The garage sale doesn’t have to be the butt end of consumerism. Here are 12 ways to transform your clutter into cash.

1. Arrange the “Garage Gamble.”

There’s a sucker born every minute, and three or four of them are probably browsing your merchandise. Reel them in with a raffle or lottery. For every $5 they spend, they receive one ticket toward your solid oak grandfather clock.

2. Mimic Black Friday.

Last year, Americans spent $13 billion the day after Thanksgiving. Anticipation, not discounts, made the difference. String caution tape around the exhibits and let the early birds drool while waiting for the sale to open.

3. Enlist a Mascot.

Remember the Little Caesar’s dancing pizza mascot? Why not create your own Garage Sale Gorilla or Yard Sale Yellow-Billed Hornbill?

4. Hire a Bodyguard.

football player

Lisa Brandt of Prescott Valley, AZ, lost $24.75 to a buyer who paid 25 cents for 1950s-era head vase and lit out like an Alcatraz escapee. Bicycles, books and boots are a burglar’s bonanza. So hire a local football player to put the fear of God (and you) into nefarious shoppers.

5. Team Up.

Two is better than one. Combine advertisements and social media invites with a neighboring seller.

Looking for more advice on hosting a kick-butt garage sale? Read this:

6. Put a Price Nothing.

Instead of spending 12 hours and three Tylenol pills labeling items, don’t price anything! Negotiate. One lucky woman had intended to price her dining set at $150. A shopper offered her $400. Flabbergasted, she whittled him down to $300.

7. Set Out a Full-Length Mirror.

Want to sell slacks? Jewelry? Surfboards? Put an item in someone’s hands, let her see herself and accept her inevitable payment.

8. Play the Pied Piper.

pied piper

You don’t want children tugging on Mom whining, “Can we go now?” You want them screaming delightedly in a rented bounce house, drawing pictures on a primed 4×8 slab of sheetrock, shooting hoops or watching a puppet show. Ask a friend for backup child care. You’ll need it—83 percent of garage sale attendees bring kids, and 94 percent buy things for their kids.

9. Arrange Items in Thematic Displays.

The average price of a garage sale item is 85 cents. Here’s how to extract more. Showcase items in their best light and in sets. Sell grandmother’s china dinnerware in its cabinet. Sell a VHS entertainment system, a pet lover’s set, an athlete’s first aid kit or an emergency car kit.

10. Clean in Bulk.

Twenty percent of garage sale shoppers report that dirty items turn them off. Channel your inner Cinderella. Wash sports equipment with garden hoses. Clean electronic devices using pressurized air canisters. Soak rusty tools in Coca-Cola.

11. Highlight Desirable Items.

The trick to garage sale attendance is curb appeal. The top three most popular items at yard sales are tools, collectibles and sports equipment, so showcase those items on red carpets.

12. Smile.

Cliché? Perhaps. But nothing discourages shoppers more than a clothesline of dirty shirts, a handful of people picking through rubble and a thin-lipped seller trimming his fingernails. So wave to passers-by. Play music. Sell cookies. And make money!

Tim Smith is a writer for For home remodeling ideas and design inspiration, visit