Garage Sale Advice Needed

Updated on May 20, 2009
R. asks from Bartlett, IL
8 answers

Hi Moms! I am having a garage sale this weekend. I have a lot of baby stuff, crib, swings, high chairs, tons of clothes, etc. Anyway, I'm not sure how to price the stuff. Have any ideas? Please let me know, I don't want to be too pricey and not to low either. The furniture and clothes are in great condition. Another question... do I have to clean the stuff first? Some of it has been in storage in our house for a year or so? Clothes are cleaned. Thanks to all of you!

3 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

Hi R.!

I have had 2 successful garage sales so far! The first year I made $650. Last year only $500 but did not have as much and I also sold things for less since I was trying to get rid of it rather than pack it up to do again this year!

I try to clean obvious things like dirt, markers, goo etc from items. Magic Erasers work great for quick clean up! Dust they get for free! lol I also run the clothes through the dryer with a few fab softener sheets and a wet towel to get rid of wrinkles and "freshen" them up from sitting in a box for so long.

I price things fairly low- clothes I do 50 cents per item. So if it is a 2 piece outfit it is $1. That seems to work well and rarely do I have anyone try to haggle unless they are buying a lot. I also sort everything by size to make it easier on everyone! I do mark a few of the fancier dresses, jackets, handmade items for more but not much. I make sure those are clearly marked so they can not say ohhhhhhh I thought it was only 50 cents etc...

Toys I sell for about $1. a piece depending on what it is. Her rattles obviously are not worth that and priced at free-25 cents but the doll stroller, Elmo dancing doll etc are marked $1. Melissa and Doug toys I have marked for $1.50.

One thing everyone loves is to get something for free! I do my books and stuffed animals that way. I price all my hard cover books at $1 and paper backs at 50 cents. Buy 4 get the 5th free. Stuffed animals I mark at $1. and buy 2 get the 3rd free. It has helped a ton in selling them! I had only a few left of both items last year!

As for the larger items.... leave room to haggle a little bit. My high chairs I sold for $10 and $15. A outdated pack and play I sold for $10. Her swing I sold for $15. 3in1 Exersaucer for I think $35. Bassinet for $10. Little Tikes desk $15. Little Tikes toy box $10. Most of those items I marked at $5 over those prices and when someone was looking if they were unsure I said how about for $x and then they would usually buy it. They felt like they were getting a deal then. Also, if you have the original directions and box those help to get a better price for them... thankfully my hubby is a pack rat! lol

I put an ad on Craigs List for free and listed a lot of the items I was selling. I had several people contact me before the sale to purchase items. I made the mistake of not selling her extra crib right away at the garage sale since a person told me they wanted to buy it but couldnt come until Sunday.... they never showed! I got lucky and sold it for $15 with a brand new mattress that late in the game!

One VERY important thing someone told me is.... do not price items based on emotional attachment! They are not worth that much to the next person just because it was the first book you read to your little one, she smiled for her first time while sitting in this or whatever! If it is something you are really attached to keep it! No price will ever be worth it.... I have several things I kept like her coming home from the hospital outfit, her pajamas that she looked adorable in, her first blankie etc.... more junk for me to store but I could not part with them yet!

Also, consider what you would be willing to pay at a garage sale for those items? I have limits on what I spend at garage sale for certain items... rummage sales for like Mother of Multiples, church rummage sales etc- I know I will pay more though. I also know I will pay more at Once Upon a Child than at a garage sale. So consider all those things when pricing!

Also,make sure if the toys do not have batteries in them that you have a spare set handy so the people can test it out while there! Same with electrical items- have a cord handy so they can plug it in!

You will be surprised at the junk people are willing to buy... I sold a old cheap plastic clock with a corroded set of batteries in it for $1. I also sold used candles for 50 cents. One persons garbage is another persons treasure! lol

Also, you might want to consider having a cooler with waters for 50 cents- $1. I know I LOVE seeing these at garage sales since it is a pain to run to the nearest store when you are on a mission! lol

Someone else made the comment of keeping your money close to you- preferably on your belt! Make sure you always do. Also, have a designated place to pay.... bring the person over to the table and when they give you the money put it under a paper weight or whatever and then count back the change. I am shocked at how many times I had people try to tell me they gave me a 20 when they gave me a 10. Also, if possible keep bringing in larger bills so you are not carrying them and keep pulling them out. Better safe than sorry!

Good luck to you having a successful garage sale! Be safe and have fun!
Blessings to you and yours!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I just had my 1st garage sale.

1. Practically everyone negotiates. Price a little higher b/c some people will just offer 1/2 price. Remember, though, it's a garage sale.

2. The stuff should be clean (no old, crusty food on a high chair, for example). However, I don't think you need to dust it. The buyer should clean it thoroughly b/4 using it.

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I would mark it up to allow room for negotiating. I had a nice umbrella stroller and I just wanted $2 for it and I had people offering me 50 cents! It was in VERY nice condition only used for 1 kid for a few months, yet some of the people didn't want to pay that $2. So I would be ready for that.

I actually quit doing the garage sales because I was getting too pissed off about people wanting to pay 25 cents for everything and pulling out 50 dollar bills and asking for change. I take all my kid clothes and other stuff to resales held at local schools. It's work to put the price tags on, but I get more money and don't have to deal with the people! I just drop off the bags and then pick up or donate what doesn't sell.

If you have something kind of big that's nice, I would consider selling it on craigslist if you really want more money for it. If you are just wanting to get rid of it and don't care about the money, the garage sale would be a good way to go. I would clean the stuff either way because it makes it look appealing.




answers from Chicago on

Alwys price higher than what u want cause u can always go lower! Good luck



answers from Chicago on

Here is a copy of a response I sent another Mama in answer to her questions. Hope it helps. Also: Yes, clean everything. You don't have to have it sparkling, but no jam smears on the toys or musty smells in the clothes. I usually run everything through the washer once the week prior to the sale. RE: prices. Toys are usually $1 here, except books: .50 (softcover) and stuffed animals .25 to .50 since no one really wants used stuffed toys. Have fun!

Here's the earlier note:
1. Do I need a permit to have a garage sale in Chicago?
-I don't think so. I am in Oak Park and no one needs them here. Perhaps your alderman/woman would know?

2. What are the best days/times to have a garage sale in Chicago?
-Fridays and Saturdays are the best. Usually we do 8:00-1:00 both days. That may seem like a short shift, but you will be TIRED after 5 hours in the sun! Also, people ALWAYS arrive early, unless you tell them, "no earlybirds please" in your ad. It is really awkward to be setting up your stuff at 7:00 am and people are knocking on your fence or pushing their way in to take a peek. I just say, "look. I am alone and I can't open the gate until I get this stuff priced. Thanks. Come back in an hour." Don't put up your signs until you are READY to open. Also, I get some colored pennants and hang up those so people can see from the street that there is a sale. The more customers, the better!

3. How much change in dollars and coins should I have?
-I usually buy two rolls of quarters, at least $40 in singles, $30 in fives and a couple of tens. You would be surprised how many people show up at 8:00 am and hand you a twenty dollar bill for an item that costs $1. I only mark things .25, .50, $1.00 and then up by a dollar each. Don't bother with nickels and dimes (or pennies, eek!) Keep it simple, so you can do the math in your head. Start collecting plastic bags from the grocery store to have on hand and save old newspapers, to wrap plates, picture frames or anything breakable. People do expect you to provide this for them, although not everyone does.

4. Is it worth the money to advertise in the Chicago Tribune or any other paper? If not, where else should I advertise besides Craigslist and local stores?
-We advertise in the local paper, which costs about $30, but is worth it since a lot of people read these just for the garage sales (me, too!) But, I don't know about the Trib. Perhaps someone who lives in Chicago might be able to give you a better read on that. Be sure to put up signs in the neighborhood, if permitted. Check to see where you can place them. Like, you are not supposed to tape them to lights at the intersection, but lots of people do. We put signs on corners leading up to our house. But, we are on a super busy road, so we also get a lot of drive by traffic.

5. How much do adult shoes and articles of clothing usually sell for? What about items like books, DVDs, etc.
-Adult shoes, $1-2 a pair. Kids clothes .50 to $1.00. Adult clothes varies from .50 to a couple of bucks for a nice blouse, or maybe $3-5 for a nice dress or coat. Books: We sell all kids books for .50, unless a nice hardcover then $1.00. Adult books generally .50 unless a nice one, then $1.00. DVD's go for $2.00. VHS tapes are only getting $1.00 these days since no one really wants them anymore. Toys are very popular and can get $1.00-$2.00 each, for games or a bag of cars or action figures. Wash and fold all clothes and stuffed animals ahead of time. If you don't have the box for a toy with multiple parts, just use a Ziploc bag.

6. Should I price items higher than I'd like to sell them for in anticipation that people will expect to and want to negotiate prices?
-Up to you. I actually HATE negotiating, so I always give in and take whatever the person offers, unless it is on a large item that I expect to sell at the price marked. In that case, I just say, "No, I think I'll keep that at $5 (or whatever) for now, since it is so early in the day." They usually just pay the $5, since I mark stuff pretty cheap to begin with. But, lots of people will say "....will you take (x amount) for this?" You can then say, "Hmmm, how about (y amount)" or "Okay, that's fine."

GOOD LUCK and have fun!! And drink plenty of water and find some shade in the day! Also, watch your money. We don't use change boxes anymore. I always carry my money in a purse around my waist. You can't be too careful!



answers from Chicago on

Looks like you already got great pricing advice so I'll give you just a few more tips:

1. YES, keep your money ON you, not on the table or in a box. We've had money stolen before!

2. Keep things like jewelry on the table you are sitting at and keep an eye on people. We've had people steal things before, especially if there's a rush! Someone stole my camera which was originally $250 camera I was selling for $30. We've also had jewelry and other small items stolen.

3. I make or buy pre-printed labels with prices on them and then stick them on the items rather than pricing each item. It seems to be faster and easier, I don't know why!

4. Cover up expensive things in your garage that you're not selling with sheets. Someone came back and stole some tools from my dad. He stole specific things. I guess we've have bad luck with the stealing!

5. Good luck! Hope you make a profit and have fun!



answers from Chicago on

I enjoy garage saling and have hosted many. Good advise from NW on the basics. I do keep my money in a box, though. Just haven't had problems like that. Keep jewelry and small items near check-out area.

Couple thoughts: Yes, you want your items clean. Hang up any really cute items and you can price them differently than the more ordinary items (i.. e special coats, dresses, sweaters, etc...) All other items can be placed in a box, per size group, and items can be priced, on a sign, per piece. People will appreciate size groupings and generic pricing will be easier for you to maintain if you have lot's of little stuff (i.e. t-shirts = 50 cents; tops = $1.00, pants = $1.00) Again....hang up your really cute stuff.

Shine up that baby gear! Check with your neighbors for some advise for your area. Remember, you can always lower a price after a few hours or barter on price - people will always ask you go lower so you price with that in mind. Everyone wants a good value. On every item you don't want to tell your customers.... "No - Sorry - it's a good price - don't want to barter." but don't be afraid to say "No" if someone is expecting something for near-free and you just opened up!

Pricing is really based on several thoughts ... 1) How fast do you want it to fly out of there 2) How long is your garage sale... 3) How much stuff do you really have? 4) Who are your customers????? You could have LOTS of baby stuff but no one is buying that. Take phone numbers of people who are really interested in a bigger item but they are walking away. Ask people to spread the word to their "baby friends" even if they are not buying. Find out who is having a garage sale in your neighborhood. Go to their sale on the same day. Look around - buy something small. Ask to leave a flyer or two with them and encourage them to give you THEIR information so you direct people to theirs.
Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

Well, I guess it all depends on how badly you want to get rid of it. I'm not a huge garage saler, but my MIL is. A couple of weeks ago my neighborhood had its annual sale and she came up and we walked around. She was shocked as to how "expensive" things were. I bought a wood puzzle for $2. She thought it was worth $1 at the most.

We went by another house and they were selling a school bus that teaches letters and numbers. My 21M old has recently become very aware of the school buses and points them out all the time. He's also learning his letters. So, I went up and it wasn't marked. I asked how much they wanted and she said, "Oh I don't care." I pulled out like $3 and she said, "Oh no. No way. 50 cents." I insited on $1 and she insisted that I take another toy with me.

We have a lot of baby items that we want to sell at the end of the month, too. I'm planning on pricing more like the $2 puzzle above. I figure whatever doesn't sell, I can donate and write-off more than .50/toy. Lol.

As for cleaning them, I plan on cleaning everything just so it all looks more appealing to buy.

Good luck!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions