Garage Sale Checklist

Wide view of suburban yard sale
David Sacks / Getty Images

When you're planning a yard sale, following a timeline and staying organized are musts. Otherwise, it's far too easy to forget something crucial. To minimize the stress and increase your profits, keep your sale on track with this simple garage sale checklist and timeline.

Three to Six Weeks Before the Sale

  • Set the date
  • Purchase any permits your city requires
  • Check on local rules or restrictions for yard sale signs
  • Gather definite yard sale items into one area of your home or garage
  • Attend a few yard sales in your area to get a feel for local pricing on common items
  • Research pricing on antiques, collectibles and other items of value
  • Start saving shopping bags, boxes, and newspaper
  • Arrange to borrow or rent folding tables if you don't have any

Two Weeks Before the Sale

  • Drive the neighborhood and decide where you'll place your yard sale signs
  • Buy supplies for yard sale signs: neon poster board, thick black marker, staple gun or duct tape, and wooden stakes if you can't hang signs on telephone poles or street signs
  • Buy pricing supplies: preprinted neon price stickers or blank neon stickers and a fine-point permanent marker
  • Buy or borrow an apron with lots of pockets or a fanny pack
  • Clean, polish, and wash your yard sale items as needed

One Week Before the Sale

  • Place yard sale ads in the newspaper classifieds and on Craigslist, scheduled to start running a day or two before the first sale day
  • Price and tag every item you plan to sell
  • Make yard sale signs
  • Decide what you'll do with unsold merchandise: schedule a thrift store pick-up or make "Free" signs to place on curbside leftovers

Two or Three Days Before the Sale

  • Get change from the bank; 25 to 50 one dollar bills, a few fives and tens, at least one roll of quarters, and a handful each of dimes and nickels

If you're having the sale in your garage:

  • 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

The Day Before the Sale

  • Pack your apron or fanny pack with your change, a pen, and a small calculator
  • Hang or place your yard sale signs
  • Mark or move non-sale items, like planters, garden hoses, and statuary, from your yard and porch
  • Rope off any areas where you don't want customers to go
  • Charge your cell phone

The Morning of the Sale

  • Lock the house
  • Put your cell phone in your pocket

If you're having the sale in the yard or driveway:

  • Set the merchandise out and arrange it by item type
  • Place furniture and other showy items nearest the street to attract customers
  • Display small items such as jewelry close to the house or cashier's table so you can keep watch
  • Put your bags, boxes, and newspapers next to your checkout area

After the Sale

  • Gather leftovers for thrift store pick-up or place them on your curb with a "Free" sign
  • Take down all of your yard sale signs