Frugal Living

How To Price Garage Sale Items

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price garage sale items

Pricing for a garage sale can be hit or miss these days so it’s always important as a buyer to keep your eyes open to score a great deal. Now that the sun is out in full force It’s that time of year again where garage sale signs are popping up all over the neighbourhoods.

I urge you to keep in mind the garage sale health Canada warning of what you can and can’t sell to the public at a garage sale when pricing your garage sale items.

A garage sale might even be on your agenda of “things to do” if you want to get organized and downsize items from inside your own home. I always say, “Out with the old and in with the New” but there’s not much in with the new in our house. If it hasn’t been used in 6 months to a year we may sell it or  give it away for free.

Pricing is one of the toughest tasks when it comes to having a garage sale, especially if you are looking to make a decent profit. We have also been to garage sales and talked to sellers who get items for free using coupons  such as shampoo, deodorant  laundry soap, body, toothpaste etc and are reselling them to make a 100% profit.

Don’t dismiss used products either because we have noticed half used products with price tags such as perfumes, test tube perfumes, body shop and bath and body works products. If it can potentially sell, someone will sell it. Store closings are another popular way to sell products for reduced prices at garage sales in mass quantities. We once went to a dollar store garage sale where products that were once $1 were now $0.10 each.

As a seller you want to make sure what you are placing on your tables for sale are adequately priced for the nature of the item. If your goal is to have a successful garage sale, meaning all the items are gone than you have to plan your garage sale in advance.

Holding a garage sale takes time and for many homeowners and renters lots of effort goes into the planning stages from pricing to advertising a garage sale online, in newspapers and going street to street, intersection to intersection and taping Yard Sale or Garage Sale signs to utility posts.

One of the worst things you can do is advertise your garage sale online and forget to put the address, time or date. Here is a garage sale ad example that is easy to market and will potentially get you traffic. Don’t be shy to add a bit of humour into your post so the buyers know you are welcoming and friendly.

What else do you think should be in this garage sale ad?


Garage Sale ad example


Moving Sale

Your City-Huge Garage Sale, Saturday May 19, 2013, rain or shine beginning at 7 am running until noon on My Street Crescent. It is located in the South end of the Your City. Attached please see the Google Map.

Items for sale range from baby clothes for girls  1x-6x and boys infants to gardening tools, home decor, books, large rugs, king size bedding etc. No Early Birds, or I’ll have to cage you and sell you for a negotiated price! Bake Sale being held by our children with chocolate chip cookies for sale so bring your appetite. Everyone Welcome!!

Who Goes To Garage Sales?

Garage sales are for everyone and the “poor people” stereotype that we sometimes hear is the wrong attitude to have. Remember you can’t judge a person from their clothes, their car and where they shop. You shouldn’t judge people, period.

You do get the odd snotty homeowner who looks down at you but who cares, not like you will ever see them again. I surely don’t give a toss what anyone thinks especially if they are selling me something for a good price.

People of all ages and incomes are going house to house in a mad dash to grab the good stuff before it’s gone. Home designers, home staging professionals and those that just want to hunt for items that they don’t want to buy new are coming out to join in on the action.

Even when the homeowner states “no early birds” they always seem to make their way to the sale before it opens. Why? We want in line before the next people get there and to scope out what items are on the table if even from a distance.

There are also people who pick up free stuff on the side of the road or from free-cycle and resell it at garage sales. The theory is if the original homeowner didn’t want to sell it, someone else will if they can make a buck from it.

Garage sale pricing

In all honesty there is not a garage sale pricing guide set in stone that you can hop online and research. That guide would be the biggest consumer guide to ever land on the planet earth. It’s up to you to make your own garage sale pricing list as it will be customized to the items you have.

Price garage sale items according to your knowledge and don’t try to think you can get all or most of your money back for items because you will be sadly mistaken.

People don’t go to garage sales to pay near full price, they want bargain basement prices, so discount, discount, discount. If that means you haggle (which is almost 100% going to happen) then negotiate towards a price you are both comfortable with.

No one says you have to accept an offer but if you’re like me you sure as heck don’t want to lug all that stuff back in the house waiting for the next garage sale that you host. Negotiating doesn’t sound so bad after all now does it. What many people do is in the last hour or so of a garage sale they deeply discount items in hopes to move them faster.

It’s important to be realistic about the items you are selling because most homeowners know how the product was used or handled. You also know how old it is, how much you paid for it and how long ago you purchased it.

If you are selling items that are ancient history (no longer manufactured) consider a very reasonable price as the buyer likely can’t get parts or they will be costly.

Garage sale price tags

If you are looking for ideas on price tags to use you can buy stickers at your local dollar store which helps ease the pain when people ask you how much you want for an item.

You can also colour code the items with round stickers using blue for $1.00, Red for $2.00 and so on or you can write on them like in my cover photo above. 

You will see the investment book I bought “The Rules Of Wealth” listed for $2 written on a sticker.

If you feel better holding on to a master list in case stickers tend to fly away or rub off that might also be a good idea.

The last thing you need while people are trying to hustle you for a deal on something is an item that is not priced and you are left guessing what price you had it listed at. You don’t want to lose money so be prepared.  

Alternatively I’m sure you can find some free printable garage sale price tags but I’d still hit up the dollar store, less effort, time and ink when it only costs $1.00 at the shop.

How To Price Garage Sale Items

Let’s just think about this for a moment. If there really is a someone who has a master list of garage sale prices how on earth did they come up with those prices.

Pricing for products differ all over the world and in some cases city to city, province to province, state to state. Some people pay taxes on items others don’t.

What one person values an item at another won’t see it’s worth, better yet they may and you might not if you aren’t on top of your game.

I would think it’s near to impossible to figure out pricing for garage sale items but there are a few things you can do in order to figure out the average garage sale prices for something you might want to sell.

1. Research

What I would suggest is if you are concerned about a specific item, then do your research. Say for example, if you have a bunch of items on a table that you no longer want and you were given them as a wedding gift.

You likely have no idea what they cost because you didn’t pay the bill for them.

Look them up on-line to see if you can find any pricing information on the product.

You can also search Kijiji, Craigslist or EBay to see what other sellers are selling the product for. You can average your garage sale prices that way if it makes you feel more comfortable.

2. Price To Sell

From our experience with garage sales is that if you want to get rid of the crap that you have no space for or is collecting dust, price it to sell.

The minute you start thinking about how much money you are losing is the time when you will be hauling all that junk back in your house.

I say junk because to most homeowners it is junk unless they are selling it to make more money to buy more stuff or they in fact need the cash to pay for the bills.

We sold a load of flowers for example last year and that money is going towards our landscaping project.

Everyone knows that stores and grocery stores market products to customers in such a way that they think they are getting a better deal.

Let’s see.. an example would be 2/$1.00 or 1 for $0.75, immediately you would say, hey, I’ll take 2 then, it’s cheaper. Use the same marketing as the big guys with items you have to move them out faster.

If you paid $20 for an item and it’s well used then sell it for a reasonable percentage of the original price. There are no hard, fast and steady rules when it comes to pricing,  it’s your choice.

You can use the percentage rule according to ehow, meaning price garage sale items at 10% of the original cost. Again, it’s not written in stone.

3. Ask Someone

If you aren’t sure where a product has come from or you don’t know what it is or it’s age don’t be shy to ask.

I’m sure there are many online forums you can take a picture of the item of and post it for feedback.

It doesn’t hurt to ask because you never know what you are holding on to and if it’s worth money.

How many times have we heard about people scoring a great deal at a garage sale only to find out it was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Don’t make that mistake, especially if you are sitting on a gold mine. Worst case, don’t sell it until you know all the facts.

Garage sale season

We happen to love other people’s junk at garage sales and find some spectacular deals starting from the May two-four weekend right up until October when most pack it in for the season.

Here are a few items we picked up this past week …. including the cover photo!

The Rules of Wealth finance book (ya, told you I would read one this month) was $2.00 and I negotiated $1.00 which was still great considering the book price is $19.99 and it’s never even been opened before.

I know I could have rented it from the library for free but consider my time and petrol to pick it up and return it and the fact that it’s not mine.

I can take all the time in the world to read this and then raffle it off for a fan to enjoy!! Well worth the $1.00 investment if you ask me.

The plant stand cost us $3.00 down from $5.00 and the other thingamabob was $0.50 which we use in our kitchen to put our scrub brushes etc in on the counter.

Money Tree

A Succulent Money Tree for $0.50 for Charity

Large Wicker Basket

This wicker basket went for $10 but he originally wanted $20 until we bundled up and bought a few other items.

Vintage Bowl and Candle

This Vintage Bowl and Candle Cost us $4.00 with the candle sticker at $9.99 underneath but who knows what they paid for it originally.

It’s still a good deal if you ask me as we couldn’t buy this for $4.00 anywhere new and that’s what it pretty much is, new.

If you are still unsure how to price items for a garage sale then don’t sell them until you know.

If you won’t be able to sleep at night knowing that you sold an item that might be worth money… keep indoors.

If you have a set price sometimes it’s better to sell on Kijiji, Craigslist or EBay as you might get what you want for the  item.

You can sell items any time you like at a garage sale or by using online  sites like Kijiji, Ebay, Craigslist and other forums but you can’t get the item back once it’s gone.

Don’t be afraid to have a garage sale especially if you are not sure how to price garage sale items. Just take your time, plan it out and smile because every customer likes a homeowner who is friendly and ready to conduct business.

If you have kids get them involved too by making and selling baked goods at a garage sale or having a juice stand for your customers while teaching your child about money management and small profitable business ventures.

Discussion: What other tips do you have for pricing garage sale items?

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  1. For us complete novices, I would rather see an “Enter Your Item Here” box, that would give you at least a base Cdn price due to “poor, good, medium, excellent condition” and “Brand or Brand unknown” when you have absolutely no idea what price to ask for to sell, then it would be up to the seller to sell higher or lower. For example, I have a large Centro barbeque (non-Gas) that has rarely been used even though I have had it for many years. I have no idea what price I should ask to sell. This also applies to a full set of men’s golf clubs that I have. I saw on another web site that the golf clubs set should be priced at $25 or $4 per club, which I found ludicrous. Most of the letters in your web site do not help me at all especially pertaining to large items like this.

    1. Hi Anne,
      Thanks for your comment. I do have to say that I’m not sure what you are talking about. If you are a seller simply Google the item you are selling if you want to know a price so you can decide what to sell your product for. This post is for sellers at a garage sale. Sorry I couldn’t be of help to you.

  2. hi there what do you price things out at when all of your stuff is new never used in the packaging . thanks

    1. I look at current cost in the store, I look online Kijiji to see what others are selling it for or you can just price it to move so about 75% off the retail price. It depends the product too. If it’s worth $$$ you may want to do research.

      1. I do haggle! I can’t remember exactly on this particular garage sale run what the before prices were, but I remember only having a certain amount left and offering to buy what I wanted for that price. And they said yes. I also haggled on some ties I wanted for my hubby. I wanted to pay no more than 50 cents a piece. The man told me he wanted 2$ a piece. They were not at all worth that to me, so I walked away. The key to haggling is you have to be able to walk away!

  3. Great article. And you’re right about the wide variety of garage sale clientele; I know many wealthy people who are wealthy b/c they do their shopping at garage sales!! Also right about pricing to sell – remember, if it doesn’t sell, you’ll likely be giving or throwing it away, so even a few cents is better than nothing! The one thing I would add is beware of shoplifters!! We saw this a few times during our city-wide garage sales back in the suburbs. Unbelievable!

  4. Very good ariticle.

    I always try to price the things that I know will sell fast, like machinery or really nice toys, a little higher. I know it will sell fast, and if it doesn’t, I can make adjustments a little later.

    I try to avoid selling things to the “early birds,” or even letting them look at my items. I think they are just in it for the super good deal and aren’t interested in paying a fair price.

  5. From my experience of helping with charity yard sales vs hosting one myself, I’ve noticed that people will pay way more at a charity sale that for a private sale. I realize they are essentially making a donation, but junk is junk, so I’d say shop wisely, even at garage sales. For my own private sales, I want it all to go away, so it’s usually priced pretty cheaply unless it is a great item I could sell on Ebay if the yard sale doesn’t work.

  6. I like that planter up top!!! What are you going to do with the table too???? My sister-in-law has a garage sale every year or two. When ever she feels like it. She loves kijiji!!!!! When we wanted to sell our trailer we just took it to her place and she sold it for us on kijiji. She’s already said if there is anything else we want to get rid of she would sell it for us. I’m sure my nephew will be doing the garage sales this year as he doesn’t have much at all and that includes money….He’s been furnishing his place with freebies so far. As I clear stuff out here I’ve been taking it to thew Thrift store a bag or two at a time….saves me having piles of stuff hanging around waiting for a garage sale. The younger boy used to work at the thrift store and honestly…..they hated garage sale season!!! Mostly because people wouldn’t take their stuff back inside after the sale……… they just brought all the leftover junk and dumped it out back of the store…Some one would have to check the store late Sat/ early Sunday and haul all the stuff inside, then later most of it would have to be hauled to the landfill as it was truly junk. They had to pay to haul the stuff there too!!! Their truck but they had to pay to dump it all at the landfill……..

  7. When we did a group one – we found stickers handy. And make sure everyone helping out generally knows the prices so you don’t have to run and ask anyone!

  8. I have just recently discovered your website and find it very useful. I’m a frugal stay at home mom.
    I found this article of interest since I am trying to sell some used Thomas trains which my son has outgrown on Kijiji and was looking for helpful tips on how to best sell them.
    I usually donate most of his toys so someone else can use them but thought I would try to sell them and earn some money to use towards something else.

  9. We’ve never done a garage sale, though I imagine that we could hold a few with all of the junk we have collected over the last several years, Lol! We tend to sell most of our stuff on Craigslist as it’s easier for us to do it piecemeal like that as opposed to all at once. As an aside, I actually read an article last year from a guy who supposedly became a millionaire from doing garage sales…his first tip was to never price items you’re selling as it gives you greater opportunity to haggle. I don’t know if I believe it or not, but who knows.

    1. I find that you will make more money selling on line than at a garage sale as garage sale pricing can get pretty low where on Kijiji and Craigslist you can get a bigger portion back.

  10. The past 2 summers we have held a garage sale on our front lawn, to benefit a grandchild’s baton group. Another granddaughter wanted to set up a lemonade stand at each sale, and we discovered that Sunkist would send her a lemonade stand kit, free of charge. Though the kit was made of cardboard, it was very sturdy, 3-sided so she could sit behind it, and caught the attention of potential buyers quickly. The only (justifiable) catch is that the child had to identify who will receive the funds, eg charity or baton group or . . . It would be well worth googling Sunkist to see if they still offer the kits, Hope this will help another child to have a classy lemonade stand this summer.

    1. That’s awesome Mary!! I had no idea Sunkist would do that and it’s a great way to advertise their product so a small cost for a big impact. Smart move for the company if you ask me. I’m going to look into that Mary. Thanks for sharing! Mr.CBB

  11. I’ve been working on pricing items for a garage sale I’m planning in June. I found some pre-printed price stickers at the dollarstore and I’ve been using those, what a time saver! The biggest issue I’m having is what to price things because I want to make a bit of money, I also know if you price things too high they won’t sell but you also have to leave room for haggling, its an interesting juggling act. You also have to be willing to sell things for practically nothing, the idea is to get it out of your house! Thanks for this guide!

    1. That’s just it… leave a bit of room for negotiating if you plan to do so and move the stuff out. If you make a deal people will take it. NO sense hanging on to it for another year. You’re welcome!!

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