Advertising your sale

Advertising can make or break your sale.  If people don’t know about your sale, then they won’t come to it.  The “size” of your sale should determine how much you spend on advertising.  With the advent of the internet, there are more free options for advertising your sale.  Advertising for a garage sale will consist of three components: signage, print ads and online ads.


Signs are very important  in pulling in casual traffic where people are just driving by the area. They are also good in directing people to your sale if they had learned about it through some other means and are able to get themselves to the general area.  Signs are not necessary if you are participating in a community or public sale.

The more signs you have the better.  More signs mean more people see them.   Signs should entice people to go off their beaten path to visit your sale.  Sometimes your local grocery store or church will let you place an ad on their bulletin board.

Key requirements for your signs:

  • Signs should be big and bright, catching people’s attention. I generally use large neon poster’s for my signs.
  • Lettering on signs should be big and clear to be read from a distance.  I’ve seen lot of garage sale signs over the years where people wrote the information only big enough to read if you were standing in front of it.  Keep in mind that people will be driving by quickly and will need to pick up the key pieces of info at a glance.
  • Weatherproof your sign if at all possible.  Years ago I gave my girlfriend Andrea the task of doing the signs since she was going to be in the sale with me.  I gave her some suggestions and she made the best signs.  She backed the signs with some posterboard so they were sturdy when attached to a pole and she wrapped them all in a clear plastic. I still have those signs 8 years later and I haven’t had to reinvest in new signs since.  If your signs are impervious to the weather they will hold up throughout the sale.
  • There is key information that should be on any signs: address, day and time of the sale.  My signs never include the date since I reuse my signs.  Keep this in mind when making your signs.
  • If at all possible, include arrows on your signs to assist people in finding your sale.  This way if they don’t catch the address they can find the sale by following the arrows.  Arrows should be removable if you intend to reuse your signs.  This way you can place any sign in any location and just change the direction of the arrow.
  • Keep signs simple for quicker, easier comprehension.
  • Place your signs at major intersections as well as entries to your housing development if you live in one.  I would recommend placing signs within a 2 mile radius of your location, but this depends upon where you live.
  • After the sale, don’t forget to remove your sale signs so the next person can post theirs.  Many municipalities have rules against putting up signs on sign posts and telephone poles but will look the other way as long as people are conscientious about taking their signs down promptly.

For more great tips on creating signs see:

Print Ads

Print ads can bring in a lot of people but they can be quite expensive.  The last time I priced an ad with the city paper in my town, they wanted $40+ and that was a few years ago.  If I only brought  in about $200-300, then $40 would take a big cut out of any profits.  Consider pricing ads in one of the smaller papers or advertising papers in town.  Call around to find out what ads will cost in the paper.  I believe that print ads are optional, especially if you will be having a “small” sale.

The benefit of print ads are they reach people who aren’t online.  In order to limit your costs,  minimize the number of words in your listing as most papers charge per word or per line.  Focus on including key information: your location, the time of your sale.  List higher price items or items that collectors might be looking for.  In recent years, I have only placed a print ad in a small paper that cost less than $20.  I usually ask my friends who are in on the sale to share some of the cost of the ad with me, making it cheaper for all.

Papers to consider in the Rochester, NY area (see links to all sites here):

  • Democrat and Chronicle
  • Shopping Bag
  • Suburban News
  • Messenger Post papers
  • Genesee Valley Pennysaver
  • Others?

Online Ads

The benefit of online ads are that they are usually free and you have unlimited words.  In some cases you may also be able to include pictures. Take advantage of as many online ads as you can as they won’t cost you and you can copy the text of your ad from one location to another.

The more information you include in your ad the better.  List as many items  as you can.  The more items you list the better chance you will catch the interest of someone.  As necessary add details on the items.  Instead of saying “Girls clothes”, say “Girls clothes in sizes 6-12, including brand names like Limited Too, Old Navy and Gap.”  This is your chance to get creative and entice people to come to your sale.  In your ad, say that you will accept questions so people can find out more information about items you’ve listed.  In some cases, people may be so interested in an item that they may ask you to hold it for them.

Another thing to include in your online ad is a link to an online map of where your sale is located.  This will make it easy for people to figure out where they are and they won’t have to go to MapQuest or Google maps to find it.   For example, if I was holding my sale at the Rochester Public Market, I might include the following link:

Before advertising on any of these sites, see if there are other people advertising in your local area.  If there are not many (or any) then you can probably skip it as people in your area are probably not aware of it yet.

National places to advertise garage sales:

Rochester, NY places to advertise garage sales (see links to all sites here):

  • ESL Swapsheet
  • Warm 101.3 Events Calendar

Do people know of other places to advertise your garage sale?


5 thoughts on “Advertising your sale

  1. Pingback: Getting started – garage sale season « How to maximize money for your stuff

  2. Pingback: Selling your Sale « How to maximize money for your stuff

  3. Pingback: Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs « How to maximize money for your stuff

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