Clean up – with a Garage Sale


Hands on hip I survey my surrounds with a sense of deep satisfaction and personal achievement. Neat, tidy with everything in its place. There is nothing like a good clean.

“Wait, what is that? Didn’t I pack that in the garage? And that? Wasn’t that put into the cupboard?”

Suddenly I’m not so satisfied. All I’ve done is move things, albeit in a tidy manner, from one place to another only to have ‘helpful others’ dig them out and re-distribute them around the house.

Determination sets in. It’s time to clean up with a garage sale. Get some money and put it to good use – the thought crosses my mind of a pedicure, manicure, facial, or maybe some shoes? After all the effort, whatever the reward, it will be more than well deserved. However a successful garage sale requires effort – lots of it.


What, where, when, how, who? From initial clean up to final clear out – allocate tasks and set the rules for each phase. Make sure there is only one person in charge – you. No arguments!

Rule – if you want it done, plan it.


You’re going to have a lot of help in determining what and who to spend the money on. Make sure you get the same amount of help earning it. There is nothing worse than no-one being available on the day due to “prior arrangements”. Identify and allocate each task.

Rule – to benefit in the ‘spend’ you must fully participate.


So many options, but the basic ones below will suffice:

  • Newspaper advert – address, date and time. Time is important otherwise you’ll have dealers knocking on your door before you’ve even woken up.
  • Street signs – home made “Garage Sale” with an arrow and/or address. Don’t forget to take these down when it’s over. You won’t appreciate being disturbed for the rest of the day, weekend, etc. once it’s over.
  • Flyers – to drop off with neighbours. It’s polite to let them know and they may even participate in a street garage sale, help you with yours or be potential buyers.

Rule – advertising pays. There is little point in having a garage sale if no one knows about it.

Clean up

Allocate an area of the house (don’t forget outdoor areas and sheds) to each participant. You’ll have to be firm, no ‘hidey-holes’ for favourite things (you know their secret places) to reappear from after the sale. Ask:

  • When did you last use it?
  • When/where will you use it again?
  • Do you still need to use it?

Collect all the items for your garage sale in one, pre-determined room/area.

Rule – if you are not using it then you are losing it.


People base their opinions on what they see. The better it looks the more likely they are to buy it – at a good price! Check:

  • Is it properly cleaned?
  • Is it displayed to advantage?
  • Is the garage sale area accessible and tidy?

Rule – clean and smart = tidy price.


Because they say, “One person’s junk is another person’s treasure”, does not mean people will pay a fortune for your junk. Sometime junk is…well just junk. If you have a collectable have it appraised sell it to a shop before the garage sale – everything else, have a look at Trade Me and lower price accordingly. Don’t let yourself get emotionally involved in the pricing.

Price using coloured stickers (red = $2, green = $5, etc.), by group/type of item or by area. Make it simple for yourself and your buyers.

Rule – you are going to sell it or donate it today. Give people a reason to buy it or accept nothing when you donate it.


Some people love them, others hate them. They arrive early and want things for next to nothing. They are traders, they will not pay retail, they need to make a profit. Accept it and either say “No Dealers” in your advertising or set a dealers’ discount beforehand.

Rule – the dealer price is where you are both uncomfortable with the price but happy to do a deal.


You’ve cleaned up the house and at the garage sale … now it’s time to clear out. Donating is win/win – you get the pleasure of giving to others and de-cluttering and they get the goods to sell or use as they see fit.

Rule – don’t forget your initial purpose was to get it out of the house for good.


Divide up the ‘spoils’ from the garage sale and enjoy.

My top tip – regardless of how much you make, treat yourself to some pampering. You’ve earned it and you are worth it.