Clearing Items at the End of Your Garage Sale

You’re holding a garage sale to get rid of clutter and make a lot of money, but what happens when it’s the final few hours of the sale and there’s still quite a few items left for sale? Instead of panicking, keep these following strategies in mind to get rid of all your unwanted items like a pro.

During the Sale

Up the Hospitality

Providing free cookies and lemonade gives your kids a job, brings customers closer to the stuff you’re trying to sell, and encourages conversation. Refreshing your shoppers gives them good reason to stroll around a bit longer—and buy a bunch more!

Be Open to Bundles

If you have similarly themed items, sell them together. Someone may not want to buy a set of weights for $50, but they might change their mind if you throw in workout DVDs or a yoga mat. Or if you notice a customer holding multiple, unrelated items for a while, offer a discount if they buy it all.

Don’t Be Afraid to Bargain or Negotiate

Garage sales are a great way to test out our bargaining skills. And while you may have lots of bargaining experience as a buyer, selling isn’t something we get to try as often. Be kind, but firm, when an offered price dips below what you’re willing to take. Consider your options for selling the item elsewhere and proceed accordingly.

After the Sale

Now that the sale is over, it’s time to consider what you’re going to do with the items that didn’t sell. Surely, you don’t want them in your home anymore, but you don’t know what to do with them. Here are just a few ways that you can get rid of your items and either make more money  or donate to a worthy cause.

  • Take your garage sale online. Left with some stuff you think you can still sell? Post your items on online portals and or your local buy-sell-trade group on Facebook.
  • Visit your local consignment shop for cash. Take clothes, shoes and accessories to a consignment shop. If you can, choose to receive cash up front instead of a trade or after-purchase repayment.
  • Donate your items to a worthy cause. Of course, you can always drop your items at a thrift store like Goodwill or contact Habitat for Humanity to schedule a pick-up time.
  • Give your hard-earned cash a home. Count up your earnings and do a little celebration dance. Then sit down with your spouse to talk about how you’ll use the money. Be sure to include the cash as income in your monthly budget, and then put that cash to work!


A good yard sale gives you a jolt of money momentum. You can earn enough to pay for a quick summer vacation or polish off your starter emergency fund in a single morning. In the end, your house will be cleaner, and your wallet will be greener. This opportunity is closer than you think—in fact, it happens right outside your front door!

Were any items left unsold at your Estate Sale?

During the estate sale, the company you hired will do everything in their power to completely sell all your contents. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll be successful. Even if they drop prices, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to sell absolutely everything. Here are your options for the pieces that don’t sell.

Estate Sale Company Buyout

Before you hire an estate liquidation company, make sure you’ve discussed what they will and will not do. Some companies buy the remainder of the estate at a low prices. If you decide that this is the best option for you, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You will not receive anything close to the price you had on the items during the estate sale
  • Prepare yourself to sell those items for low prices
  • Most companies will turn around and sell the leftovers at an auction, charity, flea market, or dump

This doesn’t mean that the leftovers don’t have value. Your prices could have simply been too high or the factors of the day might have been against you. But if any of the points above bother you, an estate company buy out is not the route for you.

However, these are all moot points if the estate sale company doesn’t offer a buyout in the first place. After the estate sale, you might be left watching the liquidation company pack up their own materials and driving away. If the company you hired to manage your estate does not buy the remaining materials from you, you are left with the responsibility of cleaning out the property. Here are a few options for cleaning out what’s left after the estate sale.

Resale Shops

If you still want to try and sell your items off, there are a few resources left to you. Some things to keep in mind are:

  • Many antique and collectible dealers (especially the ones that have storefronts) might be willing to buy some of your antiques or collectibles.
  • There’s always Craigslist. Post an ad on online marketplaces with pictures of the leftover items. You could sell them individually or as “all or nothing.”
  • Check the yellow pages for auction services. Some businesses auction off household items like lamps, rugs, art, furniture, and mirrors. They will usually take a percentage off what it goes for at auction and send you a check for the remainder.

Charity Donations

Most charities are willing to come pick up estate sale leftovers. However:

  • Most come with the stipulations that it’s “all or nothing.” Before the charity arrives, make sure there is no junk or trash remaining on the property.
  • Individuals who choose this option end up renting a dumpster, which is an added cost to consider.
  • After disposing of the waste, create a spreadsheet list of everything left in the estate. This becomes your list of donated items, which can be deducted from your estate tax return.

Throwing Leftovers Away

Many estate sales companies will have a list of recommended junk removal services for you to consider. While this option may cost you additional money, consider the following points:

  • It saves you time and energy in the long run.
  • This “all in one alternative” is perfect for people who need properties emptied quickly and efficiently.


Now, if you have to hold an estate sale, it may be difficult to part with some items, but rest assured that liquidating your estate or your loved one’s estate is the best option.

Estate Sale Timeline

If you need to hold an estate sale, chances are that you’ve thought about the timeline of how an estate sale even works. While every company will have their own way of doing things, there’s a general timeline that companies tend to follow.

Sign the Contract

Once you’ve chosen your company: get a contract. Don’t hold an estate sale without one. Commissions and fees will be set in stone, as will the expectations of both client and company. If there are any exceptions to what will be sold, they need to be made clear in the contract.

The length of the contract depends on the company you hire. But it’s liable to be a several pages long—there are a lot of moving parts, after all. Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, get clarification. If you don’t agree with an item in the contract, say something. If you’re ultimately not comfortable with the contract, don’t sign it, and move on. But when you do sign one, make sure to retain a copy for yourself.

Item Photography

Often the first thing that an estate sale company will do once a contract is signed is take photographs—often even the very same day. This creates an inventory of the property, so the company can know what will be in the sale (and if anything is removed from the sale ahead of time). This is also helpful to the client, to have photographic evidence of what was included in the sale.

Property Staging

The company will need time before the sale to stage the property. How long this will take depends on the condition of the house and the amount of merchandise. The home of a hoarder, for example, will take considerably longer to sift, sort, clean, and stage than the average home.

The Sale

It’s unlikely that you’ll be encouraged to attend the sale. In fact, you may be asked to stay off the property entirely during the sale. If you’re the client, it’s unlikely that you’ll be encouraged to attend the sale. Having the client on-site can negatively affect shoppers, and make it difficult for the estate sale company to do its job. It’s important for you to trust the company you hire, and feel comfortable letting the professionals do their job. Ask questions freely beforehand. Feel free to check in at the end of day as well.

Getting Your Payout

Every company has a different timeline when it comes to paying their client following the sale. How much information about the sale you receive also depends on the company—if you want or need in-depth reporting about the items sold and their cost, talk to the company before the contract is signed, to make sure they can deliver the information to you in the way you need it.


Remember, this timeline is a general overview of the typical steps estate companies take to hold their sales and help you sell all the items that you need to.

Conducting a Background Check on an Estate Sale Company

If you need to hold an estate sale, you’ve probably looked into hiring a professional company to conduct the sale for you. While this is definitely a good way to go, because, after all, they are the professionals, it can be a scary step to take. Most estate sale companies, just like most people, are reputable and honest.  A few are not.  Sometimes we need a little help in decided which is which.

Here are some helpful tips that you can use to evaluate the reputation of an estate sale company:

  • Interview a prospective company in person.  They will want to see the property to be sold anyway, so set an appointment to get to know them.  Have your questions at hand so you won’t forget important issues.
  • Make sure they are a legitimate company: do they have a license, insurance, experience?
  • Can they provide references?
  • Do they charge a reasonable percentage for your neighborhood/city/state?  Estate sale companies usually make their money by charging a percentage of all that they sell.  That percentage differs from job to job, from company to company, from location to location.  Some companies, perhaps those in areas with a low cost of living, can charge as little as 20%.  Other companies, many in high population density areas and high cost of living zones, can charge as much as 50%.  The degree of difficulty of a job can also influence the percentage charged.  Picking the company that charges the lowest percentage might work fine or it might be a catastrophe waiting to happen.  Often, you get what you pay for.
  • Do they charge sales tax? Perhaps not all states require sales taxes to be collected, but many do.  Find out how the prospective company handles this.
  • Do they have a contract for you to read and sign?  If yes, read it over careful.  Have someone else read it, too.  Can they explain what it all means in a way you can easily understand?  Don’t sign the contract until you are comfortable with all the clauses.  If they don’t have a contract, I might be concerned.
  • Trust your instincts when you meet them. If you don’t trust them, don’t hire them. There is bound to be another company to hire instead that you might feel better about.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints filed against them or their owners (keep in mind that not all legitimate companies are members of BBB).
  • Most professionals would not risk their reputation by doing shady deals because it could obviously affect their futures in the industry. Do they suggest ideas that sound risky or unorthodox to you that another company would refuse to do?
  • If you are really a careful person, you can try running a background check on the company owner.  This might at least show whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, though it doesn’t prove that they are honest and honorable.


With a bit of caution and care, and a modicum of trust, you should have little difficulty finding a company that will handle your sale in a professional and upright manner. Best of luck on your sale!

Alternatives to Holding A Garage Sale

The truth is, while the idea of holding a garage sale is perfect for some people, there are times when holding a full-blown garage sale isn’t the best option. You may not have enough items to warrant holding a garage sale or you may just not want to go through the hassle. The good news is that there are plenty of other options to get rid of your unwanted items and still make money. Here are just a few.

Sell Children’s Items to a Consignment Boutique

If you have gently used children’s clothes, toys or books that you’re looking to get rid of, consider taking these items to a children’s consignment boutique. In today’s world, parents are trying to stretch their dollar as far as they possibly can. As such, children’s consignment boutiques are becoming more and more frequented by buyers. That means that shops will give you a reasonable offer for your unwanted items. Consider calling local boutiques in your vicinity to find out what their processes are and what hot-ticket items they’re looking for.

Sell Women’s Items to Second-hand Stores

Thanks to the push in the sustainable clothing movement, second-hand stores are shedding their fashion faux-pas stigma. Now, it’s cool to wear clothes that you purchased from a second-hand boutique. In fact, it’s even considered honorable and trendy. As such, women’s resale boutiques are more popular than they’ve ever been before. If you have gently used women’s clothing, accessories and shoes you’re looking to get rid of, take those items to a local boutique to quickly and easily make some money and get rid of the clutter.

Sell Your Books on Amazon

If you’re a college student or someone who collects books, consider reselling them on Amazon after you’ve finished reading them to clear up some space on your bookshelf and make some of your money back. Amazon makes it easy to check the resale value of your books, too, so you don’t have to guess how much they may or may not be worth.

Sell Items on HoardNot

If you have niche or kitschy items to sell, HoardNot is the best platform for you. Sellers from across the U.S. use the app every day in search of vintage, unique items and crafting supplies. As such, if you happen to be flush with these items, you should list them on the app to make your money back and declutter your space.

Sell on Facebook

Facebook is a powerful tool for connecting with people—and it’s also equally as powerful for selling unwanted items. You can join local Facebook selling groups within your community, too, making it even easier to sell your items for cold hard cash to people that want it from your community.

Facebook can also put you in touch with those who might host community in-person yard sales. You can reach out to these groups to see if you can join their community sale. In these events, you get all the perks of a typical yard sale without having to go through the work of organizing one in your own space.


If you’re ready to get rid of your clutter and make some money doing just that, but aren’t ready to hold a full-blown garage sale, don’t panic. The alternatives outlined above are real ways that you can make valuable cash without going through the trouble of holding a garage sale.

How to Spot Fake Antiques and Collectibles

When you’re shopping at a garage sale and looking for antiques or collectibles, you need to be extremely careful. Sometimes, what seems like a good deal is too good to be true, and you end up buying a fake antique. Use these strategies to help avoid buying a fake antique.

Identifying Antique Furniture

Unfortunately, identifying the style of a piece of furniture won’t help you determine if it’s an antique. Manufacturers often reproduce pieces from other eras, and some styles, like Shaker wood furniture, never really go out of fashion.

  • Examine all sides of the piece. If it’s a table, turn it over and look for marks or labels. If it’s a sofa, remove the cushions to look for a tag or label. Most factory-made items will include some sort of identifier.
  • Check the surface of the piece. Do you see saw marks? What about underneath or on the back panel of a drawer? If the saw marks appear to be semi-circular, the piece was probably made using a circular saw after about 1880. If the saw marks appear to be straight lines, the piece was likely made before 1910 using a straight saw.
  • Look at the joinery. Are drawers dove-tailed? How many dove-tails are used to join the panels? Are they all the same, or do they appear to be cut by hand? If the dove-tails are uneven, few in number, and appear handmade, your piece of furniture likely predates the Civil War.
  • Check the finish of the piece. If possible, find a hidden spot on the bottom or back of the furniture to test the finish. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, and rub it gently on an inconspicuous surface. Does it dissolve the finish? If it does, the piece may be finished in shellac, a popular option before 1860.

How to Identify Antique Silver

Before the invention of stainless steel, sterling silver and silver-plated items were found in every home. Even today, silver-plated picture frames and other decorative items are popular gifts. There are several steps involved in identifying an antique.

  • First, examine the silver for marks. If it’s sterling silver, it will be marked with the word “sterling” or “925.” You’ll also see a symbol that represents the manufacturer of the pattern.
  • Use a silver hallmark guide like the ones on Antique Cupboard or the Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks to identify the manufacturer.
  • From there, examine all the patterns made by this manufacturer, and match one to yours. Most silver websites, such as Antique Cupboard, will tell you when your pattern was made. If it’s more than 50 years old, you have an antique.

How to Identify Antique China and Glassware

Wondering if your grandmother’s china is antique or something she picked up a few years ago? The process for identifying china and glassware is similar to identifying antique silver.

  • Start by looking for any markings. On many pieces, you’ll find a maker’s mark stamped on the bottom of the dish or plate.
  • Use a site like How to Identify Antique Ceramics to match the mark to the maker.
  • Browse a service like Replacements, Ltd to identify and date the pattern.
  • For glassware, which often does not have marks, visit the Glass Encyclopedia from 20th Century Glass to find the type, age, and pattern of your piece.

With a little attention to detail and patience, you can put these tricks to work and identify fake antiques from real antiques.

Ultimate Garage Sale Checklist

If you’ve decided to throw a garage sale, you probably know that there’s a lot of planning that’s involved for a successful sale. Moreover, you probably know that following a timeline and remaining organized is essential to avoid forgetting something. Knowing where to start though, can be tricky, especially if you’re new holding garage sales. But, don’t worry. We’ve put together the ultimate garage sale checklist to help you run a successful sale at every step of the way.

Preparing for the Sale

Up to Six Weeks Out from the Sale

– Choose the sale date

– Research and purchase any required permits

– Research any regulations regarding yard sale signs or other marketing

– Go through your home to gather yard sale items for sale

– Conduct some market research to help you determine proper pricing

– Research online sites to determine proper pricing for hot-ticket items

– Start saving shopping bags and boxes

– Rent tables, if you don’t have enough of your own

– Research credit card payment options, and order one if you think it’s right for you

Two Weeks Out from the Sale

– Find the best spots in the neighborhood to advertise your sale

– Make your yard sale marketing signs. Make sure to purchase thick poster board and markets,   and duct tape or wooden stakes so you can fasten your signs

– Purchase your pricing supplies (think: neon price stickers and a fine-point marker)

– Clean/wash your yard sale items on an as-needed basis

One Week Out from the Sale

– Put out your yard sale marketing signs

– Put out a yard sale advertisement in your local paper, on Facebook and on any community apps

– Price all of your items. Consider keeping a running book of prices too, just in case a sticker falls off

– Decide on a plan for unsold merchandise so you’re not scrambling after the last day of the sale

Two/Three Days Prior to the Sale

– Consider the layout for your sale

– If your sale is in your garage, make sure to do these things:

  • Move non-sale items out or mark them with “Not for Sale” signs.
  • Set up your sale tables by item type
  • Reserve a few big showy items for the driveway to attract customers
  • Set up small, expensive items in an easy-to-watch area or by the cashier’s table, if    you’re having one
  • Set up a table or box for shopping bags and newspapers so customers can wrap fragile items
  • Clean out the garage

– Start setting up your sale items

– Go to the bank to get change for your sale

  • Make sure to get 25-50 $1 bill, at least one roll of quarters, dimes and nickels, and a few packs of $5 and $10 bills
  • Set up your credit card payment machine if you ordered one

Day Prior to the Sale

– Hang or place yard sale signs on your yard to advertise the upcoming sale

– Rope off areas where you don’t want to have customers going

– Charge your cell phone

– Set up your cash box

– Set up all remaining items and tables

– Move non-sale items away from the sale area

The Sale

Morning of the Sale

– Finish any last-minute set up

– Keep your cellphone on your person at all times

– Arrange items in a way that’s easy for customers to browse

– Consider putting large furniture or other hot-ticket items near the street to attract foot customers

– Put smaller or more expensive items near the checkout table to make sure none slip out of your site

– Put your collected boxes and bags next to the checkout area so you can wrap items up for customers after they check out

After the Sale

– Clean up any messes from the sale

– Return any borrowed tables

– Take down all of your yard sale signs

– Gather your leftover items for donation or resale, whatever you’ve previously decided


Use this checklist to get yourself set for your upcoming garage sale. Remember, staying organized and being prepared is key for your sale’s success.

Why Government and Local Policies Are Important to Host a Garage Sales

If you’ve decided that it’s time for you to declutter your home and make some money getting rid of the things you no longer use, it’s time for a garage sale. In addition to planning the perfect weekend, setup and pricing of your items, there’s one extremely important planning step you’ll need to consider for your garage sale. That step is: checking community, local and statewide regulations regarding garage sales. Read on to learn more.

Check Legal Regulations for the Sale Itself

Business owners in cities and towns are required to get a business license or a type of permit in order to open and run their business. Some cities, towns or states view garage sales in the same regard that they view businesses. As such, there may be a requirement for you to obtain a permit or license in order to legally hold a garage sale. Some cities or towns will have specific requirements for the frequency you hold garage sales. Others will have other requirements as far as the time and length of your sale. That’s why it’s so important to check regulations before you hold your sale.

In fact, not obtaining the proper licensing or permit requirements is one of the top 10 mistakes people make when they hold a garage sale. When all is said and done, the cost of obtaining a permit is much less expensive than the cost of paying fines or litigation in the event that you run an illegal sale.

The town in which you live might not have specific requirements for hosting a sale, but it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. To find out if there are legal requirements surrounding your garage sale, be sure to reach out to your local civic center. You can also try searching their website to see if there is any information available online. While it may seem like a pain to do, it will be a bigger pain and inconvenience if you have to go to court or pay a fine over an unlicensed yard sale.

Check Marketing Regulations

Even if a city doesn’t impose regulations on a yard sale itself, there may be rules on how you can market the sale. As such, it’s important to investigate these potential regulations to ensure that you’re not breaking any laws, which can cause a legal and financial headache down the road.

For example, some cities have rules on how many signs you can post for your yard sale, where you can post the signs and what types of signs you can post. While posting a sign may seem inherently harmless, if you’re not careful, it could get you into trouble.

And, even if there aren’t explicit laws in place surrounding yard sale marketing, it’s always important to practice common curtesy. That means that you should check with the owners of a corner home before putting signs in their lawn advertising your sale. You should also avoid posting your sign over someone else’s sign, or at least check with the other sale before you post anything.

Notify Your Neighbors

While you may have the best neighbors in the world, it’s always a great idea to let them know about your upcoming sale, including the times the sale will run and the days the sale will run. This lets them know to expect cars they don’t recognize being outside their home and that there will be more people than they’re used to in the neighborhood. Try to be as considerate as possible.


Through practicing due diligence and pulling the necessary permits, you can avoid a potential legal and financial disaster. Don’t make the mistake—research the permits and legal regulations now!

Purchasing Vintage Items at a Yard Sale

If you’re someone who loves finding good vintage items, you’ll be in heaven when you visit local garage sales. What’s one man’s trash is another’s treasure, and you’d be surprised at what people are looking to get rid of. Here are the things you can commonly find at garage sales across town.

Vintage Tools

Current design trends are embracing rustic and industrial elements. If anything fits that bill, it’s vintage tools. Next time you hit up a yard sale, keep an eye out for the box of discarded tools in the corner. Many other shoppers will overlook rusty or dirty tools, which will work in your advantage.

With a little bit of elbow grease, you can easily clean up the tools that you find to resell or reuse at your home. Or, you can resell these charmingly rustic items online for a pretty penny. Another option for you is to use these vintage tools as decoration throughout your house. Pretty much anything found in a basement or garage tends to be overlooked by most people. And that’s where you’re likely to find tools, and because many people don’t maintain their tools very well, they are often dirty and/or rusty.

Vintage Frames

You can use vintage frames for just about anything. From using them as actual picture frames to using them as mirrors, the options are endless. Vintage frames are another item that’s typically overlooked at garage sales, you can typically get a good deal. You can find beautiful ornate frames, gold-gilt frames or even mahogany frames at your local yard sales.

If you plan on reselling items that you buy from yard sales, frames are one of the easiest items to refurbish. All you’ll need to do is clean up the frame, patch any holes and throw on a fresh coat of paint for a brand-new vibe. If you want to preserve the vintage vibes, be sure to still clean any frames before you sell them.

Vintage Jewelry

One thing that will always be popular to purchase from yard sales is vintage jewelry. There’s something uniquely classic about adding a piece of stunning vintage jewelry to an outfit. Often, you can’t enhance an outfit with modern jewelry like you can with a piece from the past.

There are plenty of people who discard old jewelry for next to nothing price-wise, so you can usually get a good deal on the pieces you like. Consider purchasing a few different pieces and asking for a bulk discount to get a good deal.

If you plan on reselling any vintage jewelry that you find, please make sure that you clean it before trying to resell it. You’re sure to get better offers if your jewelry is clean.


Your community’s yard sales are a vintage treasure trove waiting to be discovered. With a keen eye for detail and some patience, you’re sure to uncover the vintage items your heart desires. Make sure to look for obvious signs of wear and tear before making a purchase and remember to be respectful when you go shopping.

The 5 People You’ll Meet at a Garage Sale

If you’re thinking about hosting a garage sale, you need to prepare yourself for the many different types of people you’ll meet. Obviously, there’s no true way to tell who’s going to walk up your driveway to shop your goods until the garage sale officially starts, but you should be prepared to deal with any of the following types of people that frequent garage sales.

The Extreme Early Bird

It’s a pretty common saying that the “early bird gets the worm.” Following that mindset, there are diehard garage sale fanatics who believe that the only way to get the best items is to be the first one to look around your sale. That means that they’ll be there while you’re still setting up and they’ll want to look around right away.

The Moms

You’ll hear this group of shoppers before you see them. Often arriving in a large car with one or two children, this well-dressed group of ladies will pull up together ready to shop for all things related to their kids. While these shoppers are often a fun bunch and extremely polite, be sure to watch out for their unattended children who will want to touch everything that’s in their site. If you’re polite to these ladies, they’re sure to come back next year or spread the word about your sale to their other friends.

The Garage Sale Buyer Aficionado

This type of person knows garage sales like they’re a true professional. As such, they come into your sale with a strict mindset on how your items should be priced and how your sale should run. This person will question your pricing and most certainly try to lecture you on how to run your sale. Try to not let this person get in your head or make you lose your cool.

The Negotiator

It’s human nature for shoppers to want to strike a deal, and that sometimes will come at your expense. Even if you’ve fairly priced your items, you need to be prepared for the negotiating-type people to walk through your door. They’ll be dedicated to getting the best deal possible, even if it offends you. Keep your cool and don’t give in. Only negotiate if their offer is fair. At the end of the day, it’s better to have them leave empty-handed than to sell your items for too low of a price.

The Shopper

Every sale has at least one guest who has zero intentions of making a real purchase. Instead, they want to just walk around looking at your items and telling you how overpriced they are. If you try to ask them what price she’s comfortable with, they’ll likely just give you an exasperated sigh and leave empty-handed. Don’t take it personally. 


By being prepared for the potential buyers that will be in attendance at your next yard sale, you can ensure a smooth experience. Remember that you’re in control, because it’s your sale, and don’t make any deals that you’re not comfortable with.