Chic on a Shoestring Decorating: 31 Days of Decorating on a Shoestring Budget Day 12: Have a Garage Sale

This blog contains affiliate links. If you click one and make a purchase, I may make a commission at no additional cost to you. Read more here.

31 Days of Decorating on a Shoestring Budget Day 12: Have a Garage Sale

TGIF lovely friends!   Welcome back to my 31 day series of decorating your home on a shoestring budget.  Today we're going to talk about an easy way to earn money to give your shoestring budget a little boost!

Here in the Midwest garage sale season is winding down but there is still time!  If you live in the South you're good for a garage sale any time.  Today I'm going to share my best tips for having a successful garage sale.

Cleaning and de-cluttering your home is a great way to prepare your home for a fresh new look.  Why not earn money while you're at it?!  I made $1200 this summer in one sale, here's how....

I told you about my love/hate relationship with garage sales and why you really should have one despite the pain of it HERE I hate having a garage sale but love the money it earns and the junk it gets out of my house.

My garage sale this year was huge!  I think I had one meeellion items!!  I unfortunately did not make one meeellion dollars.  But I made some tall cash for a garage sale making over twelve hundred dollars in only 15 hours of sale time.  Do the math... that's $80 bucks an hour.

I'll take it!

I didn't have many big ticket items, I sold a few $20 items but my biggest seller was baby/kid clothes.  I finally decided to part with the baby clothes this year.  It was very bittersweet going through both of my little guys clothes and I even got a little teary-eyed when I opened that bin of itty-bitty newborn stuff.  I saved a few special outfits and then, after I got over the feeling sad part it was more like a panicking "Holy cow! How am I gonna get through all these clothes and where the heck am I going to put them in this garage!?"  type of feeling.

I unloaded one average size bin (about a 20 gallon bin) of baby clothes and it took up almost a whole 9 foot table!  

So I need about fifteen 9 feet tables just for baby clothes....

I have 3.  

Plan B:  Make do with what you got... I didn't have that many tables and I didn't have that much hanging space but I did have plenty of bins. I decided to put the bins to work.  I put like sizes in labeled bins and let people dig through them.  I made sure to pin outfits together with safety pins so they wouldn't get separated.

At first I felt bad about this not being a very neat way to do it but I realized even if I had everything nicely folded and displayed on a table it would be trashed in 5 minutes.  

I planned on printing neat little labels for the bins but my printer ran out of ink.  (I refuse to buy more because I ordered some for a ridiculously cheap price online but I think it's coming from China because I ordered it weeks ago and it still isn't here. I don't have time to go to the store anyway, I'm preparing for a garage sale!)  I opted for a Sharpie and printer paper...


Do you like how it my sign is taped on crooked with sloppy writing?  That's what happens when it's 100 degrees in the garage at 1:00am the morning before the sale.

People did not mind rifling through the bins at all, I think they kinda liked it actually.  It was like digging for treasure and they didn't have to fold it back up after they looked at it.

As I said earlier, my sale went really well, we had a great turn out.  I was able to empty all of these...

Post garage sale empty bins!!!

20 bins!!  I was able to unload these 20 bins PLUS several cardboard boxes that I already got rid of!  As you can imagine, this cleared out a ton of space in my storage room.  Everything we didn't sell we donated so nothing had to come back in the house. What a way to unclutter and gain space in your home.  Plus, the money... CHA-CHING!

I've been having pretty good garage sales for the past several years so now I'm obviously a garage sale having expert.  I thought I'd share some of my secret expert garage sale tips with you to make your sale successful too. 


  1. COLLECT:  Gather garage sale items from your home all year.  Yes, all year.  I keep a running storage tote in my basement storage room and when it fills up, I start another one.   Another helpful hint is to price the item as you put it in the storage bin but I have to admit that I'm guilty of not doing it.  Do as I say, not as I do, right?? :)
  2. THE MORE THE MERRIER:  Have a garage sale with others.  Whether your neighborhood has a sale or you just ask a few neighbors on your street, the more sales in an area bring a larger crowd.  I always have a better turnout when there are more houses involved.
  3. ADVERTISE:  Place a free ad in Craig's List at least a week prior to the sale.  Add pictures of big items to draw people but expect to have people email you about buying stuff early.  Place an additional ad the day before the sale.  Also, place an ad in your local paper.  I know this can be pricey but if you're splitting the cost with a few neighbors it's well worth it.  Our local paper runs their garage sale ads on their website as well so even people who don't subscribe can look up the sales.
  4. SIGNS:  Make good signs!  I live in a neighborhood that gets significant traffic past the entry.  I always place a large sign that can be read by passing cars there.  Many people coming and going will stop by because they followed my signs.  List address, dates and times of sale.   If your house is off the beaten path put signs on busy intersections near your home. 
  5. PRICE:  Try to price everything!  Many people will not ask if an item isn't priced (are they scared of me??)  which can mean lost sales.  If you don't have time (or patience) to price everything use a system like "All kids shirts $1, all shoes $1, etc.,"  This is what I did with overwhelming amount of baby clothes.  Make sure your pricing signs are easy to see or people may just think nothing is priced, look at you, get scared, then walk away.  (Just kidding!  Wanted to make sure you were paying attention. :)
  6. PREPARE:  Set up early.  If you have lots of stuff to sell start setting up in your garage 2 weeks in advance (especially if your main job is taking care of small children, not garage sale-ing).  I set up a week before the sale and spent some late nights in the garage (partly because I had to price everything, see above number 1), could have definitely used the extra week.  This will help you be organized when the sale starts and those early birds inevitably show up.
  7. HANG:  Hang clothes up.  My ingenious hubs, Mr. Chic, hung 2 bicycle hooks in the ceiling, he suspended 2 strong metal chains from the hooks and added a wooden pole.  This works perfect to hang clothes and then easily stores out of the way but putting the pole up in the bike hooks.  People do not like to dig through piles of messed up clothes (they will not stay folded no matter how often you refold them, trust me on this) on a table.
  8. DISPLAY:  Place like items together, housewares, holiday items, cds and dvds.  It's easier for people to find what they're looking for.
  9. PLACEMENT:  Put large desirable items down toward the end of your driveway.  This will draw attention to your home and hopefully draw people in to shop!  Some people do the opposite and place desirable items in the back of the sale so customers have to walk through the whole sale (maybe picking up more to buy) to get what they want.  Tricky, tricky, tricky
  10. MONEY:  Have lots of small bills and change.  Someone gave me a $100 and two $50's last weekend (after I'd had some business thankfully) and I was able to cash them, barely.  Also, it's a good idea to have a screwdriver and batteries on hand in case someone wants to test a toy.  
  11. TIME:  Have your garage sale on the first day that people start having sales in your area.  Around here people start on Thursday afternoon, run all day Friday, then Saturday morning.  Thursday is always, always my best day. 
What to sell besides the obvious....

JEWELRY:  I sell tons of old jewelry, you know, the fake stuff you buy at Target, not like real diamonds.

MAKEUP:  I know, you're thinking GROSS!  I'm talking about the new pieces you get in the "freebie" stuff from Clinique and the like with purchase.  I sell mine at $3 a piece and people bought it like crazy!  Just make sure you put "New, unused" on the sign with it.

TOILETRIES:  I know, another weird one but people will pay for half used shampoo/conditioners, lotions, hairsprays, whatever.  I stick to the same hair products but every once in awhile I get a wild hair (get it?!) to try out something new that will make my hair smooth/shiny/full/voluminous/curly.  Inevitably, it won't work and I won't like it.  Why throw out a perfectly good bottle of stuff when someone else may be able to use it.  I sold ALL of my toiletries items.

SNACKS:  If it's hot sell ice cold bottled water for .50 cents.  Set them out in a cooler with ice so people can see them.   Involve your kiddos, make some cookies or lemonade and let your little ones learn about business and handling money, plus it will keep them busy.

I'm always surprised at what people buy.  The stuff I think will fly out doesn't sell, the junky crappy stuff that I'm half embarrassed to sell always flies out the door.  Again proving the old adage that one man's trash is truly another man's treasure.

Have I convinced you to have a sale yet??

What are your best garage sale tips?

Did you miss the first 11 days of my series?  Find them here:


  1. Enjoying your blog. Will continue to follow. Happy Fall~Jen (would love to have you as a follower too)

  2. Like all the ideas in this post.
    What do you use to price your items? Masking tape, stickers, tags?

    Thanks for this post,


I L-O-V-E love your comments! :) I read and try to respond to every one! Thanks for taking your precious time to leave me a comment.

My faves...

09 10 ""