Garage sale tips

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Nothing says “straight to the pool room” like a garage sale. They’re as Australian as Vegemite used to be before it was American, and here in planet suburbia, garage sales are The Thing to do on a Saturday.

At the DTEM homestead, we’re on a mission to reduce our household’s stuff. But that doesn’t mean putting it in the bin; ideally we’d like to find a home for each and every item we don’t use. Bring on the garage sale.

So last week, we threw open our roller-door and dragged our least wanted and most embarrassing junk onto the driveway. Was it worth getting up BEFORE the kids? Well, we made more than $500, emptied the garage and had a great day with our neighbours so it’s a yes all round.

Here’s a bit of a Garage Sale How To for the uninitiated:

  1. Set a date
  2. Spend a number of weeks slowly sorting out cupboards and collecting unwanted items
  3. Put an ad in your local paper
  4. Paint six “garage sale” signs on stiff cardboard
  5. Get up at sparrow’s fart and covertly attach your signs to lamp posts (this may not be entirely legal)
  6. Make a pot of coffee and get ready to sell.

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To the Extreme: Garage Sale Tips

My dear husband does not like to do things by halves, so a lot more planning went into our garage sale than is implied above. In fact, we turned it into a street garage sale and it was a huge success. More on that in a minute. First, let me share with you some Extreme Garage Sale Tips to help you maximise your profits (now doesn’t that sound wanky? Actually what I mean is “to help you gain maximum floor and cupboard space”).

  • Designate a sizeable area to collect the things you’ll sell, pack it all neatly into boxes.
  • Give a brief description of what’s available in your ad: furniture etc.
  • Don’t advertise the number of your house, just the street name as people will knock on your door in the days leading up to your garage sale asking to browse your boxes. Seriously.
  • Put out everything. Yes everything. Broken, missing pieces, totally random, redundant, ugly and pointless. You will be amazed what people buy. One family’s trash is just what another family needs to complete their Pokemon collection.
  • Beg, borrow, steal some tables to display your items. We also had a clothes rack because that’s how we roll.
  • Range your items well! Put all the kids’ stuff together, the crockery, the electronics. Make it easy for people to find what they want.
  • Sell it cheap. People buy stuff at garage sales because it’s a bargain. I sold my guitar for $35. It broke my heart; it made the purchaser’s day. If you have anything that you want real money for, sell it on Gumtree or eBay.
  • A tip from my neighbour: if you have plants that you can strike, several weeks before your sale, pot them up and sell them at your garage sale.
  • At the end of the day, phone a local op shop to come and pick up what’s left over.

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Make it a street party

This year, we invited our neighbours to join in and host their own garage sales on the same day as ours. The benefits of this are that you can advertise a “Whole Street Sale”, which really draws the punters in, and you can do a bit of shopping and bartering during quiet times. I scored a new pair of jeans and black pants in exchange for some DVDs.

To make it a street party, pop a note into the letterboxes on your street telling them the date and that you will take care of the advertising. We had four houses put on a sale, which was fewer than I’d hoped, but after the success of it, I’m sure we’ll get more on board next time. We also invited our friends to put a table on the front lawn and sell their junk too, so we had a mini market happening and easily 200 cars pull up throughout the day.GS downtoearthmother 3

Yes it was a great way to sell more, but the best thing about our street garage sale was that it brought our neighbours out of their homes and into the street. My son and the boys across the road spent the whole day flitting between my house and theirs, and another neighbour told me afterwards it was the happiest she’s felt in ages – whether that was because she was clearing stuff out of her home, making a bit of extra cash or from being outside all day, I don’t know. Whatever the cause, it reminded me that, at the end of the day, if the shit really hits the fan, all we would have to rely on is our community.

So what do you reckon? Garage sale this Saturday? Do you have any other tips? We’d love to know! After the success of last week we’ll be hosting another garage sale soon. This is the pile of boxes we had left over at the end of the day!



  1. Bob H says

    “Whatever the cause, it reminded me that, at the end of the day, if the shit really hits the fan, all we would have to rely on is our community.”

    How true! When emergencies or natural disasters happen, the people around you can make it either “survival” or an experience to look back on with pride.

    knowing the neighbours are there, or who may need checking on is truly the basis of neighbourly care and support!

    • (dt)em says

      AS you’d know, Bob, you never really know the strength of your community until it’s tested. Well, without sounding like a complete whackjob, I do believe that we are coming up to more trying times (unaffordable petrol & food shortages, for example) and that the only way to cruise through it is to think locally and build stronger communities.


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