Garage Sale Signs: What NOT to Do and How to Drive Traffic to Your Sale

As you all know, I'm a frequent garage sale-r. I remember going to sales when I was teeny tiny with my mom picking up small baby clothes for my baby dolls. After decades of experience, literally decades, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to garage sale signs. If you are having a garage sale, isn't the main goal to drive traffic to your very brief sale? If so, I'm going to give you a quick overview of garage sales, a few different names people use for sales and how to drive traffic to your sale so that you can make the most money!


Garage Sale Signs: What Not to Do and How to Drive Traffic to Your Sale


Start here: The Biggest Garage Sale Mistake You Can Make!

Garage sales are called all sorts of things. People who know me as an avid saler will often ask me what each of these terms means. You might have heard them called rummage sales, estate sales, patio sales, yard sales, church sales, or neighborhood sales. Let me break these different types of sales down for you.

What is an Estate Sale

An estate sale typically means that someone is liquidating an entire household of years of accumulated treasures. Most of the time people have died, and sometimes people are downsizing or moving out of the country or area. Usually, it's a whole house and you are free to walk from the garage, to the kitchen, to the bedrooms and more examining all of the goodies that there are to offer.

A Word of Caution about Estate Sales

You are in someone's home. Alone. Make sure someone knows where you are. I usually take this time to give my husband a call on my cell phone, or I drop my location so that at least someone knows where I'm at. I will rarely take small kids to estate sales, especially if I'm by myself because I don't want to put all of us in a vulnerable position. 

Usually, the estate sale is busy and there are a lot of people around so you are never in any form of danger, but just be cautious. If it feels weird, leave.

I usually find lots of vintage treasures at estate sales. I can almost always bank on the fact that I will find sewing notions {old people sew!}, and there are usually a lot of tools or household cleaners {most are often hard to dispose of, so you can get a killer deal!}. 

I don't love estate sales when they are run by a corporation. What does this mean? A grieving family who needs to liquidate a household has already gathered sentimental items they wanted to keep and then hired an estate sale company to run the whole sale. 

This estate sale company benefits from selling items at a higher price because they receive a commission from the items sold. Some of these companies have a clause that allows them to acquire all of the items NOT sold at the sale, and then they can keep them for their own shops or resale endeavors. 

I understand why a family would hire a company. It's definitely much easier. But as a shopper, I feel like these company sales are priced much higher and they are often much firmer on pricing. Many times, the sale will be half off on the final day and that's the only discount that you can count on. So if you do see something that is overpriced, you can often go back a few days later and see if they will budge on the price.

You can usually tell that it's an estate sale run by a company because there are professional signs that will have their company name underneath. There are people manning the doors and giving out tickets or writing your name down in the order in which you arrived to limit how many people are in the home at a time. 

There is often a table at the front that collects money and they often will take credit cards. 

What is a Neighborhood Sale?

A neighborhood sale is typically a group of houses in a neighborhood all having a garage sale at the same time. Some neighborhoods or communities will only allow their residents to have garage sales on specific set dates. Most neighborhood sales are held annually by their HOA and are worth going to since you can get more bang for your buck. 

These are great sales to take your kids or a newbie garage sale-r to since there are a lot of sales in a concentrated area. 

Several of the neighborhood sales that I go to each year have 200+ homes participating. The downside of neighborhood sales is that you can't hit them all or be the first one at each of them. Eventually, the sales will get picked over and all of the good deals will be gone in the first 30 minutes. 
People also feel like neighborhood sales can get to be monotonous. If someone hosts a sale every single year, there are fewer and fewer items that are treasures to be found. This is especially true if people are reselling items, especially vintage items. But since I often buy items that I use personally, I think they are a treasure trove of easy sales to hit and will often set aside a Saturday when I know one of my favorite neighborhoods is having their sale.

How Do You Find Neighborhood Sales?

Most neighborhood sales are put on either by the HOA or the community they are in. They often don't stray from the date they set the year prior. For instance, there has been a neighborhood for years, that would always host a sale the first weekend in June. 

I find neighborhood sales to put on my calendar as soon as I can so I can make summer plans around my favorite sales. Yep, I'm that person. Most HOAs have a Facebook page and will have their sale advertised for their members. If you know someone who lives in the neighborhood, I also don't hesitate to ask them for the date either.

What Is a Church Yard Sale or Rummage Sale?

A church yard sale, rummage sale or even fundraising sale are my second least favorite garage sales behind estate sales run by estate companies to go to. 

In my experience, church and fundraising sales require a lot of hands to pull them off and make them very successful. Those hands are working days ahead of time to gather and sort donations. As they are working to sort, price, and organize, the volunteers are also cherry-picking the best items before those items even make it to the tables of the garage sale {as they should!}. I rarely intentionally show up at a church or fundraising garage sale but when I do, I rarely find anything worth talking about.

Garage Sale or Yard Sale? 

The rest of the names like garage sale, yard sale, or rummage sale, are just different terms people use to call it what it is. Some people {myself included}, who hosts a sale and would never open up her garage for people to shop, will still call it a garage sale even though everything is on the driveway. 

Don't get too literal. People know what these things are. It's like Kleenex. Just call it a garage sale, regardless of where you are physically hosting it, and move on.

Don't miss my book: The Ultimate Garage Sale Handbook. It has everything you need from knowing how to price your items, to how to negotiate!

How to Drive Traffic to Your Garage Sale With the Right Sign


How To Advertise Your Garage Sale

First off, gone are the days when you would go to your local newspaper and pay a few dollars for a small ad with your address directing people to your sale. Advertising is free now, thank you internet.

People still advertise and find garage sales in your local Craigslist, but there are also very localized 
sites on Facebook {often community groups} that are a great place to advertise your sale in. 

Since I'm often out every week, I have a "loop" that I often drive. I love my area and will always find sales just by following signs. With the exception of advertised neighborhood sales that I usually have on my calendar weeks in advance, this is how I often spend my Saturday. 

Garage sale signs really do drive traffic to your sale! 

Because I'm out week after week, I also remember the signs that have been stuck on the pole for weeks too. 

Pro Tip: If I'm out on a Saturday, I won't follow a sign that says the garage sale started on a Friday. If you are having your garage sale on both days, that's fine. Just don't advertise it. A shopper wants to always think that they are the first ones there getting the best selection.

Some signs are really hard to read. If I saw this sign I wouldn't even know where to go! I don't care what your address is or what items you have. I want an arrow showing me where I need to drive to get to your sale. Also, include signs at any street that you need to turn as well. 

While witty, this is too much for me to read in a split second before I have to know where to turn.

No arrow.  So where do I go? Give me the arrow!

This screams of drama.

This is all kinds of wrong.

This may be true but it's really creepy. And I'd also follow this sign. Not going to lie. But maybe ditch the address and make those arrows bigger.

This is the perfect garage sale sign!

This one works too. Especially if you really want to include more information. The reason this sign works is because the arrow is so large!

I actually have a file I'm sharing with you that has the best garage sale signs. You can print them for your next sale and you'll know you have the best sign out there!

Free Garage Sale Sign Printable

So what did we learn today class? We learned that all you need is an arrow. That's it. And that dead people have good estate sales but only when they are run by their bereaved relatives. 

How do you find garage sales?

Don't miss my book: The Ultimate Garage Sale Handbook!


Mrs. S. said...

In 2011 when that guy predicted the "world would end" it happened to fall on our city wide garage sale weekend. Everyone in town was having end of the world sales-so funny!!

The Side Gig said...

I think your comment about company run estate sales could be a regional thing. I live in Michigan and many of the company ones (local companies) will do awesome deals on the last day. They often have "bag sales" where anything the last day can be put in a bag for $5. As I search these sales for re-sale items and things for my house, that is an awesome find. Also check out they often put up pictures beforehand!

Happy Hunting!

Jamie said...

I needed this laugh today! Love the grandma and divorce ones :)

Erika said...

Good "estate sales" are hard to find here. If they are true estate sales (as in someone died or is selling off everything), almost always a company is running it and they are pretty expensive. Plus, professional resellers line up literally hours before hand and get the good stuff. A lot of the other estate sales are really just garage sales.
I'm always jealous of people who live in areas with great deals at garage sales. Here it seems that people over price their junk. It can be crazy.

suzieQ said...

I use Craigslist and Yard Sale Treasure Map which I learned about from Thrift Core: it highlights sales on your route and you can plan your stops.
There aren't too many professionally run sales around and the jury is still out how I feel about them. I rarely will stand in line, since I don't have the time or money to make it worth my while. I kind of think of myself as a vulture, going through the bones. My only complaint was once, the person I was paying was giving me a sale's pitch that the items I was buying were so worth the money, etc. Didn't care for that.
Bad signs are the worse, when they either don't have enough on a long, country road or when they are OLD. When people don't take their signs down, they should have to pay a penalty with any money they made.
I am amazed at some of the modern items that are found on the West Coast, though I bet some people would be green about some of the old timey stuff I am able to find. I guess it works out.

The Berg Family said...

I am cracking up, reading some of your tips and some signs on here! I love your advice....relevant, true and so simple really: an arrow:). Thanks for another great read, and helpful tips!

Unknown said...

I am so new to your blog but I love it! :) Keep writing such great posts! :)

Meaningful Mama said...

Not planning a garage sale anytime soon, but I saw one of the signs on the Gingerbread link party and had to come over for the laugh.

Cap Creations said...

Wow you managed to find some crazy signs! And yeah I've had the creepy I gotta get out of here feeling at a sale before. Not good. Thanks for joining us at Cap Creations.!

Liz @ Quirky Vistas said...

Ha! That cracks me up, I feel as if you were with me even just this morning. I was hung up on that same thought about the arrows with every new sign I saw. Some had two arrows, but so small you couldn't be sure which way they were pointing until too late. So many wrong turns were made by me this morning because people try to tell so much on a sign and they use colors that don't show up. Just give me an ARROW! I'll know what it means; because I'm looking for it! Great post!

David Berg said...

This is great info. My wife passed this along to me and it sounds like you actually met her at a garage sale they held, today. Would you mind if I shared some of these tips on a blog that I run, here in Browns Point?
I will be sure to give you credit and link back to your site on items, as well. Great site and my wife is following you regularly!!!

Unknown said...

I was sure the Grandpa Died sign was the ticket. lol. Guess not ;) Hilarious however! said...

Hilarious and full of good info! Glad I am not the only one who thinks about going into someone's home alone. My husband tells me (jokingly) that I watch too many Lifetime movies (not really) but you just get that odd feeling!!

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