17 Tips for Great Garage Sale Pricing

“Harder than it seems,” might be the best way to describe pricing items for your garage or yard sale. The task masquerades as a no-brainer, until the morning of the sale, when you're surrounded by all that stuff. Don’t let this important element of garage sale success surprise you. To price items effectively, it pays to be prepared. Begin setting prices ahead of time.


The first order of business is to forget what you paid for it. Forget how much you loved it. Forget your grandmother bought it. To make good money at a garage sale you must price to sell in the proverbial sweet spot: the highest going rate. This will dictate your own lowest price, which is actually much easier than it seems.

Check out these 17 tips, so you can say goodbye to unwanted stuff and hello to some extra cash.

1. Find an Item’s Lowest Price
Visit a few garage sales. A neighborhood sale is convenient for viewing a variety of items at once. Consider things with an eye towards the lowest selling prices.

2. Estimate Using the Percent Rule
Instead of shopping to find the going rate for things, use the percent rule. Pricing this way will give you a simple bottom. Pricing at 20 percent of the original price is traditional for items in good condition. However, the market for used items is strong now. It’s common to see products selling at up to 50 percent of the purchase price. When determining the percentage, consider which items will likely move quickly and which will end up on the curb with a free sign.

3. Leave Room for Haggling
Many people make a sport of haggling for the lowest price; don’t be put off by these buyers; Prepare for negotiating by adding a fixed amount to your lowest price so you have “room to move.” Some people will go as high as double their lowest price. For example, if you plan to sell a piece of furniture for $20, price it at $40. Aim for the highest you can get without scaring people away.

4. Just Want to Unload It All?
The point of many garage sales is simply to get rid of stuff, which is a worthy goal. Let people know if you don’t want to deal with haggling. Label everything at your bottom price and offer bulk discounts. You’ll attract shoppers to buy while unloading the maximum amount of stuff.

5. Make Use of Markdowns
Setting your prices higher than your bottom price provides you with the opportunity to “slash prices” at the end of the day. A big sign reading, “Everything $1” will clear your yard faster than you can say supercalifragilisticbargain. You can even lure people back later in the day by mentioning you’ll reduce prices at a set time.

6. Find an Item’s Highest Price
Set a competitive price on popular or collectible items by searching eBay and Craigslist. Your lowest price will be closer to an item’s current value; however, plan to mark it with an even higher starting price. Serious collectors are usually willing to pay for that special something.

7. Beware the Reseller Rip-off
People make a tidy profit from buying low at yard sales and selling high on the Internet. Deal with these buyers by doing the same research described above. Pay attention to the actual selling price of online-auction items; Set your lowest price at about half. You’ll maximize your profit and the buyer will still get a sweet deal.

8. Does the Local Thrift Store Undercut Your Sale?
Nobody will want to shop your garage sale if the prices are higher than thrift stores, like ARC or Goodwill, or your local second-hand shops. Bargain shoppers know the going rate so visit your local stores to make sure your prices are fair.

9. Seasonal Rates Apply
Are you having a spring sale? Feel free to bump up the price for pool toys, flippers, sporting goods and other summer items. Fall sale prices can be higher for the snow boots, sleds and ski gear.

10. Match Prices in Community Sales
In a community garage sale, it’s unwise to compete against your neighbors. Check around for similar items and agree on a like price. If one item appears to be in better shape, agree on the difference for the nicer item.

11. Show the Savings
For a particularly valuable item, such as furniture still available in a catalog, tear out the page and pin it to the item. It’s visual proof you’re offering a great deal.

12. Sell Most Items for Less Than $5
Generally speaking, garage sale shoppers expect to pay $5 or less. It’s easier to sell more stuff when you’ve priced things at $2 or $3. To this end, try grouping items. For example, set the price of three books at $5. You’ll be amazed at how quickly these sales add up.

13. Price Everything Separately
Avoid using table pricing. If someone brings you an item and hands you $1, will you remember which table it came from? What if it was from the $5 table? Most shoppers prefer to see things individually priced, rather than having to ask. It also puts you in the power position with hagglers. It’s much easier to negotiate down than up.

14. Use Blue Tape
Blue painter’s tape works perfectly as price tags because it doesn’t stick permanently and the blue color is eye-catching. A black permanent marker shows up well, and one roll should cover the job. If you want to mark down items at the end of the day, make the space larger by using a longer strip of tape so there will be room to add another price.

15. Make a List
Keep an inventory of what you have and mark things off as they’re sold. By doing this, you’ll have a record of the actual selling prices. It’s also a great feeling to add up your total at the end of the day. (You might use this printable inventory list.)

16. Sell Something High
It’s not unusual to have something you‘d like to sell at a high price, such as nearly-new photography equipment. You may not even mind if it doesn’t sell. It could serve its purpose just by looking great in the yard and attracting customers. On these items, mark the price as “firm.” Many people will pass it over, but that one word will save you from hagglers. And you never know, it might sell for what you‘re asking. (You can draw more drive-by customers by placing this item close to the curb.)

17. Foster a Free Bin
A box of free items, like toys and children’s clothing, will attract families. While kids are busy searching for treasures, parents are able to look more carefully at your sale. Plus, it’s wonderful to see the pure joy on children’s faces when they find an old toy fire truck or stuffed elephant.

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