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Ten Tips for a Successful Moving Sale

Written by Nickel - 11 Comments

Just over a year ago we sold our house and moved from one state to another. As part of this process, we held a huge and rather successful moving sale. What follows is a list of tips that contributed to the success of our sale. The main caveat here is that we generally run our sales with the intention of clearing stuff out, as opposed to maximizing profit.

(1) Separate out anything that’s easily eBay-able. While you can often make quite a bit more money on eBay as compared to selling things at a garage sale, I really like the speed and ease of selling stuff at a garage sale as opposed to using eBay… No pictures to be taken, no description to be written, and no shipping after the item is sold. Not to mention that you don’t have to wait seven (or whatever) days for the auction to end. That being said, there are certain items that are definitely worth separating out for sale on eBay. For example, you can make a killing on eBay with certain types of small electronics.

(2) Advertise, advertise, advertise. We used a combination of a two day newspaper ad and a series of signs that led people off the main street in our area back to our cul de sac. I’m not sure which was more effective, but I’d recommend doing both… We had great traffic, especially considering it was an unseasonably cold day.

(3) Make sure you have plenty of change on hand. There are plenty of people out there who will want to buy a $0.25 trinket with a $20 bill.

(4) Price your stuff to sell. Remember, you’re moving, and there’s a reason that all this stuff wound up in your ’sell pile.’ No sense in holding out for every last penny when the real goal is to clear stuff out. After all, you’re gonna end up hauling all this stuff away when the sale ends.

(5) As much as possible, price things by category. If you’ve got a ton of shoes to sell, consider pricing them all the same, and then group them all together with a sign indicating the price.

(6) Build in bulk discounts. If you’re already pricing things to sell, and pricing them by category, then why not throw in a bulk discount? If you’re selling kids shoes for a dollar a pair, offer six pairs for five dollars. You’d be amazed at how much more quickly your stuff will sell if you put together package deals.

(7) Check any and all pockets before putting an item out for sale. One of the things that we noticed during our sale was that people had a tendency to pick up purses, backpacks, etc. and seemingly check them for hidden treasures. After rifling through them and not finding anything of value, they promptly set them back down. Don’t mistakenly sell a wad of cash, jewelry, or anything else because you simply didn’t know it was there.

(8) Be prepared to negotiate. People love to get a deal, and often times they’ll claim that paying seven cents on the dollar just isn’t cheap enough… They want it for six cents on the dollar. Obviously, dealing down on your prices has it’s limits, but don’t forget that you want to get rid of this stuff.

(9) Get your kids involved. If it’s a hot day, get a cooler full of cold drinks and let your kids sell ‘em for profit. I had grand plans for this but, as noted above, it ended up being an unseasonably cold day, and nobody was interested in a cold drink.

(10) Donate whatever doesn’t sell. While we sold a ton of stuff, we also made a killing by dontaing all the stuff that didn’t sell and taking a tax deduction. In fact, if you’re in a high enough tax bracket, and assuming that you itemize your deductions, you might do just as well (or at least close enough) by donating everything instead of selling it. Just be sure to keep a detailed inventory of what you donate. Then again, having a sale will help you get rid of stuff that would otherwise be hard to haul to a donation center.

Got any ideas of your own? Please feel free to add them in the comments, below.

Published on June 19th, 2007 - 11 Comments
Filed under: Moving

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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11 Responses to “Ten Tips for a Successful Moving Sale”

  1. 1
    Blaine Moore Says:

    We had a tag sale this past weekend. People got great deals; had we been willing to hold onto things for a few weeks and to do multiple tag sales, I could easily have made 3 times as much money as we did. But you know what? Clearing up the floor space was more important and we still got about $100 in our pockets.

    Not only that, but we sold things that weren’t for sale as well. Somebody bought our flag pole, and we got another person to agree to haul away our wood stove next weekend. That frees up 12 square feet of floor space in and of itself!

  2. 2
    Danny at Money Socket Says:

    I’m trying to get rid of all my stuff now as well. I’m moving in a year but its good to get extra cash for things that clutter up the place. I just got $200 for my old original playstation 2 and all accessories. I haven’t used it in about 2 years now.

  3. 3
    Jeff Says:

    Any ideas? No, but I do have a big-screen television, couch, recliner, etc… and I’m moving soon. So, if you’ve got a pickup truck and some cash… :)

    Seriously though, thanks for the tips!

  4. 4
    BillyOceansEleven Says:

    At least for me, I don’t see that garage sales are worth the effort. At the prices people are willing to pay at garage sales, you come out about even just donating the stuff and taking a tax write-off. Then you have the satisfaction of knowing that less of your money is going to the blood-sucking IRS and you’ve given to a worthy cause. Sure beats wasting a whole day to sell your stuff to someone who is only looking to pay 3 cents on the dollar.

  5. 5
    Ted Says:

    The best reason for doing this before you move is you have to pay to move the stuff. Last time I moved, I think I calculated that it cost about $0.50 per pound. So when you sell something at a moving sale, you are indirectly adding that much extra into your pocket.

  6. 6
    Jonathan A. Says:

    I’m still in the middle of my move. Haven’t found a permanent home yet. Great article. While I didn’t get everything I sold or donated, eBay and the garage sale proved to be a great ways of getting rid of unnecessary items.

  7. 7
    Sharon Says:

    I am having people say they will be here,making ads all day long,only one desk left for free. I am trying to sell it all. I have no cash so far for my moving truck. I am leaving the state of Florida for the state of NY. Yeah me..

  8. 8
    Nancy Says:

    I live in an apt complex. I’m moving to a house
    I can’t have a garage sale at my apt complex.
    what to do?

  9. 9
    Rhoda Says:

    I had great success listing my larger furniture items on craigslist. I got my asking price by listing them for 80% of the original purchase price; but that price also gave me room to negotiate when asked (once!).

  10. 10
    Michele Says:

    If you put up a sign advertising that everything will be 50% off for the last hour of the sale, you’ll have a better chance of getting a few more dollars and selling the extra miscellaneous items. Sure, some people might choose to wait to buy anything, but if they see something they really like, they won’t want to take that gamble because it’s first come first buy.

  11. 11
    Heather Clay Says:

    The workers at Lincoln Moving and Storage were so professional and so helpful. The staff anticipated and answered many of my questions, and was extremely helpful. Everything especially my paintings were handled with great care. Thank you. You made a sometimes stressful experience a very easy process. They simplify your moving and storage worries.

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