The Secrets to a Successful Tag Sale

By Leslie Jacobs

Staff Writer


Customers being shown some of the items of the garage sale.

Customers being shown some of the items of the garage sale.

Did you ever look at photos in magazines and wonder where did the homeowners put all of the books, china, exercise equipment…“the clutter” in the house? Everything might be hidden away in another room, or maybe the homeowners got organized and had a tag sale and now are celebrating being clutter-free.

If you live in a disorderly environment, your emotions can become unfocused and heavy. However, if you take these important steps in three weeks you will be more organized, less cluttered, happier and a little richer. I promise you!

With that in mind, and a lot of clutter to get rid of, I’m having a tag sale in August/September, and wanted you to have one as successful as mine are.


Three weeks before the sale:
Pick a date for your tag sale. Call your friends and family to tell them of the date and to get some needed assistance. Remember, do not have a tag sale over a three day weekend… everyone goes away.

Clean out a designated space to make room for the sale items. Pick a room that will make it easy to bring items outside, the day before the sale (I always go for the garage).

Start amassing your inventory for the sale. Stand in each room in your house and look at every possession your own. What don’t you love? What have you kept because it was a gift, but you no longer want, need or like? Move these items to the designated storage space and do not re-think your choice, or you will never be able to get rid of anything.

You may want to get each family member involved with this process, but if you have a “pack-rat” be careful of the “but I may need it someday” mantra. Someday is today and you won’t need it. Move-on to the next room while imagining your home clutter-free.

What have you not used in the past two years? These are your tag sale items. If you haven’t used it, and don’t love it – sell it!
Begin to price what you have to sell. You will be very surprised on the prices, but a successful tag sale has low price items and high price items. Search the internet for up to the minute pricing on your items.

Items organized and placed outside for a tag sale.

Items organized and placed outside for a tag sale.

Two weeks before the sale:

Call your newspaper for information on placing a tag sale ad. Most newspapers now offer both print and online editions. Also, do an Internet search for other ad placement options. Make your ad enticing with a list of your best items. These items are going to bring in your customers. Make or buy large signs to distribute throughout your neighborhood (be sure to remove them after the tag sale.).

Take photos of the large and heavy items you are selling and tack these to a bulletin board or screen. This is an easy way to show your tag sale clients your inventory without having to move the heavy pieces outdoors. Interested clients can then accompany a friend or family member into the house for a personal viewing. If no one buys these items you can put them on craigslist after the sale.

If you are selling a lot of pierced earrings, attach them to a board or put them in individual plastic bags (you can buy these at any arts and crafts store).

One week before the sale:
Continue collecting items and asking your friends to help or buy a table at the sale. Confirm your ad will be in the newspaper.
Go to an office supply store and pick up price tags or design them on your computer. It makes a tag sale look more professional and you do not have to be asked a hundred times, “How much is this?”
With all of your items for the tag sale in one place, you will have to price them. If you do not want to do individual prices for each item, then have tables for 1, 5, 10 dollars and even one table for .50 or 25. Cents. People will want to negotiate for the lowest possible price. Familiarize yourself with the market through on line auctions such as eBay.

The Week of:

A clean item is worth more than the dirty one, so clean, clean, and clean. Wash the glasses, polish the silver and dust the pocketbooks. Never skip this step. If you have an original box for anything you are selling, use it.
Group all of your like items together. If you are like me, you have amassed quite a few exercise videos and equipment. I use my exercise equipment everyday, they make sure my clothes are not on the floor. Give yourself a break and sell what you don’t use, and invest in a good pair of sneakers for walking — they take up less space.

A potential customer looking over tag sale items.

A potential customer looking over tag sale items.

The Day Before:

Arrange tables in an attractive display which will promote easy circulation for your customers. Use tablecloths or sheets to make your tables look neat and tidy.

Park your cars off your street to allow more parking for your customers.

Your customers are the most important people of the day, so get them to browse and buy. Hire a babysitter for your young children (under 8) and hire the older ones to help you. Have them make a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to charity. Have one person in charge of the money, including the cash box, another person to run errands, such as bringing customers to see the furniture and a third to help load the items into the customers’ car.

The Day Of:

Wake up at least two hours before the sale. Remember there will be early birds, even if you say on the ad, no early birds. Make the coffee and tea (eat something too) for the crowd and welcome your friends who are there to help you. Enjoy the day and donate what you do not sell.

Remember, to be flexible, you want to make money but you also want to get rid of everything. Have Fun!

Leslie Jacobs is a professional organizer, and tag sale expert. If you have any questions or are interested in her services she can be reached via email at or