Garage Sale Tips from a Body Language Expert and Garage Sale Maven. How to Sell Stuff at Your Garage Sale.

Patti Wood, MA, CSP
I remember my first garage sale. The cool heft of a nickel in my hand as I went up the garage sale lades to ask her how much the troll doll cost. I can still feel the thrill of trading the nickel for the yellow haired doll. I was hooked. I helped my mom with our family garage sale when we moved and twenty years of Saturdays, getting up at the crack of dawn for the treasure hunt. As an expert in nonverbal communication I have my list of tips of the trade to help you get more sales at your garage sale.

Create Curb Appeal
·         Garage sales have curb appeal.  People will drive by a sale that does not look appealing. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges make sure the house and garage are clean. Put some flowers in pots by the door. Do all that the week before your sale and you can get more buyers. If you have stuff in your garage you are not selling get it out of the garage or use lots of sheets and duct tape to cover the items completely. You will get people who want to peek no matter what but it looks better than too much extra stuff.

·         Signage is key, Use one color for ALL your signs so people can see the signs and know they lead to your house. USE BIG ARROWS pointing them to your house at ALL the intersections and they will love you and not be stressed and give up getting to you. You want your garage sale buyer to be calm and happy when they pull up to your house. People take less than 1/300th of a second to form a first impression of your house, your sale and you, as the seller, smile and say welcome!

·         Have fun interesting sale items close to the road so people driving by are intrigued. Furniture, colorful nice items to draw the eye and attention.

·         If you have big items like furniture or rugs you want to move, make sure they are clean and accessible.  Photos of furniture that you have inside your house don’t draw people to your sale.

·         Don’t have a lemonade stand as some people feel pressured to buy and will keep driving. And helping your kids sell lemonade distracts you from selling. Sell lemonade on the Friday before the sale and have your signs at the stand advertising your sale the next day.

Tips for Setting Up
·         Print the price or buy the price printed on the tag so it is easy to see and buy. I can’t emphasize it enough, make your  price tags readable.

·         Pricing is generally not the same as retail. For smalls it is typically 1/10 of what you could pay for it at a store. Having old dusty stuff doesn’t mean you’re pricing valuable antiques and Antique Road Show and Storage Wars are not the sources of what people will pay for something at a garage sale.  It is worth looking on EBAY to see what it sells for there if you have something you think has value. You need to price it for less. It typically will not sell for the eBay price at most garage sales. People don’t want to hear how much you paid for an item or what it sells for on EBAY. They want a bargain.

·         If you have a lot of “smalls” like kitchen gadgets, office supplies, or jewelry you can group them. Put like small items in a basket or nice box and have a good price to purchase everything together in the basket.  Or you can tie items together with a ribbon or bow.

·         Put items on table at waist level. Only people under 20 will bend down to get something on a blanket or box on the ground.  See if any of your friends have a folding table or buy one or two cheaply at a discount store like Big Lots. You may also be able to borrow some from your church and see if they need what you don’t sell for any of their charities.

·         Put the very valuable items on the table you use as the purchase table and have a family or friend stay at that table. You can buy a shadow box with a glass door top for jewelry at Marshals for 10 dollars. Tape it shut so people can see the jewelry but you have to open it for them to touch it.  Or keep the jewelry pined to you on an apron with a name tag that says this jewelry is for sale.

How to be the Best Salesperson
·         Wear a fanny/waist pack. It keeps your money close to your body and it acts as an easy way for shoppers to identify who they need to pay.

·         If you really want to aid shoppers, wear a big ole name tag. You can have it read, “Hi I am _____ ASK ME QUESTIONS or “BUY IT FROM ME” This makes the shopping experience more personal as well. People can use your name! 

·         Have the purchase spot in the middle of the sale don’t make them have to search for you or walk to buy.

·         Price everything. Many people are too shy or uncomfortable asking what something costs. They will walk away from something they want rather than have to ask you. Price it.

·         Notice the body language of a buyer and say you would be happy to bargain or give them 10% off if they look indecisive.

·         Sales begat sales.  Have a friend buy something from you when you have a few people there (g. I Isopraxism is creates a pull to the same energy. It explains why fish swim together in schools, birds fly together in formation, why we do the wave at a football game.)

·         Thank them when they purchase and ask them to call and tell others about the sale.

·         Have little books or safe toys available to give to small children. Hand them to the children with a smile and say that it is a free gift.  It is fun for them, for you and is a kind thing to do for all the parents who are teaching their kids the joys of garage sales.

·         Be willing to give price breaks and discounts. You may want to say to anyone asking for a big discount at 7:30 in the morning that you will start discounting after 11:00. If you give discount early you may get a rush of everyone expecting discounts. Isopraxism creates a pull to the same energy.  If you just want to get rid of your stuff that pull is great, but if you are trying to make a higher profit wait to discount.

Patti Wood is an expert in First Impressions and Nonverbal Communication
Her most recent book is called SNAP –Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma

 Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at