How to Easily Organize Items for a Garage Sale

Garage sales can be a lot of fun and make you some extra money, but they are also a lot of work. Finding the right items to sell, pricing them appropriately, displaying them so they are easy to see and access, and trying to make the sale takes some planning and preparation.

Go through your home to find items you would like to sell. Put all items in a clean, open space in your home to sort. Group items that are similar, such as; clothing, toys, electronics, furniture, tools, etc. When setting up the garage sale, keep everything separated by group for easier viewing.

For more detailed information about how to find items in your home to sell at your garage sale, what you should not sell, how to price items, what supplies you will need for a successful garage sale, and how to go about selling clothes, keep reading below! 

How to Find Items to Sell at a Garage Sale

When organizing items for a garage sale you will need to start preparing early and have a plan for how to find as many items as possible to sell.

Most people are eager to get cleaning and decluttering in the spring (aka, spring cleaning). This is the perfect time to start going through items. You will be touching and moving around many items anyway, so instead of putting away items that you no longer use. Set them aside immediately for the garage sale.

Get some bins or boxes to put items into as soon as you decide you want to sell them. Set the bins aside for now, as you will be organizing the items into groups closer to garage sale day.

Spring or early summer is the best time to have a garage sale. So you won’t have to store the items for long.

Start preparing at least 2-3 weeks before you plan to have the garage sale. This will ensure you have enough time to find everything you want to sell and leave your home feeling much lighter.

Any areas that you haven’t already gone through when spring cleaning should be looked through quickly. Go room by room and if it’s an item that you never use, put it into the bins.

If you have attic space, a basement, a garage, and/or a shed, make sure to look through those areas as well. Tools, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, etc. can be sold at garage sales and easily taken home.

Items to Consider As You Go Through Your Home

  • Clothes and shoes that are still in great shape that you will never wear again
  • Kid’s clothes that they have outgrown
  • Knick knacks and other home decor that you don’t plan on putting out again.
dishes to sell at garage sale
  • Kitchen items, such as small appliances and dishes
  • Toys that the kids no longer use or have outgrown sell easily at garage sales
  • Are you very crafty? You may be able to sell your knitted or crocheted items, pottery, and artwork that looks professional

What Not to Sell

There are so many items that you can sell at a garage sale and people will gladly buy, but there are some items that you should never try to sell at a garage sale.

Here is a list of what not to sell at a garage sale:

  • Items that require batteries where the batteries leaked in it
  • Items that you know don’t work perfectly
  • Large items that you can not deliver
  • Toys that look really worn out
  • Items that have been repaired in the past (eg. a broken vase that was glued)
  • Antiques, these may sell but you are likely to get more money if you take them to a place that can value them appropriately
  • Textbooks, if still current they can often be taken to the college to sell to students or if they are older, they should go to a library or donation center
  • Plastic containers (other than Tupperware) as they scratch easily and aren’t usually in good enough condition to sell
  • Old electronics, like tube TV’s, VCR’s, cassette players, that nobody really wants anymore
  • Used underwear or underwear out of the package
  • Any ripped or stained clothing
  • Large outdoor equipment, these are better sold at an auction or online, as they are often more expensive than what somebody would spend at a garage sale

If people think you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes, they will just leave, even if everything else is in good shape. So be honest if something isn’t in perfect condition.

Think about how you would feel if you bought an item from somebody and you were really excited and then found out it didn’t work well or it was previously broken. Or there was a stain that you didn’t see when you were looking at the item.

Nobody wants to buy somebody else’s junk. If it’s not in really great shape, just throw it out.

Sorting Items Prior to Garage Sale Day

Now that you have everything set aside that you want to try to sell, set everything out in an open area in your home and begin sorting based on the type of item. All kids clothes should go in one area, all adult clothes in another, toys in another, home decor in another.

Keep going until everything has been sorted into piles.

For now, put everything into bins or boxes based on how you grouped the items. Make sure to label the bins with what is inside the boxes and either set them aside somewhere in your home or move everything out to your garage.

Create a drawing of how you plan to set out the items on garage sale day.

If you know you will have 2 tables, 2 clothing racks, and then blankets for everything else. Draw that and label on the drawing where the items that are currently in the bins are going to go. This will help speed up the process of putting the items on display on garage sale day.

It should flow well, so don’t just plan to put things wherever they fit.

You want to have an area for all clothing. All furniture should be in one area. Any sporting goods in another area. Don’t make people search for anything. They should know exactly where to look to find what they are out searching for.

table set up at garage sale

Some people just like looking, but many people are looking for something specific. If you make it easy to find, they will be much more likely to buy from you.

You may even want to create a sign to put at the entryway to the garage sale that lists out what people can find at your garage sale and exactly where to look!

What Supplies Do I Need for a Garage Sale?

Supplies you may want for your garage sale are; a table or two, a clothing rack, boxes, wrapping paper, bags, bins, masking tape, Sharpie markers, a calculator, and a cash box. 

If you don’t have tables, you can either rent some or ask friends, family or a neighbour if they have any that you could borrow.

If you can’t get any tables, plan to put some blankets down on the grass or driveway and put the items in an organized fashion with easy access to all items for people to view.

A cash box is a great item to rent for the day, so that you have a safe place to keep the money. Make sure to stock the cash box with change and small bills before the garage sale, so that if people don’t have the exact amount, you can give them change back.

cash box for garage sale

Have some extra bags or boxes and paper on hand. If people buy breakable items, it would be a nice touch to wrap those items in paper for them. Bags and boxes would be greatly appreciated for taking many items home from your garage sale! 

Advertising for your garage sale will bring more people to your sale. This can be done by e-mailing friends and family and asking them to spread the word. You could also post on Facebook to local groups or just put a garage sale sign at the corner of your street so that people know to turn there.

How to Display Clothes at a Garage Sale

The best way to display clothes at a garage sale is to rent clothing racks so that you can sort them based on size and colour. Then people can sort through them, similar to the way they would in a store.

A long porch railing is also a great place to hang up clothes if you don’t have a clothing rack.

clothes on a clothing rack

If you can’t get clothing racks, use a table and have different sections based on the sizes. Clearly label the different sizes on the table, so that people know exactly where to go to find what they need.

Fold the clothes nicely, so they look presentable. Sort by the type of clothing (eg. sweaters, pants, dresses) and then by colour.

If you don’t have tables, use the same sorting technique, but use clean blankets to put the clothes on. Leave space to walk in between the sizes for easy access to the clothing items.

Shoes should be close to the where the clothing is.

Choosing & Organizing Baby Clothes

Go through your baby’s dresser, closet, and any other location where they may have some clothing stored. There may be other clothing items that seem to be in the right size range, but don’t actually fit. Put all of that clothing aside.

Check for any stains or rips and then put the clothes in perfect shape aside for the garage sale.

Most people have an excessive amount of baby clothes because they are easy items to gift a new baby. So hanging everything on a clothing rack may not be possible.

First, split the baby clothes out by boy or girl. Make sure to label which area is the boy’s clothing and which area is the girl’s clothing.

Next, sort by the size and then sort by the type. On a table or blanket, put all onesies in one area, all pajamas in another section, all pants in another, and so on. If you want to sort even further, you could separate by colour.

Put the smallest size furthest to the left and the largest to the right.

Label each area so that people can easily see what they are looking for. Make a sign that says “5 items for $4” or “10 items for $6”. This will entice people to buy more since they are getting a deal.

Anything above size 3 (or 3T) should be able to hang on the clothing rack with everything else.

How Do I Price Items for a Garage Sale?

When people are planning a day out to go from garage sale to garage sale, they are looking for really great deals. If your items are not priced appropriately, they will just move over to the next garage sale. So getting this right from the start is important.

Common items that people sell are clothing in all sizes, toys, baby items, furniture, lamps, DVD’s, CD’s, electronic games, gaming systems, sporting goods, kitchen items, small appliances, and books. Make sure DVD’s and CD’s aren’t scratched and work perfectly before trying to sell.

$1-$5 items: 

Clothing generally goes for $1 per item for baby/kid’s clothing and $2-$5 for adult clothing. Brand name clothing could go for as much as half of the original price.

Toys, DVD’s, CD’s, electronic games, and books, small sporting goods such as baseball mitts, baseball bats, sports balls, etc. are also in the $1 to $5 range.

$5-$10 items:

Lamps, ice skates, rollerblades, hockey outfits, plates, bowls. Make sure dishes are sold as a complete set.

Items that can be sold for 25-50% of the original cost:

  • Baby items such as bassinets, playpens, video monitors. You have to take into consideration how old the item is. If you bought it used or were given it years ago, it will be closer to the 25% range. If you bought it new and it still looks brand new, you should be able to get closer to 50%.
  • Large furniture such as couches, TV stands, armoires, bookshelves but you MUST be willing to deliver.
  • Small furniture that is in perfect shape, you don’t need to promise delivery on smaller furniture.
  • Gaming systems generally get 25% of the purchase price. Unless it is the current system out, then you could easily get 50% of the original price.
  • Small appliances that work perfectly and have all of the pieces

If you have Tupperware that is still in perfect condition, it should sell for 50% of the original price. Do some homework and see what those items are currently selling for to make sure that the price hasn’t gone down considerably.

Generally, most items that are in good condition are going to sell anywhere from $1 to $100. People will likely try to bargain with you to get a better deal no matter what price you put on an item. So know what you are willing to accept beforehand.

Any items that didn’t sell at the garage sale should not go back into your home. Put them into boxes and take them right to the donation center. You already decided that you didn’t want or need the items, so don’t clutter up your house with them again.

how to organize items for a garage sale

Other decluttering and organizing posts:

Items to Declutter from Your Home

Declutter & Organize Your Clothing

Organizing Your Child’s Bedroom

In Summary:

Garage sales are a great way to earn some extra money, just make sure that you pick items that people frequent garage sales for.

Don’t overprice the items and make them really easy to locate. This will make your garage sale a huge success and clean out your house! Remember, anything that didn’t sell should go right to a donation center.

I hope this post has helped you get ready for your next garage sale and get everything organized. Have fun and I hope your garage sale is a huge success!