rummage sale

5 Tips For A Successful Rummage Sale


Are you looking to have a successful rummage sale? If so, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success. Keep reading to read our rummage sale tips, so you can make sure that your rummage sale is a success!

What is a Rummage Sale?

A rummage sale (also called a garage sale, yard sale, tag sale, or estate sale) is a type of sale where people sell used items that are no longer needed or wanted by the original owner. This items are usually sold at a deep discount. People hold rummage sales when downsizing or just trying to clear clutter in their homes.

Rummage sales may be held to raise money for a charity or cause, such as a church or school group. In this case, several individuals will donate their items with all the proceeds doing to the cause or charity. 

Successful Rummage Sale Tips

Below are tips for having a successful rummage sale. The tips include advertising your rummage sale in advance, pricing items carefully, and having a good selection of items for sale.

1. Pricing

Make sure that everything at your rummage sale is marked with a price as most people will skip over something that is not marked. You can use prepriced garage sale stickers or even write prices on masking tape.

You need to price your items carefully. If everything is too expensive, people will be less likely to buy anything. On the other hand, if everything is priced too low, you won’t make as much money as you could. It is important to strike a balance when pricing your items.

I recommend using a pricing system that prices everything in increments of 25¢. This makes it easier to add up when checking a person out as there should be no need for a calculator. Plus you don’t have to worry about having pennies, nickels and dimes to worry about. 

If you have multiple people bringing stuff to your rummage sale, also include the seller’s initials or use a certain color label for each person to keep track of sales. Then at checkout, have a piece of paper for each seller to attach the labels to so you can add them up at the end of the sale. 

Be sure to have some “starter money” available so you can make change. If you are manning the rummage sale by yourself, I do not recommend using a money box (or a tackle box that we used to use for money) as someone could easily walk off it with if another customer distracts you with a question. 

In this case, a fanny pack works perfect so that the money is with you at all time. I personally use the Menards tool aprons that were free after rebate years ago. 

Be sure to subtract the amount of your starter money from the final total at the end of the sale to get a true total of how much money you made from your rummage sale.  

2. Advertise

It is important to advertise your rummage sale in advance. This will give people time to mark the date in their calendars and make sure they can attend. You can advertise your rummage sale online, in local newspapers, or by posting flyers around town.

If you have more than one person bringing items, be sure to advertise your rummage sale as “Multi-Family” as customers will think there is more of a variety of items available that way (and there usually is).  

In your advertisement, be sure to mention any popular name brands that will be available as well if anything is antique. Also include if you have a lot of a specific size of clothing, i.e. Large Maternity Clothes or Twin Boys Outfits Newborn-2T.

The best luck I’ve had promoting a rummage sale is by creating a Facebook event and inviting all of my Facebook friends. And this is free to do! You can also post in local Facebook group exchanges. Search for groups for your city or county and or specific rummage sale groups to post about your sale. Be sure to include photos, the date, time and address. 

You can even “boost” your Facebook event or post for a few dollars to reach more people in your area. I’ve found this is way more effective that advertising in your local newspaper and way cheaper than advertising on the radio.

If you did pay for any advertising, you will also need to deduct this amount from your final total at the end of the sale to get a true total of how much money you made from your rummage sale. 

3. Sell Refreshments

If the weather is hot out, sell botted water and ice cold soda. And if the weather is cold out, sell hot cocoa and/or coffee. This may not generate a big return on your investment, but it will keep your customers there longer if they are more comfortable.

Offering “bake sale” items is also a big draw. I’ve found Monster Cookies and Rice Krispies treats sell the best. Wrap them up individually with plastic wrap so the customer can see how good they look!

Having children there doing the selling via a “lemonade stand” makes it even more enticing as people have a hard time resisting cute kids. Plus the experience help teach the kids about counting money and customer service skills. 

4. Accommodate

Have an electrical power strip available (use an extension cord if needed) so customers can test out electronic items. Most will want to confirm that the item works before buying it. If selling a lamp, make sure it has a working light bulb in it and plug it in and turn it on so the customer can see immediately that it does indeed work. The same applies to pre-lit Christmas trees. 

Some people may want to try clothing on to see if it fits before buying. If you know and trust the person, you can let them in your house to use your bathroom or bedroom. Some people have set up canopy tents with sides in their garage for people to use as a dressing room (be sure to include a mirror and possibly a chair and light if it’s dark inside).

Hopefully though you have your items priced reasonably that they feel that they don’t need to try on the clothes. Or they can try on over their existing clothes or hold them up and guesstimate. 

5. Keep It Legal

Some cities may require you to get a permit to have a rummage sale. Permits may also be required if you live in a community governed by an HOA (homeowner’s association). So, it may be a good idea to check with your HOA and/or city office beforehand to see if a permit is required.

You should also hang up a sign saying that you are “Not Responsible For Accidents” as if someone slips and falls at your sale, you do not want to be sued for their injuries.

Rummage Sale FAQs

Get all the answers you need about rummage sales with this comprehensive list of frequently asked questions.

What is the difference between a rummage sale and a yard sale?

A rummage sale is a type of yard sale where items are sold at discounted prices. The items may include a mix of new and used goods; often, the items are donated by members of the community or collected from households. On the other hand, a yard sale refers to an outdoor event where individuals sell used items from their homes. Yard sales usually involve fewer items than a rummage sale and feature mostly second-hand or pre-owned merchandise.

What is a church rummage sale?

A church rummage sale is a type of sale organized by a religious group or organization. It usually consists of donated items from members in the community, with all proceeds going towards charitable causes. The items are typically sold at discounted prices and can include a variety of new and used goods.

What is the best day for a rummage sale?

Saturday is typically the best day to hold a rummage sale, as it attracts more foot traffic due to shoppers being off work. But I’ve personally had good luck on Thursdays late afternoons and evening and all day Fridays. 

Why is it called a rummage sale?

It’s believed that “rummage sale” originated from the phrase “to rummage through”, which means to search thoroughly. This reflects the way items are usually arranged and displayed at a rummage sale, as shoppers must often look through multiple items to find what they are looking for.

How much cash should I have on hand for a rummage sale?

It is recommended to have at least $50 in cash on hand for a rummage sale. It is also helpful to have small bills available, such as $1 and $5 denominations as well as change. If you stick to marking your items in quarter increments, you do not need dimes, nickels or pennies. 

What is a rummage sale called in England?

A rummage sale in England is known as a jumble sale.

What is a rummage sale called in Australia?

A rummage sale in Australia is known as a garage sale, junk sale, or moving sale.


By following these tips, you can make sure that your rummage sale is a success! With a little planning and effort, you can make some extra money and clear out some clutter at the same time. Good luck!

Kim Rowley Lohrberg

5 Tips For A Successful Rummage Sale

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *