8 Tips for Determining Garage Sale Pricing

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated June 23, 2022
Woman putting price tags on items
Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Boost your chances of garage sale success with this handy pricing guide

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Garage sales are an excellent way to clear out items and make more room in your home while also making some money. But if you’re more used to browning them than holding them yourself, you might not know exactly where to start. 

Luckily, with a few tips, you can learn the best ways to maximize your sales without too much stress. Using this garage sale pricing guide, you’ll learn the eight best tips for making the most out of your home clear out.

1. Follow the 10% Rule

There is an unspoken rule in the garage sale world: You never charge more than 10% of the retail price. So this means if you bought a product for $20, you shouldn’t charge more than $2 for the item at your garage sale. If these items are high quality and come from luxury brands, you may get away with moving the prices up to 20%, but this blanket rule can help you keep prices low enough to get plenty of sales.

2. Check Other Garage Sales

Even though your garage sale is only one to two days long, competitor research is still necessary to an extent. It may seem intense, but in this case, this will just involve window shopping at some other garage and estate sales in town and checking out their stock and prices. Just try not to bring home any more items that will just end up in future garage sales.

If one garage sale is selling shirts for $1 each and people are snapping them up in bulk, it’s a good sign you should price your shirts in the same range. You can experiment with raising the prices to $2, but then you run the risk of losing money when people only buy two shirts instead of 10.

3. Price Items in 5-Cent Increments 

Chances are you’ll need to give change during your garage sale, and you’ll thank yourself later when you only price items in increments of $0.05, $0.10, and $0.25. Making change is significantly easier when you’re not dealing with pennies. People often pay in dollars and buy in bulk, so you’re likely going to need $1 bills as well.

Be sure to have some bills and coins ready at the start, but following this tip will help you always have change at the ready.

4. Check for Hidden Gems Online

Have a collector’s-edition item such as an exclusive vinyl or figure? Check the online prices first before you throw them on the garage sale table. You may find yourself with valuable items that routinely sell for hundreds of dollars rather than a shiny quarter.

Granted, you’ll need to deal with shipping and handling, but the higher prices often outweigh the extra expenses. There’s a reason there are TV shows dedicated to people who found super-rare items just hiding out at garage sales.

5. Prioritize Quantity Over Quality

With garage sales, you’ll want to prioritize quantity over quality. Quality items will often sell higher on an online marketplace or through private selling anyway, so focus on simply getting a lot of items out the (garage) door. 

So if you have a stack of books, price them all at $0.50 to $1 and watch as people pick up 10 of them at a time. If you give people too many different prices, they’re likely only to buy one or two that stand out. Shirts, pants, dishes, and anything else you have in bulk should all follow the same pricing. 

Keep individual items separate, such as toys, furniture, and appliances.

6. Price Items Higher If It Has the Tag on It

The only exception to the 10 or 20% rule is if the items still have the tag on them and are unworn. Consider charging 30 to 40% instead. Remember, these are still items that don’t have a return policy, so you can’t charge the item’s full price, but you may be able to get a little more for these.

But rather than keeping it in the same pile as the bulk items, keep it in its own place. The organization is a key component of any successful garage sale. Be sure to accurately label it as never worn, and you can rest easy knowing someone is still getting a great deal. 

7. Determine Garage Sale Pricing by Category

Each item you sell will fall into one of a few general categories. Common categories you’ll find at a garage sale include:

Garage Sale CategoryPrice
Clothes$0.25 – $1
Accessories$0.25 – $1
Shoes$1 – $10
Furniture$10 – $50
Decor$0.25 – $5
Sheets and linens$1 – $10
Books$0.50 – $2
CDs and vinyls$0.25 – $2
Video games$5 – $10
Movies$5 – $10
Toys$0.25 – $5
Appliances$10 – $30
Dishes$1 – $5

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle

Garage sale items
Photo: Alexey Fedorenko / Adobe Stock

At the end of the day, this is your garage sale. You set the price tags, so you can change them as you see fit. If someone offers a lower price, counteroffer them as a way to ensure these items are finally out of your house.

Try not to haggle at the beginning of the sale, as you might have someone else come in and pay full price. Wait towards the afternoon when you’re ready to say goodbye to these items for good, no matter the price.

What Should I Do With Unsold Garage Sale Items?

The best outcome of a weekend-long garage sale is that your inventory is empty and your cash box is full. However, there are typically a few items left over after a garage sale, even if it was a success.

After the garage sale ends, take stock of the furniture, appliances, and household items left and determine what to do next. If your unsold items are in good condition, consider donating them to a local charity or donation pick-up service to give back to the community. But if your unsold items are worse for wear, your best bet is to hire a hauling service near you to clear away the clutter.

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