Garage Sale Checklist

When you have a lot of items to sell — household goods, clothes, toys, tools, things that everyone can use — a garage sale is an affordable and effective way to make a little cash as you clean out. But a successful yard sale involves more than putting out a few tables and some signs…

Begin By Preparing Your Sale Items

Checkmark-Iconsort items into logical categories — kitchen, books, kids, clothes, etc.

Xmark-Iconclean and repair items as you go — it’s worth the time and you can get a higher price

Checkmark-Iconprice items and label with a description when applicable

Xmark-Icongenerally, you can sell items for 25-50% what you paid for them if in excellent condition

Checkmark-Iconthe price goes down from there for older or more worn items

Xmark-Iconbe sure to have “try-before-you-buy” accessories — extension cords, batteries, bulbs, etc.

Clarify Yard Sale Regulations

Checkmark-Iconcall your city or county government to find out the local yard sale regulations

Xmark-Iconfind out if you need a permit to hold a yard sale in your area

Checkmark-Iconfind out about “signage” rules — acceptable size, shape, and placement

Xmark-Iconsome cities require signs to be so many feet from the road

Checkmark-Iconsome cities prohibit signs anywhere but your yard

Decide On Your Advertising Methods

Xmark-Iconcall your local newspaper for prices and deadlines — don’t forget “free” and local papers

Checkmark-Iconinclude the date, time, address, directions, and items of interest

Xmark-Iconrun your newspaper ad at least one day before and the day of your sale

Checkmark-Iconinclude ads in online listing services like Craigslist

Xmark-Iconalso check out dedicated yardsale sites — free listings only

Checkmark-Iconplan to put out flyers in local stores, laundromats, and churches

Xmark-Iconsend out an e-mail letting all of your local contacts know that you’re having a sale

Determine Your Yard Sale Policies

Checkmark-Iconset the length of your sale — how many days and which hours

Xmark-Iconweekend sales get the most traffic — multi-day sales can expand your buyer base

Checkmark-Icondecide if you will allow early birds

Xmark-Icondecide if you will accept checks cash only

Checkmark-Icondecide if you will hold items for people to come back later — pay first, put a deposit, or not

Xmark-Icondecide if you will let people into your home — for the phone, restroom, etc.

Don’t Forget To Ask For Help

Checkmark-Iconrecruit a few helpers to assist with the sale

Xmark-Iconcan invite friends or family to help with sorting and pricing before the sale

Checkmark-Iconneed at least 2 people to stay the length of the sale to answer questions, check people out, etc.

Xmark-Icongood to have some assistance cleaning up after the sale, too

Checkmark-Iconmake arrangements for a charity to pick up your leftovers

Multi-Family Sales

Xmark-Iconask friends, neighbors, and family to join in — or consider a church, school, scout, or other group sale

Checkmark-Iconhave each participant mark his or her items differently — different color tags, initials on the tag, etc.

Xmark-Iconkeep track of each person’s sales in a notebook

Checkmark-Icontracking option 1 — remove the sticker from the item and put on that person’s page

Xmark-Icontracking option 2 — write down each person’s sales on their list as you check out customers

Checkmark-Iconmore sellers equals more stuff to sell — more attractive to buyers, leads to more traffic

Putting Up Signs

Xmark-Iconput posters at major intersections and along your road

Checkmark-Iconchoose a bright sign (white or yellow) with black lettering — high contrast, easy-to-read

Xmark-Iconwrite in large, thick block lettering for better visibility

Checkmark-Iconinclude your address and arrows — don’t worry about directions

Xmark-Iconput up a sign at every major turn if it’s not a straight shot to your house

Checkmark-Iconinclude the days and hours of the sale

Xmark-Iconput a big sign with balloons on your mailbox to let them know where to stop

Setting Up Your Checkout Area

Checkmark-Iconput together a “cash box” with plenty of change — at least $20 in coins, $50 in ones, $40 in fives

Xmark-Iconcreate a list of “minimum prices” you will accept for each item

Checkmark-Iconexplain how low you’re willing to go to any “helpers” so they can negotiate with buyers on your behalf

Xmark-Iconmake sure you have plenty of “checkout” items — bags, tissue or newspaper to wrap fragile items, etc.

Checkmark-Iconput your checkout area near the natural exit from your sale

Xmark-Iconset up a table and a couple of chairs — you’ll be there a while!

Setting Up Your Sale Area

Checkmark-Iconmake sure nothing is blocking foot-traffic flow — people should be able to move easily between tables

Xmark-Icondisplay like and complementary items together — all cookware in one place, toys in another, etc.

Checkmark-Iconit’s like the departments in a store — think about grocery and discount stores

Xmark-Iconmake sure everything is clearly visible — shoppers shouldn’t have to dig through boxes or piles

Checkmark-Iconuse racks, tables, hangers, tree limbs, ladders, porch railing — whatever you have for display

Timeline — One Week Before The Sale

Xmark-Iconput up flyers in public areas around town

Checkmark-Iconplace your newspaper ad

Xmark-Icongather your yard sale supplies

Checkmark-Iconprice and sort your merchandise

Xmark-Iconget change at the bank

Checkmark-Iconconfirm your yard sale “helpers”

Xmark-Iconfind a charity to pick up your leftovers

Timeline — The Day Before The Sale

Checkmark-Iconput up directional signs around your neighborhood

Xmark-Iconblock off any areas you don’t want shoppers to enter

Checkmark-Iconget a good night’s sleep

Timeline — The Day Of The Sale

Xmark-Iconstart setting up 1-2 hours before the sale is scheduled to start

Checkmark-Iconput one person in charge of the cash box — never leave it unguarded

Xmark-Iconhave fun — let your kids sell snacks and play some peppy music!

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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