Help! How do I Price the Items I Want to Sell at My Garage Sale?

Making Sure The Price Is Right.

During the warmer months, I often sell items at a flea market near my home, and, I’ve also sold things from my home as well. Usually, I do this once I gather enough things I no longer want, to make renting a space profitable. Being a casual seller, I usually have all kinds of different items, rather than just one or two kinds. Along the way, through talking with other sellers, reading articles on the internet, and through my own experience selling items, I’ve learned a few things.

1. Trying to sell large ticket items can be tough to do.

I once sold a stereo system at a flea market. It wasn’t a high-end system, but still high enough in price that it took awhile and many “lookers” before I sold it. When selling big-ticket items, you run into several problems.

One is that most people in general don’t carry much cash, and most sellers at flea markets and garage sales can’t take  credit cards, so, people who may be interested will tell you that they don’t have the money on them and so they don’t buy the item. Then, if the item is very large, they may not be ready to handle or transport the item if they were to buy it.

And, many people who go to flea markets and garage sales are often not looking to spend a lot of money and are looking mainly for low-cost items, usually for less than $20. While selling higher priced items can certainly be done, it is tough to do so, and you’ll have better luck selling items that can be priced for $20 or less, and especially $10 or less. So, it’s a good idea to have many lower priced items on display in addition to your big-ticket item.

2. Never, never hold an item!

Never do this! If someone comes along and asks you to hold an item for them, because they don’t have the money now but can quickly run home to get the money , or for some other reason with a promise to come back and actually buy the item, don’t hold the item! Just don’t! If a second person comes and wants to buy the item right then and there, especially if they want to give you your asking price, sell it to them! Don’t hold it for that first person who promised to come back and hasn’t yet!

The first time I sold items at a flea market, someone did promise me they’d come back to buy the item, they just had to get the money, which their spouse was holding. So, I agreed and turned down two other offers to buy the item. Well, the person never came back! Lesson learned.

Since then, I’ve had people ask me numerous times to hold items and I’ve turned them all down. And many others simply told me they’d come back to buy items, easily more than 20 times since, and growing! Well, out of all those who swore they’d come back only one person did come back to buy the item she said she’d buy from me. Luckily, no one else had come to buy the item, so she was able to buy it from me. I even gave her a discount and told her why.

It’s my belief that, within  10 seconds of someone swearing to you that they will come back to buy your item if you would please, please, just hold it for them, they will have forgotten that you or the item even exists!

Also, should they pay you right then and there for the item, have them take it with them, don’t hold it! They will forget the item and you may feel like you have to find them to give them their item, or worse, they’ll come back some other time and want their money back! So, if they buy it, it’s theirs! Have them take the item with them. It’s their responsibility!

3. Accept the fact that your items are no longer worth what you paid for them in most cases.

You may feel that the small wooden chest or that great radio that you’re selling is as good as new and worth the money you paid for them. But to a shopper, these are still used items! After all, if you are buying a used car, no matter how good that car looked and ran, you probably would still balk at paying the same price you would have paid had you bought it new, wouldn’t you? I know I would! So, you shouldn’t expect other shoppers to think differently, nor to have or understand the sentiment you may have regarding your items.

4. Note the condition of your item and compare what the same item is being sold for.

Know the condition of your items. The better the item’s condition, the higher price you can charge. Also, if the item is part of a set, the more complete the set, the higher price you can charge.

It’s also important to do research if possible. Checking sites like Ebay, Amazon, and Craigslist, you may see what prices are being asked for the item and in what condition. Also, see if other sellers at the flea market or at other garage sales are selling it for  if they have the same or similar items.

5. Try to sell complete items if possible.

Related to #4 above, try to sell items with all of their components and any manuals if possible. If you’ve ever bought something used that is without  some component or the manual, especially like that dish set that just looks incomplete without the serving tray, or that electronic gizmo that you’ve found you really can’t figure out without the manual, then you know what I mean.

So, do try to find those manuals and components! You’ll be able to get more money for your items.

6. Be prepared to haggle and negotiate!

Sometimes shoppers will simply pay the marked price for your item. But oftentimes, they will suggest a lower price. While you should never accept a ridiculously low-ball offer, you should also not be too rigid. Best thing is to have a range or lowest price you would accept for each item and, when presented with an offer below the marked price, don’t drop down to your lowest accepted price too fast! And, if you’re having a particularly rough time trying to sell an item, be prepared to give your lowest acceptable price some leeway downward. Not a lot, but some.

Also, especially for higher priced items, have prices marked with your price, plus “OBO”, which stands for “Or Best Offer”. This tells people, that you’re willing to negotiate, and those who would automatically balk at your marked price and walk away, may yet make a still reasonable offer for that item that you’ve been trying to sell for a long time.

When I sold the stereo system, I had it priced as “$70 OBO”. Seeing that it was hard to sell, I would tell prospective buyers that I’d come down to $60 or even $50, which was my lowest price. Finally, a couple showed much interest, then said they’d think about it after I told them $50 was my lowest limit.  By the way, $50 was the limit I set after a pawn shop had offered me $30 for the stereo. I’d declined that offer, feeling I should give selling it myself at the flea market a really good try first.

The couple came back and offered me $45. I thought about it, seeing that no one else had come back to buy the stereo, even at $50, and with one of my really low-priced items thrown in, the $45 offer was only $5 below my lowest limit, I accepted the $45 offer and sold the stereo.

So, don’t be too rigid in your pricing and know how low you should go, do your research, and see and hear what potential buyers are offering, and you’ll more likely get a decent deal.


This cannot be emphasized enough! Be Honest! If that radio you’re selling is missing a small antenna, so that it’s reception is even more dependent on how the radio is placed, tell the buyer before he or she buys it! Same if that game is missing a game piece, or that power drill quits more than it should, or if the alarm on that clock radio doesn’t work! This is just the honorable way to do things, period!

Even if you don’t care about your honor, think of this: if you’re a casual seller and think a customer won’t see you again, they could still tell others about being given a raw deal and they could remember what you look like and what you’re selling, and, if word gets out, your selling days could be over, and rightfully so!

Being honest can pay off, as well. I was selling a CD/DVD writer that had come from a computer that went bad on me. The CD/DVD writer was still good and could be installed into another computer and would work. I was selling it for $7. A man showed interest and I told him all about the item, and its history, but, since the CD/DVD writer couldn’t be tested there, he was only willing to give me $5 for it. So, I accepted the offer.

The following week, when I was again selling at the flea market, he showed up with $2 extra that he gave me, and told me that the item worked like I said it would, so because I was so honest with him, he was willing to pay me the full price I’d been asking! So, Honesty does pay!

I don’t know everything about selling at flea markets and garage sales, and I do learn more each time. But I do hope that these tips will help your next selling experience to be more profitable.

If you like what you’ve read, please comment and let others know of this site!

Good luck, and thanks for reading! 🙂

One thought on “Help! How do I Price the Items I Want to Sell at My Garage Sale?

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