things to make room for other things. I don't have much time, so my stuff is a bit unorganized. I wrap toy parts together in plastic wrap so people can see what is in there. I usually have so much clothes, I can't possible display it all. With that mess, I can make about $200 or less. It is worth it if I have nothing else to do.

My sister spent time to pull and organize games, clothes, & kitchenware and made about $600. If I knew I was going to make $600 I would make time for it.

What sells? Everything. I put my shoes out and some lady purchased them all and asked if I had more.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

Yard sales are good if you want to get SOME money for your stuff... but you aren't going to make what your stuff is worth.

People go to garage sales, because they get AWESOME deals... so if you are going to have one, be ready for people to haggle you down to the bone!

IF you are wanting to make money, I would list your stuff on Craigslist first. Then, try a yard sale with whatever is left over. ;)

IF you just want to get rid of your stuff, I would check out freecycle, or drop it at a goodwill or woman's shelter...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

They can be worth it. Depends on what you are selling.

Sell anything and everything unless you consider it garbage. "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

Don't worry about doing it up all perfectly. Pick a nice day, plan to sit outside and chat with a friend for about 4 hours and sell whatever you can. Then tote the rest to goodwill. To me it is worth it not to have to cart as much away, especially if you have furniture to sell. However you can also slowly give it away to charities and not bother with giving up 4 hours. We actually sold the bigger items as cheap as possible because we wanted them GONE.

It sells better if people can SEE IT. Get a clothes rack and hang up clothing. Get as many tables as you can and place items on them. You can also lay out tarp and place items on the grass. Anything in boxes is hard to see. You can certainly do a box where every item is .50 cents or less, but display what you can because most people won't dig.

Don't try and label every single item. That will make you a little crazy. You can shout out prices to people or ask them to make an offer. No need to have bags. You aren't a shopping center.

Most of all....... have fun! It can be incredibly fun. I often will take less than I wanted just to see something get a new home. It is wonderful to see your "stuff" live on! Plus the kids learn to weed out their stuff and they can sell and haggle too. Great learning experience.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We use to hold yard sales and would make decent money from them. I think the least we ever made was $600. However, with 2 young kids running around I do not have the time for that. I also used to sell a ton of baby/kid items at our local Wee Sale twice a year. Frankly, that got to be too much work tagging everything, checking it in, hanging it up, etc.

Now I belong to several "Swap and Sell" groups in our local area on fb. I simply post a quick picture from my phone with my asking price. The first person to comment gets the item. I sell everything from baby clothing, toys, nursery items, baby swing, heck I even sold half a box of diapers my baby had outgrown. We all expect to get anywhere from 50-75% of what the item cost new and we usually do. We meet once a week at a public place, usually the walmart parking lot by the donation bins. Everyone exchanges their items and goes on their merry way. It takes less than 10 minutes and viola cash in your pocket and less clutter in your house. If you are on fb try searching on swap and sell or SNS to see if you have groups in your area. Remember to never post your address or phone number and always meet in a well light, high traffic, public area.

Peace and Blessings,
T. B.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It depends on how much your time is worth to you. I personally hate garage sales... My time is worth more than any of the $$ or frustration it causes.

No matter how cheaply you price products, someone wants it cheaper.

People get a chance to case out your house.

I tried it once or twice and closed up within 2 hours because I could not handle the people who felt entitled to my daughter's good used toys, clothes, for free. I had Abercromie $50 jeans, hardly used for $7 and I would be offered $1.

At my breaking point, I said, leave my property, I boxed everything up, took it to the Women's shelter where I new it would be appreciated and I got the tax benefit. I've done that ever since.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We had one before we moved a few years ago, and had a lot of stuff that I just didn't love enough to pack it up and move with it. We actually made over $1000 at our yard sale! But we sold things like a big screen TV, various large furniture items, lots of kids' clothes, games, and toys (all in good condition and not missing any parts), sports equipment, etc. All we did to advertise was to put an ad on Craigslist, and we did have our yard sale on the same day as a few neighbors, which helped with foot traffic as well. We had sold everything by noon. I didn't bother pricing everything. Just had tables where I put "everything $2" or "5 items for $5." Over-price everything, because no matter how reasonably priced, people want a deal. So if you'd take $15 for an item, list it for $20. Then people can "talk you down" to $15 and feel like they got a deal, and everyone walks away happy. ;)

I would say that if you don't have a lot of "big ticket" items, you may be better off donating it and taking the tax write-off. No doubt about it, yard sales are a major hassle. But - less of a hassle than listing everything individually on Craigslist, I guess.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We had a massive garage sale last Saturday. We advertised in the Pennysaver ($30) and posted it on Craiglist, as well as 8 signs in our local vicinity.

From 6 am. to noon we had a steady stream of people. I had AGGRESSIVE pricing because my intent was to get rid of the stuff. It wasn't coming back in to the house! Even with our aggressive pricing we made $500 and told people to make me an offer. I didn't put a single price tag on anything, I just wheeled and dealed. The only thing I organized is that I would have like items clustered together: children's toys/clothing, housewares, bedding, books, etc.

In all, I was happy with the outcome! OH and my 7 year old set up her own lemonade stand and made $20. Who can turn down a child selling lemonade?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes! We put an ad on Craigslist and make @ 6 signs that we put out.
We sell most things (clothes, small toys, books, etc) for $1 each or 7 for $5. Baby onesie? $1. LL Bean Jacket? $1...

Other large things we mark with a sharpie and masking tape as we are putting it out. We mark things about $5 high so we can give people a "deal."

Everything is in our garage in totes and boxes and we just toss those on the yard. Spread the "good" stuff out on tarps. When the sale is over, we take the rest to Goodwill. Little to no prep work and less to cart off at the end of the day.

We have our sale from 7-11 - not the whole day. We normally make $300-$500 and have a clean garage by noon.

I DO think its regional, though, LOTS of people have yard sales here and we always have dozens and dozens of customers.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If you price your items dirt cheap to just get rid of them they will sell. Especially if you put in the ad for the newspaper "Kids clothes boys sizes XX-XX and girls sizes XX-SS, clothes priced at 25 cents each piece". of 50 cents each piece.

If the goal is to get rid of it then price it to go away. If making money is the goal you need to just donate the clothes. They won't make you any money. People won't pay much for used clothes. They want several pieces for less than a dollar.

Went to one garage sale that had an ad similar to this one and there were cars lined up and people tugging on the same clothes. I bet she sold everything.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Doing my own garage sale has never been appealing to me. Way too much work and unless you have some nice stuff it won't make much money. Here is how I get rid of stuff:

1) adult stuff gets donated to charitable organizations and I take the tax credit.
2) I participate 1 time a year in a group garage sale through ECFE (you can only participate if you took your kids through at least 1 Early Childhood Family Education program and I don't know how many ECFEs do this type of fundraiser), a school or church, Munchkin Mart, or other. You loose a percentage of your sales to the organization, but you don't have spend your whole day(s) sitting around haggling with strangers.
3) Kid toys (especially outdoor toys) that I don't feel like prepping for sale, I set out on the street with a FREE STUFF sign next to them.
4) I hate having unused stuff sitting around the house for a long time so I also donate kid stuff throughout the year
5) Once in while I will sell on craigslist if I have nicer stuff that might not be appreciated at a sale.



answers from Minneapolis on

Skip the garage sale and sell your kids' stuff at a kids consignment sale. You can find one in your area by going to Most consignment sales will pay you 60-80% of your sales and will have a $5-10 registration fee, BUT you will sell more and earn more. These sales have hundreds or thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) people come shop for just kids stuff. Alot more than you would get at any garage sale.

You set your own prices. But prices are generally higher than what you would sell it for at a garage sale and there is NO negotiating. The shopper knows this. Think that pair of jeans that you mark for $1 at a garage sale and then gets haggled down to 75 cents would sell for $3-4 at a consignment sale. So even if you are only getting 60% of your sales you are still ending up ahead.

LOTS of consignment sales offer a tagging service. Where you litterally just drop your stuff off for someone else to tag and bring to the sale. With the VIP service at the Munchkin Markets sale in Minneapolis, you still get 50% of your sales and your stuff goes to 5 huge sales and they do all the work.

If the charity angle is what appeals to you, many kids consignment sales (even if they are for profit groups) will donate a portion of the profits to a charity and the items that don't get sold will often be picked up by a charity that will provide them directly to families in need instead of a thrift store or Goodwill that will be re-selling them.


answers from Grand Forks on

I had a yard sale this summer and made about $150. We sat outside for about 7 hours on a Saturday. My kids helped organize and price items, and made the signs, and set up a soft drink stand. As I put stuff together for the yard sale I tried to keep it organized. I would fill a box with toys, another box with kids clothes, a box of ladies clothes, a box of kitchen stuff, etc. I'd fill a box and move it to the garage. Most stuff was priced at $1. If someone was buying lots, I would make a deal. I gave the leftovers to Goodwill. Overall, it was $150 I wouldn't have had if I gave it all away, and it was a good experience for the kids.



answers from Dallas on

My experience, and that of many of my friends and relatives, is that it is not worth it. All the effort and time and you don't make that much and you have people haggling with you on a dollar item. I find it more rewarding to bring the items to goodwill and get the tax break. If you have some bigger more valuable items, like furntiture, there are furniture consignment stores. Likewise if your clothes are in good shape, you could consign.



answers from Minneapolis on

I had a huge sale at the end of June. We got rid of all baby stuff we were no longer using or in need of, kids and baby clothes and a bunch of household stuff. I put in a small amount of adult clothing, but i already knew it would not sell very well. I advertised in our local Home magazine (a classifieds magazine), on craigslist, on 3 Facebook pages meant for selling stuff and on my own facebook page. The only ad i paid for was the Home magazine ad. We made over $1000. Advertising definitely pays. You can be a little vague on kids and baby items, but list any big items. Just list size range and gender for clothes, but definitely list any bigger misc items, furniture or any thing a little different. We had some soaker houses we were no longer using, i listed them in our ad and several people came just for those. Good luck!


answers from Kansas City on

Our Girl Scout service unit does a "holiday mart" in Dec. All things usable I donate to "holiday mart". As we do this for the families in our school district who may not otherwise get "new to them items" for the holidays. We take no payment for the items and then all items left over are given to the local women's shelter.

The holiday mart is by invitation only...the schools help identify those families that need assistance. We also put together a family bag of new necessities (toothbrushes, shampoo, paste, soap and a small gift card to the local store)...

So I don't hassle with garage sales, never really made any money with them. And now I know that families in need get the help they need. Most I ever made in a garage sale was $200 and that was because we sold our giant oak entertainment center for $100.



answers from Wausau on

They can totally be worth it, but u have to make sure the things u are selling are clean and in good condition. think about, if u would buy it from someone else's sale, what kind of condition it should be in and if u set a very reasonable price, u can sell LOTS! This time of year isn't a good time for sales, because most people have gotten what they already need.but if u save it and work on tagging it throughout the winter and have a sale in april or may,thats when people are antsy for the sales. We made the most on a wednesday. and continued through until Saturday. Good luck, mama!!



answers from Chicago on

I donate and take the tax write off. Big items like expensive baby swings get sold on Craigslist.



answers from Columbia on

I just want to do the math - let's say I sit outside for 7 hours. I make $150.

That's $21.42 per hour. If I add in the 4 hours of prep time (2 hours to set up the tables and mark the prices, 1 hour to collect all the stuff, and 1 hour to clean up afterwards)- that's 11 hours, so $13.64 per hour.

But I have my two kids helping, so it doesn't seem fair to keep all the profits myself. So maybe I'll pay them 10% - each. That's $15 per kid, $30 total to employees, so now I'm at $120 for me, or $10.90 per hour.

Of course Mrs. On Purpose will want her cut - so now I've sat outside for 7 hours, shepherded the children for 2 days collecting and pricing, negotiated price with my neighbors and cleaned all this stuff up - twice for $60. Divided by 11 hours is $5.45 per hour.

Well,$60 is nothing to sneeze at. I dunno, I guess what is the most you think you could get, pay "employees", cut in a spouse and still be worth it for your effort?

But whatever you do, please make sure those things that still have a "life" get given that chance at that life. I like to recycle, even if I don't make money at it. :)

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