How to Host a Moving Sale

Three Parts:Gathering Your MerchandiseSelling Your MerchandiseAttracting Customers

Moving into a new place can be an exciting opportunity for change. It's also an opportunity to purge some of the things you have accumulated over the years. Instead of packing and moving things you don't need or want, host a moving sale! Clear out the clutter so you can lighten the load on moving day and make a couple bucks in the process, too.

Part 1
Gathering Your Merchandise

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    Plan ahead. Don’t start rummaging through your closets and crawl spaces the day before you plan to have the sale! As soon as you know you’re going to move, keep your eye out for items you think you’ll want to get rid of. As you go along your daily routine gather these items and set them aside. You’ll have lots of things to worry about as the sale gets closer, so try to make it easier on yourself by being organized in advance.
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    Clean your merchandise. This may even include touching up paint or mending a hole in fabric. No one wants to buy something that looks like it’s been on the floor of your garage for ten years. If you want people to buy your stuff, you have to make sure it’s clean. This can make the difference between getting two dollars for an item and getting ten dollars.[1]
    • If you’re selling clothing, make sure you wash it before you display it. No one will buy your clothes if they smell like someone else’s body odor.
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    Sell moving-sale appropriate items. Most people go to moving sales to find trinkets, used furniture, or new clothing.[2] If you have specialty items that are worth a lot of money, a garage sale may not be the best place to get rid of them. In fact, if the item looks especially expensive, it may even get stolen. Consider selling them on Craigslist or auctioning them off on Ebay.
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    Gather your moving sale tools. The merchandise is the most important, but there are other items that are a close second. First, you need at least one trash can for your customers, especially if you plan on selling drinks or snacks. It’s easier to sell electronics if you have easy access to an electrical outlet; then, customers can make sure your products can turn on before they buy them. Lastly, provide plastic grocery bags for your customers. This allows them to carry items more comfortably and hopefully encourage them to buy more!
    • Using grocery bags can also prevent theft. If you see someone walking away with an un-bagged item, you’ll know they haven’t paid for it. If you see this happen, loudly ask if the person has paid yet. This will usually embarrass the shoplifter and they’ll leave the item where they found it.

Part 2
Selling Your Merchandise

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    Check your local “garage sale” laws. The first step to selling your merchandise is making sure it’s legal to sell. Depending on what region you live in, you may need a permit to host a moving sale. This information can usually be found on your city’s website.[3] If you’re still unsure about the legality of a moving sale in your area, call your local information hotline.
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    Set reasonable prices. Most people come to moving sales looking for great deals. If your item costs more than 1/3 of the retail price, it’s unlikely that anyone will buy it. While deciding what to charge, try to price your items in increments of one dollar.[4] Most people don’t carry around change anymore, so a difference of 25 cents can make or break a sale.
    • Display your prices clearly. People are generally more likely to buy items if they know how much it costs.[5]
    • Consider offering some kind of bargain to your customers. For example, if you have a lot of old books, you can give your customers a discount if they buy more than one.
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    Use a good money management system. You don’t want to go through all the trouble of setting up a garage sale only to have your profits stolen! If you decide to use a cash drawer to store your funds, make sure a trusted friend or relative is next to the drawer at all times. If a cash drawer sounds too risky, consider a money bag that clips around the waist.
    • Have change on hand. Not many people carry around correct change so you want to be well stocked. For example, if you’re selling your items in increments of one dollar, make sure you have a lot of dollar bills.
    • Consider using a credit-card swiping device. These are readily available in many electronics stores and can be linked to your bank account. Don’t miss out on sales just because someone doesn’t have change!

Part 3
Attracting Customers

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    Raise awareness for your moving sale. Make large, weather resistant signs and place them around your neighborhood. However, make sure you get permission before you put it in someone’s yard! The date and time of the moving sale should be clearly listed in large, legible letters. If there’s room, list some of the more popular items you’ll be selling, such as outdoor furniture or baby clothes.
    • Raise awareness using social media to attract the largest possible customer base. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist can be useful when attracting younger people.
    • Conversely, consider taking out an advertisement in your local paper’s classified section. Many older people use the newspaper to find garage sales.
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    Time your moving sale. Most people get paid at the beginning of the month. If you host your moving sale during the first weekend of the month, you’re more likely to sell more stuff. Furthermore, try not to host your sale during a rainy weekend or a holiday. If you do, you might not sell as much as you’d like.
    • Saturdays and Sundays are by far the most popular days for moving sale shoppers. If you need to host it another day, you may not see many customers.
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    Show off your merchandise. Instead of casually dumping items into boxes, try to attractively display your merchandise on tables. Add some flair by putting colorful tablecloths or scarves underneath everything and arrange the items in striking displays. Group the items into reasonable categories so that shoppers don’t have to search around for what they want.[6]
    • If you have a lot of kids toys to sell, consider having a “kids area” on an old carpet. Post a sign saying that kids can “test” the toys while their parents shop. Most of the time, the kids will fall in love with a toy and ask their parents to buy it!
    • Display clothing on clothing racks so it's easier to browse through.
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    Keep your customers happy. If you sell inexpensive bottled water, sodas, and snacks, customers are more likely to linger at your moving sale.[7] If it’s hot, see if you can provide some shade by setting up a canopy. Lastly, play some soft music to create a nice atmosphere.
    • If you’re anticipating a large crowd, ask a trusted friend or family member to run the refreshment booth for you. Otherwise, you may not have time to watch your merchandise and help customers with questions.


  • Promote your sale as a "Moving" sale and not just a "Yard" or "Garage" sale. A "Moving Sale" usually implies that larger items and furniture of quality will be sold and that you aren't just selling junk.
  • Give yourself time to hold two sales if possible. In case of rain or bad weather you can still move the items.
  • If you have furniture, antiques or items that have been in your family you should first open the sale up to family, children, etc. Explain you are moving and it won't fit and give them the first opportunity to keep in within the family.
  • If you don't live in a good yard sale area you can rent a table at a local flea market. Call a week or two ahead.
  • Instead of keeping the stuff that didn't sell call a local charity to come pick it up. Sometimes the tax break will make you even more money than the yard sale.


  • If your sale is outside leave your doors locked at all times. Many burglaries occur while people are tied up with the yard sale.
  • Be on the lookout for shoplifters. These are very common at yard and moving sales.
  • Don't hesitate to call someone out if they haven't paid for something. Chances are they'll pay up or put it down.
  • Don’t hold a yard sale inside your house. This gives potential burglars an opportunity to scope out your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Sign-making tools, such as cardboard and markers
  • Plastic grocery bags for purchases
  • A calculator
  • A cash drawer or money bag

Article Info

Categories: Moving House and Packing | Garage and Yard Sales