How to have a moving sale

Planning a moving sale

Everyone needs to declutter and get rid of things from time to time, but it’s even more important before a move. And since you already have to go through every single thing in the house (while you’re packing), what better time to sort the trash from the treasures and have a garage sale! It’s a great way to get rid of stuff and make a little extra cash while you’re at it.

For some, hosting a sale might seem like one more thing to add to your never-ending moving checklist, but for many, it’s worth the work. Learn how to organize for a moving sale, and get tips on how to make it a success!

Furniture set out for a moving sale.


How to have a moving sale: A step-by-step guide

Thinking through the timeline for your sale ahead of time can make it go smoother. Here are some things to consider:

What to do before the sale

Select a date

Everybody loves a weekend garage sale! Good practice (especially if you have a lot of stuff) is to spread it out over Friday, Saturday and Sunday — or Friday and Saturday at the least. If you still have a lot left on the final day, it’s time to go for the deep discounts. And don’t forget to check the weather. Sunshiny days are the best for moving sales!

Start the process

Begin sorting and pricing at least 3-6 weeks before the big day (more on pricing strategy later). It’s a great time to start saving things like plastic and paper grocery sacks and newspapers — they’re good for wrapping and packaging things that sell. You can also start gathering things like tables and hanging racks to display items. A cheap and easy solution is to place rods between two ladders for a makeshift clothes rack. Don’t forget chairs and a lockbox or money bag for your cash.

Get the proper permits

Most cities require a permit to have a garage sale. But don’t fret, they aren’t hard to get. You may have to go down to the city offices, or it may be possible to apply online. Get the details from your local city clerk.

Advertise the sale at least a week beforehand

Call the newspaper to place an ad, list it online, and put advertisement signs around the neighborhood. If you have a neighborhood marketplace app on your phone, advertise the sale there as well. It’s also a good time to let the neighbors know about the event to prepare them for the extra traffic in the area.

Get change from the bank

It’s smart to start with about $100 in change (because you’ll for sure have to make change). Get at least two $10s, six $5s, 40 $1s, and a roll of quarters.

What to do on the day of the sale

Set up early and be ready when the sale begins

Inevitably there will be early arrivers ready to shop before you open. If you want to deter that, set up a sign alerting of no early sales. Or let the early shoppers come in — it’s less to put out to sell!

Organize the sale

If you’ve ever shopped in a store that’s cluttered and disorganized, you know it’s difficult to find things, and you’re often less likely to buy. A moving sale is no different. Get organized by grouping things into easy-to-shop categories. Put CDs, video games, DVDs, and vinyl records together on the same table. Put kitchen appliances next to dishes, and put home décor all in one place. It’s also a good idea to put children’s items away from breakable things. Place big or attractive pieces at the end of the driveway or on the curb by the street to entice passersby.

Keep track of sales

Manage inventory and totals with a good old pen and notebook, or make is easier with a computer, tablet or mobile phone.

What to do after the sale

Gather unsold items

Most local charities and shelters will accept what doesn’t sell. Call ahead and see what their pick-up and drop-off hours are, and set up a time take them to their location, or arrange for them to pick the items up.

Take down any signage

Even if your signs and posts online had dates and times, take them down once the sale is over to avoid anyone stopping by after the fact.

Garage sale pricing guidelines

Now for the hard part — pricing items to sell. We get it, you know what you paid for this stuff, and much of it has sentimental value, it can be hard to let it go for a bargain. But, if you want it to sell, you may need to set emotions aside so that you can price reasonably. Name-brand, lightly-used or relatively new things can normally be priced higher. Want to move items in bulk? Offer bundle pricing!

Here’s a guideline on how much others typically charge:

  • Baby clothing: $1-3 for gently used items, a quarter to 50 cents for well-worn ones. Or sell for $5 per bag.
  • Kids clothing: $3-5 for gently used items. $1-3 for well-worn ones. Sell bundles of 5 pieces for $10.
  • Adult clothing: $3-5 for gently used items. $5-10 for nicer work clothing. $20 per bag.
  • Shoes: $3-7 per pair depending on size and condition.
  • Coats: $5-15 depending on condition and warmth.
  • Books: $1 each, or bundle them eight for $5 if you have a lot to move.
  • Jewelry: $1-3 each for costume jewelry, more for nicer pieces.
  • DVDs: $2-5 each, bundle them three for $5 if you have an abundance.
  • CDs and records: $1-3 each, bundle five for $3.
  • Electronics: No more than one-third of the retail value (make sure they are in good, working condition).
  • Décor, toys, games: $1-10 depending on the size and condition.
  • Furniture: $10-30 for well-worn or lower quality pieces, or no more than one-third of the original price.

Consider pricing in 25-cent increments to make giving change easier. And have a “free” box for things that may not sell but you want gone. Remember that it’s common to negotiate for prices. People shop sales for good deals, so be flexible. Would you rather have $3 in your pocket (instead of the $5 you were asking) or your unsold, unwanted item? Think of it in those terms.

Avoid common scams and mistakes at your moving sale

Don’t leave money unattended

This may seem obvious, but keep the money box in sight at all times. If you’re the only one with access to the cash, keep it in a fanny pack or apron instead of a lock box. If you have a lock box, keep it beneath the table, and be sure you or someone you know and trust guards it throughout your sale. If you need to walk away, take the money with you. If you get anything larger than $20, or you start to have too much cash on your person, take it inside and put it away.

Keep valuables near the cash drawer

If you’re selling things like jewelry, electronics, video game consoles, stereo systems or any other high-priced items, keep them on the table next to the cash drawer, or at a nearby table where you can keep a close eye on them.

Use a counterfeit pen

The chances of someone using counterfeit currency are slim, but it’s good to have a counterfeit detection pen on hand, just in case. Use it for anything over $20.

Lock your home

If you’re not having an estate sale that requires the entire space of your home, it’s best to lock your doors and windows. And if you’re not offering your restrooms for public use, don’t let anyone inside.

Double check all purchases

When checking out a customer, be sure to double check the items they’re purchasing to ensure there aren’t other things inside or stuck to the bottom.

What are your garage sale tips?

Where are our garage sale pros? If you’ve hosted a moving sale before and want to share advice, we’d love to hear it! If you have questions, please let us know. We’re here to help!