4 Mistakes I Made at My Garage Sale

I went into my garage sale with big dreams. I’d sell almost everything and get us ready for the tiny lifestyle without having to bring loads of stuff and reluctantly drop them off at Goodwill. I’d have some cash to put in our savings jar and we could use t to get organized once we moved into our RV. But that was not to be.

My first garage sale, admittedly, was not a success. I did not read great articles like this one from The Spruce to help me get going. I just went balls-to-the-wall and dove in, not knowing at all what I was dong. In fact, full disclosure: I made $22.71. Yes, you read that right. Twenty-two dollars and seventy-one cents. But, no hard feelings to my fellow bargain hunters, because I now know a few things that I did wrong.

1. I used sticky notes for pricing.

K, look. This on is obvious to me now. Sticky notes aren’t really that sticky, and a slight breeze turns you into a litterer. But, I didn’t think about it ahead of time and all I had were a ton of sticky notes that I had amassed over the years pre-tiny-living. So that’s what I used. I’ve seen people use dot stickers that you can buy soooo many of on Amazon for cheap, or you can grab a few smaller packs at the dollar store or Staples.

The only thing the sticky note idea might work for is a bunch of smaller items that you want to group together and sell for the same price. The picture below shows how I did it, but I wouldn’t do it this way again. You can see how a gentle breeze could screw up the whole thing.

pricing at a garage sale

So, the takeaways from this silliness include: 1. Use sticker dots for pricing on large items. 2. Make a sturdier sign to show pricing on smaller items.

IDEA! If you use sticker dots, you could use a color-coding system so you don’t have to write on each dot. For example, yellow dots are $1, blue $3, and so on. Then, make a sign showing the price of everything using another sticker dot. It adds an element of fun to your garage sale, and it makes your job easier.

2. I picked the wrong date.

This one is kind of a two-fer, actually. I picked the wrong date not because it was bad for my neighborhood or the weather was bad. In fact, it would have been a great date if I didn’t goof up the rest of it. The weather was beautiful and there was a festival going on not far from my house. I picked a bad date because I planned it for a day when my husband couldn’t help me much (a Saturday when he had to go to work). And, I picked a bad date because we weren’t ready to get rid of everything yet. I did this intentionally, actually, but it backfired. I didn’t want to wait until the last minute to get rid of everything because I wanted to have time to sell the rest of it. So, by the time the yard sale date came around, we were only ready to get rid of clothes, jewelry, movies, and other small household stuff.

3. My starting prices were too high.

Here’s the simple version: I knew I would come down on prices. My customers did not. What I should have used as a pricing philosophy is: How much is it worth? Sell it for almost half that.

One of the factors that inspires people to make impulse purchases is price. And a garage sale is vastly different from selling online (which I do now), because you are there to get rid of your stuff and make a little money as a side benefit. If you have a lot of time to sell your lovely things, then you can price them higher and get more profit. But, if you don’t, you have to let your customers basically get steals.

  • Necklace and earrings set – costume jewelry from India:
    • What I wanted to sell them for: $7
    • What they sold for: $2
  • Sterling silver necklace
    • What I wanted to sell it for: $15
    • What it sold for: $3
  • Three rings:
    • What I wanted to sell it for: $20
    • What it sold for: $4.71 (that’s all the buyer had in his pocket)
  • Cross pendant, sterling
    • What I wanted to sell it for: $20
    • What it sold for: $3
  • Sheer tank top:
    • What I wanted to sell it for: $7
    • What it sold for: $2
  • Men’s overshirt: $5
    • What I wanted to sell it for: $6
    • What it sold for: $5
  • 2 game cube games: $3
    • What I wanted to sell them for: $10
    • What they sold for: $3 ($1.50 each)

4. I wasn’t ready an hour early.

Like I said in my post about what I learned from having a yard sale, people show up early. They want to get the best stuff, and they want to get it before anybody else. I had planned my garage sale for 8 a.m., so I started putting stuff out at 7:30 a.m. But, as soon as I brought the first table out, someone showed up. He hovered for a little while, then came up to see what I had. Before 8, he had made a purchase and was gone. So, I’ll end this on a simple note: set up early. You’ll get more sales and you won’t have to set up while a stranger is standing among your stuff.

All in all, having a garage sale was fun. It was a little nervewracking, and honestly, disappointing in many ways. I much preferring selling stuff locally via Craigslist, OfferUp, and others. You don’t have to set aside a whole morning, you don’t have to make snap decisions and sell sterling silver that your mother gave you for $3, and you get more money. So, if you’re downsizing, check out my posts about that and get some ideas for making your trash someone else’s treasure and having a few bucks to spend.


1 Comment

  1. This really made my day. Keep threatening to have one someday, and haven’t done it yet. Perhaps on the next downsizing venture. We’re “small” now (well, after the traveling)…is “tiny” next? Who knows! ox Aunt Susan

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