Being a Good Garage Sale Host

Do you have what it takes to be a good garage sale host?  Here's a quick overview of some basic principles you should follow:

An accommodating garage sale host.Put on a smile for every customer.  Don't just plop into a chair at the sales table and look up with a grunt when someone approaches.  You need to sell your items!  Which means you need to start by selling yourself, with a friendly greeting or at the least a welcoming smile.  Garage sales are a time to put aside your prejudices and treat every customer the way you want to be treated the next time you visit a yard sale.

Be prepared to barter.  You can't be surprised when someone approaches you with an offer of a lower price -- you need to be ready to name your price and then slowly barter down.  Sure, there might be some pieces you aren't prepared to sell away for low sums, but in general, bartering is a part of the garage sale life.  Know how to successfully barter and go into your sale prepared.

Start out with lots of change, and be willing to round down.  Forcing customers to dig around for coins and bills because you don't have the right change is rude.  Sure, they should have come prepared, but you're the one making money, so you should be the one with the bulk of the change.  Even if they hand you a twenty, you should make change if you can, although it's okay to ask for smaller bills if you've been getting a lot of larger ones.  Also, if they can't find that last quarter, be willing to just round down and let them keep the extra.

Show customers where to park.  Make some signs and point out the best spots for your customers' vehicles.  While you're at it, point out where they can't drive -- a polite sign saying "please don't park in the driveway" should be enough to deter all but the most stubborn customers.

Use large, visible price tags.  It's annoying to have to ask how much the host wants for something every few moments, so when you're pricing your items, use big tags that will easily catch your customers' attention.  If you aren't firm on your prices, you can be more lax about this, but you may end up with clientele irritated at the lack of ballpark pricing.

Provide bags for carrying away items.  Just some simple plastic grocery bags will do, but make sure you have plenty on hand.  Start collecting a few weeks ahead of time, and ask neighbors and friends if you need some extras.

 Visit GarageSaleCow.com for many more helpful garage sale tips and tricks!  It's the nation's biggest online garage sale community, and it's absolutely free!




Comments (21) -

Adrian Michael
Adrian Michael
2/14/2013 12:48:50 PM #


Cool Signs Collector here Smile I collect cool signs especially those used in bar and pubs. If it has bright lights and interesting designs then i would try to get my hands on it. Just have to spend money wisely nowadays and not let my compulsion to buy right away get the best of me. Chow

Vanz Renzi
Vanz Renzi
2/14/2013 12:52:37 PM #


Not a good person relations type of guy to begin with My mom usually handles all the talking and greeting the costumers as they arrive on our garage sales. need to have that kind of magic to talk my way through people to attract more buyers and encourage them to come back. she told me to practice in front of a mirror to hone my skills, been practicing since then...

Aiko Jane
Aiko Jane
2/14/2013 12:57:39 PM #

Providing bags for consumers is not a problem with our family. We always collected the grocery bags we got and saved them for future use Only to know, it could be of great value and save us a lot of dollars . Instead of buying these new colorful bags to attract people, we recycled and made ourselves role models to have a better environment. Its quite surprising how a simple grocery bag could have that much impact

Fred Thomas
Fred Thomas
2/16/2013 8:06:18 AM #

Greet your costumers with a smile and a positive attitude. It could establish a lasting relationship with your avid costumers and even be friends. It would be a good foundation if you welcome them warmly so they would be comfortable and more likely to purchase goods from you. Even if you don't like a costumer, treat him with respect and act professionally.

Claude Davis
Claude Davis
2/16/2013 8:12:22 AM #

A small act of kindness like what the article said like assisting them to park will be a plus to your sale. Acts of courtesy could bring you far and build you a trustful of costumers. With the positive feedback they receive, it could then spread with the word of tongue and bring you more costumers the next time around you host one.


But if you're frowning and act rudely then SURELY you'll have a poor outcome and your garage sale is a disaster waiting to happen.

Andy Chambers
Andy Chambers
2/21/2013 12:36:20 AM #

I came across this rude costumer once. He was very annoying yet he wasn't buying anything. He was just there to make the event uncomfortable. I just approached him in a calm manner and asked him to leave properly. I didn't make a scene despite the fact that I really want to teach him a lesson. I though that if I would punch him or do something stupid, that would jeopardize my garage sale and my future ones. So I just kept my cool and went on the event. It was a successful event even if there were some difficulties I faced like that man.

Clifton Holt
Clifton Holt
2/21/2013 12:43:15 AM #

You sound like a great guy Fred.

How many garage sales have you hosted cause I'm planning to host a garage sale soon. We already have too much going on inside our house. Its a mess and I want to clean up a bit and sell those old clothes we have, furnitures, etc...

Seth Fletcher
Seth Fletcher
2/21/2013 12:47:56 AM #

Be flexible enough when it comes to dealing with prices. You want to gain loyal costumers and give them discounts accordingly. It would not hurt your sales that much if you cut about $1-$2 on each item. That strategy would eventually pay-off because they will realize that you are selling cheaper and that you're a trusted seller.

Ivan Fuller
Ivan Fuller
2/21/2013 2:21:06 AM #

Don't ever frown in front of your costumers. Even if you're having a bad day, just smile for just the remainder of the garage sale. The smile on your face could be just what your costumers need. The feel of sale will be friendly and not seem like their spending a lot of money.

Next is you need to have everything prepared before starting the garage sale. Prepare your change beforehand. You need to save as much time as possible doing sales talks and entertaining your costumers. It will have a negative impact on me if the host is always going to and fro finding change for my purchase.

Ned Stark
Ned Stark
2/22/2013 10:25:41 AM #

Be kind and polite towards your costumers. I don't mean have the mentality of "The costumer is always right." Act according to what the situation demands, for example, if a costumer is ranting about a mistake then hear him/her out and see what you can to remedy that problem. If you're approached by an angry costumer, don't meet him with aggression because it will not end well. Keep calm and take control of the situation.

Stephanie Smith
Stephanie Smith
2/25/2013 12:02:40 AM #

Well, I really haven't experienced hosting or organizing a garage sale. But upon reading this article, i can say that i really do have what it takes to be a good garage sale host..

I agree that the host should be really friendly and approachable. if i were the customer, i wouldn't be pleased if i was ignored.. i would feel really bad..I would want the host to be smiling.. Also, preparations are really important. I can't just organize the garage sale for one night and expect it to be a success..

I'm now motivated to start my own garage sale!

Donna Harrison
Donna Harrison
2/25/2013 9:48:53 AM #

I completely agree with you Stephanie, I wouldn't feel good if the host is not welcoming and greeting the shoppers. As they say, first impressions last, I will always remember how the host treated me when I first got to the sale. My loyalty and trust will be earned from the moment I enter the area. The fate of his garage sale lies on the little details like being a good person relations guy and treating the shoppers well.

Ned Stark
Ned Stark
2/25/2013 9:53:43 AM #

How did your situation end up ANDY?

If I were in your situation, I may not be able to hold my self back. haha Even if I'm a kind person and not hot tempered, there are some moments that I need to express my feelings and it ends badly. I'm thankful I'm not the one who met that guy because I could have wasted all my preparations by fighting with that guy.

Fred Thomas
Fred Thomas
2/25/2013 9:59:53 AM #

Hey man, I'm sorry I didn't notice your comment Clifton because there is a lot going on in this article already Smile

Regarding your question, I have hosted 4 garage sales already. I started 2 years ago because my mom, who was a garage sale fanatic, brought me with her one time. I fell in love with garage sale since then, I enjoy meeting people and finding exquisite items I can utilize in my home.

Jermaine Carrol
Jermaine Carrol
2/28/2013 2:13:11 PM #

Treat your shoppers as your guests. Accommodate them and see to it that they're comfortable in your sale. Converse with them and get to know them a little more. Respect your costumers and as much as possible, don't argue and make a scene with a costumer. Try to understand them that they're just doing their job to make sure that they're getting a quality item. Ask rude and annoying costumers to leave properly but know when to reason out. When the shopper goes beyond the line and tells you things below the belt, learn to stand and fight for your dignity. Don't let them judge you and look down on you just because you need them for your sales.

Danny Neal
Danny Neal
3/3/2013 6:12:48 AM #

Treat you costumers as what you would want a host to treat you when going to a garage sale. It's just the simple golden rule that says "Do not do unto others, what you don't want others to do unto you." Respect everyone in your sale and do not make any rush decisions when dealing with angry costumers. You don't have to shout or make a scene if you could just talk things through calmly. And besides, you would not get anything good from quarreling with your costumers.

Ethan Vaughn
Ethan Vaughn
3/3/2013 6:17:43 AM #

Danny's right! Always think before you act and never let your emotions get the best of you. Learn to control that intense feeling and channel it properly to a more acceptable activity. That's called sublimation, which is, you're engaging to a more calm and acceptable activity to express your emotions like playing sports. You would not only be fit physically but also mentally. You can vent out your emotions by playing hard, not dirty, in basketball. Or you could try relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises everyday.

Sophia Choate
Sophia Choate
3/3/2013 6:22:47 AM #

Try to impress your costumers by showing them hospitality and kindness. Be accommodating and make them feel that they're at ease or at home when shopping in your garage sale. Don't make you sale too formal but instead, turn it to a social gathering where people would talk endlessly and meet new friends while shopping in your sale. Make the atmosphere like you've all been friends for a long time and you're all doing this for a cause.

Liam Carman
Liam Carman
3/3/2013 6:26:24 AM #

If your costumers are trying to bargain and get a good deal out of an item they want, then try your best to "bend" and try to make both ends meet. You want to be a generous person but at the same time, make sure that you're earning some profit from your items. Even if the profit for each item is not that much, at least you've got something and you've sold a lot already. The important thing is that you got rid of your clutter and you earned some money in return.

Olivia Daily
Olivia Daily
3/3/2013 6:32:34 AM #

I go with my friends to garage sale if we have the opportunity to do so. We've encountered nice, kind hosts but also we've got our fair share of rude, disrespectful, boastful hosts. One time, we went to this garage sale in one of my friend's neighborhood and here comes the boastful host, he always gets to everybody's face all the time. He's so strict especially with children because he's afraid that they will break some items and make a mess in his sale. He wasn't anywhere near approachable, he would just stay in the counter and not even talk to his costumers.

That was an experience to remember but I learned to appreciate a good, nice host when I come across one because of my "bad host experience." Smile

Anthony Mason Jr.
Anthony Mason Jr.
3/3/2013 6:38:59 AM #

For all the things, they have said, I just want to sum it up "Make your Garage Sale Costumer Friendly." Ensure that they have no difficulties in going through your items especially on the price tags, make them visible and attractive. Have an organized area to facilitate easy access to any part of your sale and don't forget to ENJOY. You will be doing this for a whole day so don't waste your time sitting on a chair and watch people pass by, go out there and mingle and talk to them. It's the time to put your marketing and business skills to the test, it's great to have challenges once in a while.

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