Best Garage Sale Signs [What to Write + Where to Put it]

First, place your garage sale signs safely, carefully and legally

  • Most cities, counties, towns, villages, councils, shires, etc have laws that prohibit posting garage sale signs. Most of the time, the authorities have more important things to do than to track down sign posters especially if you take them all down as soon as you sale is over, however, if your garage sale sign is causing an obvious safety hazard you may get a visit by the police and get an expensive fine.
  • Check if you need a permit for your garage sale signs.
  • Check the size limit of garage sale signs.
  • Check on the number of garage sale signs you can put up.
  • Check where you can and can’t put your garage sale signs.
  • Check what you can and can’t put on your signs.
  • Check if you can attach balloons to your signs.
  • Check when you can put your garage sale signs up and when you have to take your signs down.
  • Don’t place your signs over safety signs, on roundabouts or at intersections where they will distract the attention of drivers.
  • Also, if you don’t take your signs down promptly after your garage sale, you may get fined for littering.

How do you attract people to a garage sale?

You will need street signs on every main street entry to your house within a mile (or 2 kilometres). Draw a rough map of your area to plan where your garage sale signs will need to go. Don’t forget to cater for traffic going in both directions. This will usually require separate signs on each side of the road.

Your sign map will help you work out how many garage sale signs you will need and what direction the arrows need to be. Your sign map can also be used by your helpers in the morning to set up the signs for you and to take them ALL down at the end of your garage sale.

Below are some suggested locations for your signs at intersections.

garage sale sign placement
where to put garage sale sign

Place your garage sale signs so drivers have time to turn

Place signs more than 30 yards/metres (or more depending on the speed limit) before the intersection so people can slow down and/or change lanes to safely turn. Place your arrow signs about 10 meters/yards from a corner. You can place your arrow signs right on the corner only if there is plenty of visibility leading up to the corner and there is no chance that a car will be parked before it blocking the view of people trying to find your sign.

You will need an “arrow” direction sign at EVERY corner

You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find your garage sale. Even if you have included the street name on your main street sign, people may not be bothered to come if they have to dig out their street directory to find you.

What to do on long streets?

If you have a long street, people will start wondering if they have gone past a corner sign after a few minutes. If this is likely, try one of these tips:

  • Tie a blue ribbon around a signpost, street light or street-side tree every block so people know they are still on the right track. Your sign at the beginning of the street would also say, for example, “Follow the blue ribbons”.
  • Put up a sign “2 miles to go” then another “1 mile to go”.

Make sure all you garage sale signs look similar

Customers will then know they are following your signs to your garage sale. Use the same colored background, lettering, decorations, etc.

A sneaky sign trick to really pull in the crowds

Place 3 or 4 different types of garage sale signs at an intersection. Drivers will think there are 3 or 4 different garage sales down that road!!

Now that would be worth turning down to have a quick look and they will only see your signs directing them to your sale.

How do you make sturdy garage sale signs?

Signs should be stiff and sturdy so they don’t fold down in the slightest breeze. Some ideas for sign material are:

  • Corrugated plastic from your sign store can be used for self-supporting signs where stiff wire rods are pushed down between the corrugated flutes and into the ground.
  • 20″ x 30″ thick poster board
  • Drywall (or gypsum board, wallboard, plasterboard) is excellent for street signs. It is cheap, weather-proof (short term) and easy to cut into any shape but needs to be secured or weighed down to stop it blowing away. A robust tent design can be easily taped together and a couple of bricks on the base for stability. Below are two examples.     
  • Some people have invested in durable A-framed signs made from metal and wood. It can be as simple as two sheets or plywood hinged at the top and cord tied between the two panels. These signs can then be stored away for re-use later when you have another garage sale or borrowed by neighbors, friends or relatives when they have their garage sales.
  • A common method for temporary garage sale signs is to stick the paper sign on the side of a large cardboard box and put a brick in the bottom of the box to stop it blowing over or away! Boxes also work great at an intersection where cars are coming from 3 directions, you can stick signs on 3 sides of the box! Suitably sized cardboard boxes can usually be obtained for free from your local supermarket.
building cardboard garage sale sign
catchy garage sale cardboard sign design

Garage sale signs should be readable and attention-getting

Cars will be passing your sign at 35 mph (60 kph). Look at the road-side signs and notice the size of the sign and the lettering. Note how small the lettering can be before it is unreadable from a car travelling at speed.

  • Your garage sale signs should be readable from at least 10 – 15 yards/metres away.
  • Signs should be at least 11″ x 17″ and larger is better depending on what restrictions your local authorities have.
  • Lettering should be at least ½” thick and 3” – 5″ high. If you’re using a word processor to make your garage sale signs then use a 500 point size font for the main “GARAGE SALE” title to get 2 letters per page. You can then print the pages and either stick the pages together for your garage sale sign or cut the letters out to use as stencils to trace around when painting your signs.
  • Use a thick felt-tipped pen or crayons to fill-in or color in large wide letters or use bright poster paint in a contrasting color to your background.
  • The background should be neon pink or fluorescent green because most official street signage aren’t in these colors. This will help your garage sale sign stand out.
  • Don’t clutter you sign with fancy lettering, pictures or listing items for sale. This will just make it harder for motorists to read as they drive past.
  • Attention-getters for your main street signs and corner signs could be streamers, balloons, ribbons, flags, etc. Anything that’s colorful and moves in the wind. Balloons only last a day or two so these will tell shoppers that your garage sale is on NOW and that your sign isn’t still there from last week.
  • Great attention-getters I use are foil pinwheels from the local discount store or make your own. They move easily in the slightest breeze and flash when they catch the sun. You will need at least one for each sign (2 or 3 is better) and tape them securely to your signs so they are less likely to be souvenired by passing children. Go to http://www.pinwheelsforpeace.com/ for instructions on making pinwheels and ideas on how else you can use them.

Use Google’s image search for garage sale sign design ideas

Search for “garage sale sign”, “yard sale sign”, “tag sale sign”, etc.

catchy garage sale sign example
garage sale sign with doll

Gain attention by making your garage sale sign like a life-size cutout of a person holding your sign

These always get attention when tied securely to a street pole. Include a balloon or two for some extra attention-getting decorations. Use clipart for ideas. Here are some examples:

person holding garage sale sign
face garage sale sign
character holding garage sale sign
catchy yard sale sign
family garage sale sign

On your main street signs:

Info for yard sale
  • Have the words GARAGE SALE or YARD SALE and an arrow pointing in the appropriate direction.
  • Include your street name and the day & time of your garage sale.
  • If you are using identifiable, attention-getting decorations, your main yard sale signs should also have the word “Follow the balloons”, or “Follow the yellow ribbons” or “Follow the pink signs”.
  • Some people say to include your cell/mobile phone number on the main signs so people can ring you for directions or to check if it is worth coming but you will probably find yourself too busy to answer the phone and this could be a security risk.
  • Use abbreviations (SATSUN, etc.) for the day(s).
  • Use 8am4pm, etc. for the times.
  • For multi-day yard sales, say SAT – SUN 8am – 4pm
  • If you’re having a late ‘lunch time’ start for your yard sale, make sure you highlight that so people don’t think that they’ll just get left-overs if they come in the afternoon.

Advertising in a multi-cultural neighborhood

If you are in a multi-cultural neighborhood then consider including non-english signs too.

Secure your specially made bought yard sale signs

If you buy specially made yard sale signs there’s a good chance they will be stolen by the end of the day unless you can secure them to a street sign, power pole or lamp post.

Try to prevent people removing your yard sale signs

Write on the bottom of your sign in small letters something like, “This sign will be removed on or before the evening of (insert the last day of your yard sale)”. This may appease the authorities and also the owner of the property that you have placed your sign in front of.

Never staple or hammer signs to trees or street poles

Never attach a sign to a public street pole as this is against the law in most states. Nails or staples can damage safety equipment such as gloves and harnesses not to mention hands, arms and legs.

Car signs

  • Consider making a BIG yard sale sign for the front and back windows of your car and then park your car out the front of your house or across the other side of the street if your neighbor doesn’t mind. People can then see where the yard sale is from down the end of your street. Having a car out the front also makes the street less deserted. People might think that if there aren’t any cars then it can’t be a very good yard sale.
  • Stick it to the man! Car signs are good when you aren’t allowed to put up signs on the street. Park you car, legally, on the main street and include your address and directions on the sign. If you are able to borrow more than one car then park these strategically at other main intersections.

Gain the attention of people who may not drive past your yard sale signs on the day

  • Leave up a “Garage Sale on Saturday” sign during the week or put up a “Garage Sale Tomorrow” sign on the day before on main roads to gain the attention of people driving by who may not necessarily drive past on the day. Check with your local authorities if this is allowed.
  • Try the ol’ “Burma-Shave” technique (Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma-Shave for more information). Make 3 – 5 small signs each with one line of an amusing limerick or verse about your up-coming garage sale and place them along a busy road about 200 yards apart so drivers have time to read each sign as they drive past. Check with your local authorities if this is allowed.

When to put out your street signs on the morning?

Put out your street signs only AFTER you have all your items out on the morning of your yard sale and you are ready to go. If you put the signs out before you are set up, you won’t be ready for the early birds and opening rush.

A tip for when putting your yard sale signs out the night before

If you want to spend time setting up your yard sale signs the night before your yard sale but don’t want to include your address on the signs to stop early birds finding your house – just leave a space on the sign for the address and have your address written or printed on suitably sized pieces of paper. Then in the morning while you check your signs, you just need to go around and tape the address on each sign.

Check your yard sale signs during the day

Have a helper check your signs during the day. They may have blown over or been removed or replaced by someone else’s garage sale signs.

Don’t do this

I have read some people suggesting “You can even employ your children to walk up and down a main thoroughfare advertising the event, carrying a placard much as they would for a political candidate or if they were on strike. The more noticeable the advertisement, the more likely you’ll draw the curious.”

It’s not worth the risk and your kids are more useful at the sale helping you and learning how to interact with adults in a supervised setting.

What signs to place in and around your items

  • Make large signs to go on large items (like furniture, mowers, washing machines, etc) listing the selling points, features, history, condition, price, etc. This will save answering a lot of the same questions all day.
  • Make table signs to advertise items that may be overlooked, for example, “Hand-made candles $1 each” or “Chanel Perfume – unopened – $5”.
  • Make signs to pin on linen & clothes detailing the size, material/fabric, condition, etc. Not only will this save you being asked the same questions, it will save buyers from trying to find the tags themselves and messing up your nicely arranged display.
  • Make table signs describing the selling points for items on the table. These signs can either lie flat on the table or be folded in half to create a tent sign (as shown below).
  • If it going to be a windy day, either tape or pin your signs to the table or make a tent sign as shown below and suitable weight inside to hold it down.
  • Help customers find the things they are looking for by making Section signs and keep like items together in ‘departments’. This is explained more in Best garage sale layout tips. Sections could be:Baby
    Kids’ Clothes
    Kids’ Toys
    Men’s Clothes
    Women’s Clothes
    Bathroom
    Kitchen
    Bedroom
    Books
    Movies / Videos
    Music
    Car
    Hardware
    Computer
    Garden
    Pet Stuff
    Sporting
    Tools
    Free Stuff
  • Make table signs that do the selling for you with “subliminal” messages. For example:
    “Why not, it’s only $1”
    “Keep the kids occupied with these”
    “These will go quickly”
    “The kids will love it”
    “These will keep the kids occupied for hours”
    “You can’t buy these any cheaper”
    “Think of how much you are saving”
    “All prices are negotiable”
    “These will make a great Christmas present”
    “Everything has to go”
    “These won’t be available tomorrow”
    “Go on, what have you got to lose?”
    “These solid picture frames can be painted or stained to create new looks”
    “Re-upholster a chair or make pillows with these (curtains, scarves, sheets or bedspreads)”
    “Get a discount with bulk purchases”
  • Have SOLD signs ready to put on large items that get sold but the customer needs to come back with a trailer to pick it up later in the day. Maybe include space to write:These details would need to be included in a written receipt too.
  • Place OFF LIMITS signs in doorways, gates, paths. etc so customers know where they shouldn’t go looking for more treasures.
  • Make NOT FOR SALE signs to go on objects that are in the garage or yard that people may think are for sale. This also applies to objects used to display your goods, such as tables, clothes racks, chairs you will be sitting on, pets and the children (well, let me think about that last one).
  • If you have decided not to accept checks, have a sign CASH ONLY.
  • NO RESTROOM AVAILABLE may prevent you having to refuse a request.
  • To protect yourself in case a customer comes back later wanting their money back make big signs that will be positioned prominently that say:

    ALL SALES
    ARE FINALALL ITEMS
    SOLD AS ISNO REFUNDS
    WILL BE GIVEN
    And of course…NOT RESPONSIBLE
    FOR ACCIDENTS
  • Put signs in plastic sleeves to keep them dry, sleeves are stiffer and won’t blow around, won’t tear way from the pins holding them up, keeps your signs re-useable and the sign inside can be easily swapped (eg from “50% off” to “Name your Price!” .
  • If you needed to get a permit for your garage sale, place it in a plastic sleeve and pin it up in your garage in case the authorities pay you a visit.
  • Name badges for people working at your garage sale will help shoppers know who to approach and it also make them feel more comfortable speaking with you. Alternatively, just a plain badge, like a gold star, will help shoppers know who to approach with any questions.
tent sign for garage sale
building cardboard garage sale sign

Place some large items in the front yard

Put out anything that can be seen from the street that you know will attract shoppers like bees to honey. Include these items in your garage sale ads & flyers. Items like a lawn mower, large electronics, exercise equipment, power tools, wood or building supplies. What about a book case full of books. Go to a second-hand book store and buy a load of books (at a bulk price) to fill the book case. You are sure to make up the cost with the extra sales you make.

Give men something to do

Someone borrowed their friend’s classic car and parked it on the front lawn to give the men something to look at while the ‘women went shopping’. Often the men sent their wives back in to look some more while they chatted a bit more about the car.

Set up a small table at the front just with “men’s stuff”

This could be jars of screws, nuts, bolts, washers, handy man tools, paint brushes, books, electronics, etc. This will give them something to look through while the women shop. It may be worth your while to buy cheap hardware items in bulk and put in jars to sell at a loss so the women can have more time to buy the items you want to sell.

Best Garage Sale Tips: More Profitable Garage Sales
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