05 May
How to Have Garage Sale Success Without Losing Your Mind

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I just did some Spring cleaning and cleared out a lot of our closets. Now we have tons of crap we don’t want and I’d like to just donate it to Goodwill. However, my husband thinks we should have a garage sale. I think that’s too much work, even though I know we’ll make some money. Any ideas for making it go easier?


Garage Girl?


Dear Garage Girl,

First of all, congratulations on the crap clean-out! That’s a huge accomplishment and I plan on doing the same thing in my house just as soon as the producers from Hoarders show up at my front door with HazMat suits and a court order. (What? I’m totally going to use all of these empty margarine tubs and ferret carcasses some day. I swear I am.)

But seriously, like everyone else in the suburbs, I’ve had my share of garage sales over the years. (And on a serious note, please remember: if it’s in a yard, it’s a “yard sale,” if it’s in the garage, it’s a “garage sale” and if it’s just shit thrown all over the street, it’s a “my f*&#ing husband cheated on me with his yoga instructor, so here are all of his $1,000 suits for free” sale. Plan your signage accordingly.)

Now, let’s get back to you selling off your treasured possessions to losers for pennies! So fun! Here are a few Mouthy Housewife tips to start you off:

1. Organize your items by type, so you have different “departments.” My departments usually include “Mismatched Socks,” “Broken Toys,” “Items I Destroyed While Cooking”   and “Lube.”

2. Place price tags on each item the night beforehand. Then you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the hours of delightful negotiation with senior citizens over a $.75 half-empty bottle of Clamato the day of the sale. It’s just like The Price is Right, but a million times worse!

3. Be sure you have a safe place to keep your money, and fill it up with change so you’ll be ready for all of your cash transactions. (Hint: To really screw with your customers, use either Canadian or Monopoly money. They’ll never know.)

4. Remember, Craig’s List isn’t just for low-rent hookers and murderers, so use it to advertise your sale. And then maybe a low-rent hooker and murderer will see your ad and swing by your house to pick up some used lingerie. Hello, new friends!

5. One of the biggest problems with garage sales is the dreaded “Early Bird.” These are the freaks who show up at 7am, hoping to get the best deals. But if you want them to go away until the sale starts, simply do what I do: Turn on the sprinklers and blast “Hey, Soul Sister.”

6. And my most important tip for a successful garage sale, have fun. And by “have fun,” I of course mean “drink like a fish who’s just seen a pack of weirdos rifle through her old workout clothes and sports bras.” L’Chaim!

So, good luck, my friend. I hope your day goes well and I hope you spend all of your profits wisely. Maybe even at Goodwill, where I just dropped off a box of lube. (Hurry!)


Wendi, TMH






19 Responses to “How to Have Garage Sale Success Without Losing Your Mind”


Comment by Bammtastic.

#6 is the MOST important. Seriously. You’ll never survive without getting crunked.


Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

Goodwill donation may not make money for you, but at least it will save your sanity and your marriage. Plus, it’s tax deductible.

And if your husband wants to have the YARD sale, then, let him have it! I don’t see where you come into play here. You’ve already done your part by doing the sorting and purging.


Comment by From Belgium.

Why not sell it on Ebay?


Comment by Albug.

I love to go to garage sales. It amazes me the crap people try to sell. I hate to have garage sales though, because no one ever wants to pay what my treasures are worth.


Comment by Plano Mom.

How much stuff do you have? Because the only way to talk to your husband is on a return on investment basis. In this economy, you will get only about 10-15% of the retail price of your stuff. What’s at least 8 hours of your (his) time worth? Start talking about his tasks and when he’d have to do them, and when he’ll be the person manning the sale, how many days, etc. But make sure you keep coming back to “We have about $X worth of stuff, so is this still worth it?” He’ll come around, or you’ll get the help you need for your huge yard sale. Good Luck!


Comment by N and Em's mom.

I smell Chicken Little in action. I do all the work, and we make money- at least that’s the way the pronouns tell the story. If you wait for your husband to organize the sale, you could be tripping over the stuff for years (I’m projecting). Make a list of all the stuff, go on their website to estimate the value to take it off on your taxes, then sleep in Saturday morning, make mimosas for breakfast, and everyone should be happy.

N and Em's mom Reply:

Oops! I meant ‘the little red hen.’


Comment by Bejewell.

Every time we have a garage sale, I pick one piece of crap item and wrap it in pretty gift wrap, then call it the “Mystery Gift” and charge an arm and a leg for it. And every time, some idiot buys it. And also every time, that idiot wants their money back after they open it and realize it’s just a piece of crap.

So I tell them the money is mine now and what they paid for was the “Mystery.” And then I laugh and laugh.

It’s little games like this that make a garage sale interesting.


Comment by Minka.

Wow, that was fantastic! I only had one garage sale, because they scare the crap out of me and I am also lazy as shit. But you really laid it out well, and I think I need to print this post out for future use, as we are collectors of crap and always default to Goodwill. Though one suggestion I would add: in addition to “Hey, Soul Sister” I would consider broadcasting for the bazillionth time: “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt, and also hanging a sign that says, “If you’re reading this sign before 8 a.m., f*ck off until 8 a.m.”

Thanks for a truly helpful post!


Comment by LR.

If you can’t get him to agree to Goodwill…

1) Definitely sort by categories… trust me, an organized garage/yard/cheating husband sale will get people to look. Piles of crap will get people to point and laugh at your mess as they walk away.

2) Price with colored dots, then make a color key poster. Red is $1, Blue is .50, and anything unmarked is a quarter. Think of all that crap you don’t have to mark that way! Just beware of people pulling off tags to get things for a quarter. Or not… you were going to give the stuff to Goodwill anyway. So why worry about it?

3) Make a free box (or boxes) for the stuff you don’t see anyone buying but you just want to get rid of. People love free shit. Someone will usually come along and take the entire pile. Kids will be happily occupied as their parents shop, keeping them away from the good stuff their parents would otherwise not watch them breaking. Who cares if they break free shit?

4) People don’t really want your old clothes. You may have paid $200 for that dress. It’s worth $1 or less. Regardless of what you paid, it’s still worth $1 or less. A few people might pay more for clothes, but would you rather sell one item for $5 or 20 items for $1 each? Go for the volume… remember, you wanted to just give your shit to Goodwill.

5) And most importantly:

Never take a vacation day to have or prepare for a sale. Take the vacation day the first day after it’s all over and cleaned up from. Trust me, you’ll need it. If your husband really wants the sale that badly, HE can take a vacation day to prepare.


Comment by Kristin.

I’m one of the freaks that actually likes Yard/Garage/Tag sales. I like going and I like having them. The people are fun to meet for a variety of reasons. However, two things to resign yourself to: 1) Something will be stolen. 2) You will not make nearly as much money as you hope.

Don’t put anything precious out. Not the cheap earrings that you’ve had since high school and will only sell if I get $50. And not the leather jacket that an old boyfriend lent you 12 years ago.

And the money issue is solved by donating all proceeds to a local charity. A sign about the charity out in front will make cheapskates and thieves feel a little guilty about their behavior. Or at least it can make you feel high and mighty about having a sale in the first place. That’s worth something.


Comment by Diane at QuirkOut.com.

Ohhhh, hate when people sell their old underware at garage sales. TooMuchInformation, thank you. And after all, old panties are meant for “that time of the month”, not for resale.


Comment by Danielle.

Give it to Goodwill. Make sure you get a receipt. Claim that baby on your taxes. There, you get money (tax credit) and don’t have the hassle of selling that crap on your lawn. Win Win!

[WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.


Comment by Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him.

I’ve been driving all over New England looking for good, cheap, gently used LUBE. URGHH. I gotta steer this car south now.

Ha, that was the best.

I have no good advice as I’ve never done one and I just siphon off all of my husband’s shit to Good Will without his knowledge.


Comment by Becky.

Damn! I could have used these tips earlier. We have a community yard sale Saturday, where we will be trying to sell my mother-in-law’s estate. If you define estate as creepy collectible dolls, 8,672 skeins of yarn, duplicate copies of every book the Library of Congress has (give or take), and enough Christmas decorations for every household in America. I wish I had more tequila, in order to get “crunked” as Bammtastic has suggested.


Comment by Lisa.

Why are you the one writing in? Isn’t this your husband’s idea? I’m sure he’ll get it all figured out and you can just leave it to him.

If you have any doubts about that, give a date when you’re taking the stuff to Goodwill if there hasn’t been a yard sale.


Comment by JK.

Great post, Wendi! I think there are actually people who enjoy yard sales, but I’ve never gotten it, esp after my daughter brought home a bag of clothes that infested her house with fleas! Yuk.


Comment by vodka tonic.

I also suggest the Goodwill route, and round the value of everything up.

I did have a moving sale once. Twice, technically. The first one I had to cancel, as the night before, we emptied the liquor cabinet, and I was too hung over to deal with it the next morning. So we had another one. It was easier than Goodwill, as I had a lot of furniture and appliances and big shit I wanted to get rid of, and not have to haul myself to the donation center.

I had great success with fucking with people’s minds over prices. I didn’t have the time or energy to price everything, so when the person would bring me the item to ask about it, I would quizzically ask them, “Well, what do YOU think it’s worth?” Their price was usually at or above what I would’ve paid for it second-hand, and ended up cashing in with about $2k at the end of the day. Which means I gave away about $15k worth of nice stuff, but I couldn’t take it with me…


Comment by Essie.

Argh, I had a garage- and- yard sale once. People here are cheap. And they want cheap stuff. And they want the cheap stuff for really cheap. Nice stuff= not interested.
Love the list!

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