That Time My Daughter Talked Me Into Having a Garage Sale (Even though I knew better!!!)

That Time My Daughter Talked Me Into Having a Garage Sale (even though I totally knew better) at

It’s October December, and I’ve been meaning to write about the garage sale my 9yo daughter suckered me into having in August.

I’m sure I could turn it into a big long story, but in the interest of already not-so-perfect-anymore timing, I’ll just share.

She wanted to have a garage sale.

She thinks they’re fun.

I tried to change the subject.

Over and over and over again.

She kept asking.

It’s possible (or it’s for sure) that Mama hadn’t done a great job actually donating her Donate Boxes in a while, so there was enough to have a good sale.

Because her desire to have a garage sale made her want to declutter her own room, I gave in. I told her it was her garage sale, and she had to do the work. She could have all the money, but I wasn’t doing it for her.

Garage Sale Daughter at

Are you done laughing yet?


She really did do a good job, though of course, I did way more than nothing. It was a great learning experience in the end. We missed the newspaper deadline, and (as I TEACH in the series I’ve written about having a garage sale), we shouldn’t have. That’s the most important advertising venue in our small town. She wanted to have it that weekend anyway, and it was awful. We ended up doing it again the next week. Overall, she was pleased with the money she made, though I would have been severely depressed if it was me doing all that work for money alone (as opposed to life lessons for my daughter).

Garage Sale Boys at

But the biggest positive of having the sale (and what tends to be a big positive for having a garage sale) was that it forced us into finally getting rid of the bunk beds my boys had long ago outgrown.
That’s them. Holding clothes we found that had fallen behind the drawers. They had that bed a while. 

It’s funny, it’s cute. But it makes my Mama Heart want to throw a pity party.

The boys made a little money, their room is much emptier (and therefore slightly easier to keep non-disastrous), and someone hauled those beds off to be used again (after they repair the broken slats on the bottom bunk).

But don’t worry. My boys might not be toddlers anymore, but they’re not completely grown up:

Not completely grown up yet! At



That Time My Daughter Talked Me Into Having a Garage Sale (even though I totally knew better) pin at

Garage Sale Advice

The Former Garage Sale Queen had another garage sale a few weeks ago.  Even though I’ve decluttered and donated and flat-out-trashed huge amounts of stuff in the past three years, I still managed to scrape together enough clutter to justify spending ten dollars for a newspaper ad.

And to be willing to greet strangers in my driveway before 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Was it successful?

Yes . . . because my goal was to get rid of stuff.  I made enough money to justify the time I spent, but not enough to inspire any dances of joy.

And, even though I consider myself a total expert on the subject of how to have a garage sale, I still learned a few more lessons.

Lesson #1:

Buy or borrow one of those markers that identifies counterfeit bills.

No, I didn’t receive any counterfeit bills.  BUT, the biggest shopper at my sale spent twenty-seven dollars, paid with a $100 bill, and hauled off a lot of stuff AND seventy-three dollars of my real money.

My ever-so-amazing ability to imagine worst-case-scenarios was at its best for the rest of the day as I stressed about whether or not that $100 bill was real. And whether or not I had just paid someone a  lot of money to take my stuff home with her.

Thankfully, it was real.  But I didn’t know that until Hubby took it to work with him and checked it with one of their special pens.

I think for my next sale I’d prefer to get a pen ahead of time, so I can sleep better after the sale is over.

Lesson #2:

I already knew Craigslist is a no-brainer for advertising garage sales . . . since it’s free.  However, I didn’t think it was a necessity because it’s not the primary way people find garage sales in my area.

BUT . . . the Monday after the sale someone emailed me to ask if one of my large items had sold.  It hadn’t (and I had whined and complained about that several times to my husband) and she arranged to come pick it up within a few days!  The beauty of Craigslist is that it’s free AND you can be much more specific about items than you can in a twenty-five-word newspaper ad.

Are you planning a garage sale soon?

I’ve given tons of advice for having a successful sale.  Just click on the pink links to get to the corresponding posts.

How to have the right expectations for your garage sale.

How to price your items for a garage sale.

How to effectively advertise your garage sale.

How to set up your garage sale.


I made some webisodes with garage sale advice, but I’ve been too crazy-busy to get them edited and uploaded to my YouTube channel.  Hopefully, they’ll be coming soon!


Oh, you’re wondering about the Amazon link to the marker?  It’s most definitely my affiliate link!

Garage Sale Tips Part 4 – How to Set Up Your Sale

More Garage Sale Tips from the Girl who Knows Too Much


So it’s time to have your garage sale. You are in the right frame of mind, you’ve decided on your pricing basics, and you’ve planned ahead enough to get people there.

Now let’s talk about set-up. Here are a few questions to consider:

Should I do it alone, or with a friend?

Do you have neighbors who would like to have one? A neighborhood garage sale is a great idea, even if it’s just three or four of you deciding to do it on the same day and going in on an ad together. People love to park once and hit several sales, and will likely be sure that they make it to your sales that day.

If you’re having it with a friend who isn’t a neighbor, choose to do it at the house that’s easiest to get to. Like I said before, it’s okay to have a sale at a house out in the country if you live in a place where people use the newspaper or Craigslist garage sale listings as their primary way of finding garage sales. I’ve been to many crazy-busy sales well outside the city limits that had enticing newspaper ads and good directions. But if you have a choice, make it the easiest location. Where we used to live, I had sales with a friend each year, and we generally did them at my house, which was fairly easy to find. But one year, she needed to sell a couch, so we did it at her place. There were four turns to make inside her neighborhood to get to her house, and our traffic really suffered.

Do I have to put a price on EVERY SINGLE THING?

Basically, yes. When things are not clearly priced, many people are afraid to ask. They’ll assume your prices are high. It also makes things more enticing to see the price, if the price is low. That brown frame may not be cute enough to warrant getting your attention and asking about the price, but if they know it’s only 50 cents, it’s automatically cuter, and they’re more likely to pick it up. It also gets crazy in the middle of your sale. You may think that you’ll be able to watch to see if people seem interested in certain items, but when a big wave of traffic hits, your observations of nuances will fly out the garage door!

Now, the way to make this easier is to price categories of items, like I talked about in my pricing post. This works best on very specific categories, such as clothes, shoes, stuffed animals, videos, books, etc. Random items like knick-knacks and toys need to be individually marked, because having a table that says “Everything on this table – 1.00” will get confusing as people pick up things and then set them down somewhere else. It can also be overwhelming if you happen to be inside for a moment (or on a doughnut run) for the person left in charge, who doesn’t have any idea which table something came from. I generally make bright signs and attach them to the box of shoes saying “All shoes – 50 cents.” For clothes, since I have several tables and hanging areas of them, I put a sign on any designated clothing area, and hang signs up randomly that say “All clothing – 50 cents.”

Do I have to hang up all of my clothing?

I CAN’T hang up all of our clothing, there’s just too much. I used to have a fabulous hanging rack, but it was too huge to store, so I recently got rid of it. I’ll miss it when I have this coming sale, but with my new why-in-the-world-do-I-need-that-humongous-thing-that-I-only-use-once-a-year mindset, I’m glad it’s gone. You can use a mop handle placed between bookshelves or ladders to make your own hanging rack. I’ll probably hang some things on the fence that is next to our driveway, but most of my clothing will be folded this time. Folding clothing and stacking it on a table is the next best thing to hanging, but be aware that any neat piles will be destroyed in the first five minutes of your sale. If you have enough tables to spread out, separating boys from girls or kids from adult clothing is helpful.

Some people are willing to dig through bags and boxes of clothing, but you will definitely do better if you are willing to put them out and make it easier for people to see what you have.

How much change do I need to have?

This is my personal opinion, but I don’t think it’s necessary to have huge amounts of change before the sale starts. Most people are going to have small bills, and once you get going, you’ll be able to make change from your profit. But it’s always possible that your first customer will want to pay for a 50 cent item with a 20 dollar bill. I try to have about 30-40 dollars worth. 20 ones, a few dollars in quarters, and some fives.

How do I handle the money?

I have found that it works best to have a belt-purse or pocketed apron. If you try to have a formal table, it can get very backed up, and I’ve been known to rethink quite a few items if I have to stand in line for long. If you are doing the sale with a friend, keep a notebook with you and when someone buys something, just make a running list rather than columns. When things get crazy, it makes it easier to keep up. For example, if someone buys 14 items of my clothing and a 2.00 item of my friend’s, I would write down 7.00 – N (for Nony), 2.00 – H (for Heather). Make sense? Then you can go back and add things up when you’re done.

How do I arrange things?

The more you have out, instead of in boxes, the better. If your sale will be visible from the street (this house has a rear garage), put your eye-catchers out where people can see them. Furniture, climbing toys, etc. are things that will make people stop and look at your sale.

Be aware that kids are going to play with any toys that you have. I did a sale with a single friend once who was irritated that kids played with the few toys she was selling. Really, though, if my kids can be occupied with a toy for a few minutes, I’m able to browse and am much more likely to buy something. For this reason, put your toys far away from the street, for the kids’ safety, and so the mom will be able to look around more easily.


Most of all, remember that this is a garage sale. While clothes and items need to be clean and put out where they can be seen easily, it isn’t a boutique. You don’t have to have fancy displays or matching hangers. While people don’t want to dig through your kids unsorted toy box looking for puzzle pieces, they also know that they’re not at Toys R Us. Be as prepared as you can be, but if the day comes and you have one more box of junk, it’s okay to just stick it out there. As long as it isn’t going to come back into your home, you can have the philosophy that if someone wants it, they’ll buy it, and if not, it gets donated . . . THAT afternoon!

I’m linking this up to Works for Me Wednesday at

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