Garage Sale Pricing Guide: How to Price Your Items for Sale

Everybody loves a garage sale! But, like all types of parties, it’s a lot easier going to one than throwing one. When you go to a yard sale, it’s all fun and games: you’re looking for a piece of fine art stuck in a frame behind a black velvet poster of dogs playing poker. But you’ll settle for at 25-cent potholder. You bring your change, do a bit of haggling and get the opportunity to take someone else’s stuff to your home.

When you are on the other side of the “Yard Sale” sign, a garage sale can be serious business. You need money. You need to clean out the garage so you and your garage band will have a place to practice. You desperately want to sell everything your ex ever gave you, liked or complimented—and your ex’s stuff, too. (Hey, it gets left behind, it gets sold.)

The question is: how do you price your items to sell as many as possible? Here’s a simple yard sale pricing guide to get you started.

Pricing your items for a garage sale is not the same as pricing them for eBay. You are going for bulk sales—the more that goes home with other people, the better. An exception: if you have something that you know is valuable (a Fender guitar, for example), price it for 20% more than the lowest price you’ll accept. If it doesn’t sell, there’s always eBay, where there’s a market for just about anything—especially things with high resale value.

But getting back to your kid brother’s Etch-a-Sketch, your Grandma’s doily collection and all those issues of Scientific American… price them to sell. The idea is to engage your market in bulk sales. In other words, price it so low it practically walks out on its own. There are some tricks from the world of retail marketing that may come in handy:

  1. Get a big basket and load it up with items. Now make a sign with these magic words: “Buy One, Get One Free.” People eat that up! Now mark the items in full-dollar increments. When people get something for free, they like to feel like they’re getting something of value (for example, that Beanie Baby with the $10 price tag on it).
  2. Set up a $5 table. This is easy. Take a few dozen things you’re planning to sell that you think will bring in more than $1 each (a toaster, a crystal vase, costume jewelry). Put all these items on your $5 table. Best of all, make the table itself available, for $5! Your sign: “Anything on this table: Only $5!” Close to the end of the day, you can change the sign: “$4 each after 4 p.m.”
  3. If you’re selling clothes, don’t put them on hangers. Clothes look nice on hangers, but they don’t sell. It’s too easy for your customers to push the hangers back and forth, perhaps pick out one item and put it back. Set the clothes, folded, on a table (a card table works for this). Make a price list and tape it to the table: Jeans $10, Jackets $15, t-shirts 3/$8.

Always price 20% higher than you’re willing to accept (40% higher for items over $20).

It’s great to have a goal that’s related to how much you sell versus how much you’ll make, because garage sales are just as much about cleaning your clutter as they are about making money. If you follow the simple tips listed here, you’ll achieve both.

Conna Shannon

Conna Shannon

Conna is a writer, editor and aspiring filmmaker. She's into DIY, upcylcing and macrobiotic cooking. She lives in Monterey, California, with a yellow lab named Daisy.
Conna Shannon

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