In the middle of fall cleaning? Expecting holiday guests and need to make your spare room available again?  Maybe you decided it would be nice to use garage for car storage instead of junk storage! Whatever your motivation, having a good, old-fashioned garage sale may be just the right answer. If you’ve never had the pleasure of putting on a garage sale, you might think, “Well, how hard can it be?” The answer depends on two things: your motivation and your organization. Following the five steps below is likely to help you with both.

1. Plan Well: Before you get too carried away, it’s a good idea to take stock of the items you would like to get rid of. How much stuff do you have? If you have a small to medium amount of goodies, ask your neighbors, family members, or friends if they would like to join the sale. Extra stuff may also mean extra help! It’s hard to draw many people to stop at your sale without an enticing layout for them to peruse. If, ultimately, you don’t have enough for a good sale, you might consider donating your items to charity. The tax deduction may be better for you financially than the garage sale proceeds. Another option, if you only have a few bigger items is listing them on Craigslist or similar sites.

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2. Organize Your Items: Establish a spot in your home to stage all your sale items about a week in advance. Obviously if you have a garage with space, that is the best spot. I know, duh. Keep your items sorted as you go: clothing together, baby things together, furniture together, etc. This will make setting up go much faster and smoother. If you have other people contributing items, give them a firm deadline to get their items to you so you can include those in your advanced sorting.

3. Clean Up and Price: Once you have all your items collected, it’s time for cleaning and pricing. Yes, clean them up. Things sell better if they aren’t presented under three years of dust! Once cleaned, start pricing. If you go to garage sales regularly, you’ll have a good idea of where to price your items. This varies depending on your region or even your neighborhood. If you been “garage sailing” in a while, hit a few before you have yours. Remember that folks are looking for bargains, so try not to price emotionally. Painter’s tape provides a convenient way to price your items without damaging the finish—and it’s easy to remove, which the buyers will appreciate. Also consider bundling like items in a clear bag and pricing them in bulk.

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4. Plan the Layout: A couple of days before, think about how you would like to present your items. Make sure you have ample tables, etc. that you will need to set up your sale. Neat and organized sales where it’s easy to look through items and see what is actually there usually make a lot more money. Many people don’t like to have to paw through boxes of stuff looking for items. So try to make it as easy as you can for people to see the items you actually have.

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5. Advertise: How you do this step can vary greatly depending on where you live. If you have community boards in your grocery and discount stores, hang signs advertising your sale a few days ahead of time. Clearly indicate the date and time of the sale. Make sure your address is easily visible. Believe it or not, I have seen signs for sales without an address. Makes you go “hmmm,” doesn’t it? You can also take out a small classified in the garage sale section of your local paper or on sites like Craigslist. Finally, place signs around your neighborhood early the day of your sale. Make sure they are big enough to read as drivers pass by and that the address and hours are clearly marked.

Good luck with your garage sale. I hope these tips help you prevent some mistakes I have made and get the most money for your time and stuff. My main advice is to plan ahead. Enlist some help and have fun! I promise you will enjoy returning your garage back to its intended purpose.

Now what will you do next to love where you live?