How to

How To Have A Successful Garage Sale

We started doing a garage sale 3 years ago before our big move from my in laws’ house to our humble home. It was my very first sale since I am big on just donating stuff or giving them away to previous helpers which I always find successful in terms of unloading things. No stress, no fuss.

But 2014 was a bit rough for us financially and since we needed the extra cash, I figured why not sell this time around. So I sorted our clothes (mostly mine), shoes, bags, toys, and this is where I realized we all had this stuff that has been sitting around in our tiny little room for years! Those neglected stuff though earned us P7,000 total from that specific garage sale alone and somewhere around P20,000 total from all the sales followed thereafter. How?

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Our attic used to be empty, but looked what I found there! Treasures!

Decide on your Goal.

In doing anything— whether starting a business, writing a book or cleaning the house, we always have a target in mind. For example: target income, target sales, target chore to finish. Without a goal, all the energy we put into working on something is useless. I believe that the reason why it is always easy for me to do a garage sale is because my end goal is to dispose of my excess baggage. I never depend on the sales that I will make. The money I will be earning from the things I’ve already enjoyed in the past is just a bonus that comes along with my goal. If it’s income that I wanted, I would rather join in bazaars or sell online which usually takes a lot of work and would sometimes mean shelling out monetary investment.

When selling, people would always want to get if not the same, more than the amount they paid for. You think, it’s good business, right? But after watching Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things, I realized that it’s not about financial gain but financial freedom. We care so much on how much we can earn from what used to be the most expensive shirt in our closet but if you’d go back to the day you saw it on that retail rack, it doesn’t matter if it’s 50, 500 or 5,000, you are getting it any other way.

I’m not going to deny it, I love shopping. The first time we had to sell, it was not easy for me to let go of my favorites but worn out clothes. It was a battle between my heart and mind that if I’m going to sell this, I must sell it at this xxx amount, you know, just to feel good. Four garage sales later I have come to a conclusion that the market is not always willing to pay more for second hand stuff. So give your customers a good deal, that kind where they won’t think of going to a tiangge instead. I sell our stuff somewhere between P10-P50 for toys, shoes, and clothes and nothing more than P500 for small appliances that are perfectly working. Guess what? I think we’ve made a name in our village that people started looking forward to our next sale!

TIP: Use a colored paper and print a striking, presentable and readable ads/flyers. Include teasers like the items you’d be selling and at what price you’d be selling them. See sample and free printable ad below.

sample ad
Sample Ad.

Free Printable Garage Sale Ad

Decide which Goods to sell.

As I’ve said, this is the real struggle. The hardest battle ever— should I sell or should I store (go ahead and sing it).

Matthew 6:19-21

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Most women (like me) and some men (not my husband) play this game of boxes where they store out of season clothes and the ones they love so much that they hold on to a promise that someday, they get to fit in them again. But who are we kidding? I bet you can’t even remember what those clothes looked like anymore because years have passed since you boxed and stored them in your attic. I, personally share the same sentiment whenever I have new clothes and see how our tiny closet is starting to fill up. I would take the ones that I don’t think matches the rainy (or summer) season and put them in my BOGO plastic boxes which by the way I have already filled up previously and would be surprised to see clothes that I didn’t think I have.

In the same documentary, they explained how advertising and retail stores play us. The fast paced wardrobe scene is so demanding that we were once told to dress up for 2 season is now a 52 season industry. And because of social media and the #OOTD era, women developed this thinking that we shouldn’t be caught wearing the same clothes twice (or more) in photos. Guilty as charged, the film made me realize that people consume more than what the world can sustain. We are so mindless that we keep grabbing more than what the environment can take (i.e. trash, garbage, waste). And honestly, if you’re not willing to recycle, sell, donate, the best thing that you can do is to stop consuming. Buy things that you wouldn’t think of selling, your favorite quality items that would last long. I love how local designers are shifting to more sustainable clothing lines aiming to encourage people to live simply by wearing what is already in your closet. By mixing and matching items, it is proven effective to lessen the stress we accumulate in spending so much time deciding what to put on every morning. Same idea of Project 333 where the author experimented in keeping and using only 33 items in her closet (clothes, shoes, bags, accessories) for 3 months and to her surprise, no one noticed that she was just repeating outfits!

An easy way and an old advice to help you decide if you should let go of the stuff you don’t need is to simply ask yourself this question: did I survive 3 months without using/touching/seeing these things? Because if you did survive, chances are you will no longer look for it in the next months.

And can we talk about stuff at home that we only use if we have guests? I know some elderly readers here can relate to this — PLATES! Have you seen a huge China cabinet in some houses filled with beautiful and expensive looking plates? Or how about keeping a couple of rice cookers, a small one for everyday use and a big one in case you throw a party (and you never do)? Convicted again! We like to hoard so much because we always think of the future that no one knows if it will ever come.

I’m not saying you should stop buying or sell everything (unless you are called to), if you wish to collect books or tea cups because it adds value to your life, by all means, do whatever pleases you. Keep the things that will make you happy and where you’ll get that sense of fulfillment.

TIP: If you are serious in minimizing your closet, go for neutral colors and basic pieces that will never go out of style. Consider durability as well, some people go for branded items not because of the label but because of the material used that last a lifetime, except shoes. Never store shoes unless you have all the money and time to maintain them.

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This was my wedding shoes. No matter how I tried to preserve it, still ended up looking like this.

Decide with the Family, yes including your kids!

If you think the battle between your own heart and mind is hard enough, try breaking a war between the kids and their toys! When our daughter was little, I never considered her opinion every time I dispose of her toys. After a while she would remember them and with a broken heart, she would ask me mommy, where are my toys? I feel like I have violated her freedom and disrespected her in so many ways. Having learned my lesson, I now involve my husband and 2 kids in deciding which ones to sell.

You might be thinking that getting consent from all the people in your household will take a while and slow down the process. Here’s what you can do: assess and gather all the stuff ahead and present to them the things that you feel is not useful anymore. In the same way, you give them time to process and condition themselves on what is going to happen. Let’s admit, kids treat their toys as their most prized possession but we also need to teach them that we don’t own anything in this world, we are just stewards so they don’t get too attached with material things. Of course, my kids don’t always respond positively. After all, they are not perfect and often times they would withhold from selling their toys but I reason with them. I tell them our objective, why are we doing this and that somehow we will make other people happy. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. So far, they are always motivated to do a garage sale because they see the purpose in it.

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2016 Garage Sale with my sister. Dog is not for sale!

TIP: I don’t let the kids play with all their toys at once. I observe which ones they are interested in at the moment and keep the others for later which I find very helpful in minimizing the clutter at home. In the same way, you can use this simple method to easily determine which ones you can sell already. Toys that they haven’t played with in a while usually goes first. 

Lastly, what do you do with the things you didn’t get to sell? Will you force yourself to use them again? Or are you going to put them back in the boxes and store?

In our most recent garage sale, I secretly priced some of my dresses a little higher hoping people will not buy so I can just put them back in my closet. But honestly, I didn’t even looked good on them, I was just feeding my desires of owning a lot of clothes. Realizing it will have an adverse effect on my goal of living in simplicity, I ended up selling those dresses at a much lower price.

With regards to garage sale leftovers, I have this rule that what comes down must not go up. Imagine the time and effort you spent opening each cabinets, all the dust you inhaled, the number of times you took a shower because sorting all of the stuff you wanted to sell will make you filthy and yet you’re thinking of storing them again. No, no, no! We donate what is left and move on.

Sure, it was heartbreaking for me to see my P2,000 dress sold at P20 but garage sales has taught me a very important lesson— that everything on Earth loses its value except the relationships we keep with the people we love.

“You can never get enough of what you don’t really want.”

People build big houses and fill it up with stuff they won’t use. We buy big closets and fill it up with clothes we don’t need. I buy a big bag and think, I need more things to fill this up. As the minimalists have said, we live our life depending on the space we’ve got rather than creating our space to fit our lives.

Now, I don’t know what success means to you but I somehow fixed my heart on something even better than just earning from my trash— the freedom I get after I let go of the material things I no longer need and the sense of self-worth that me and my family are far more than the things we can buy.

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We try to be very resourceful!
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