What To Do When You Can’t Have a Garage Sale

by Ryan Guina

One of the best ways to purge the clutter from your home is to have a yard sale or garage sale. Unfortunately, you can’t always have one when you want to. Imagine trying to hold a yard sale in the middle of a winter snowstorm – it’s not happening! You may also find that your homeowner’s association or lease agreement prohibits having a garage sale in your neighborhood or apartment complex.  My wife and I fall into the latter category – we have our home on the market and need to clear out some clutter before we move, but our homeowner’s association prohibits individual yard sales (we have held community yard sales in the past, but they are not common).

What To Do When You Can’t Have a Garage Sale

If you find yourself needing to clear out some space, but you can’t have a yard sale, then try some of the following tips. Most will help you clear some space, and some will even put some money back in your pocket.

Sell Online

One method of downsizing when you can’t have a garage sale is to list your items for sale online.  You can take advantage of traffic to popular auction websites and classified listing sites like eBay.com and Craigslist.org.  For the best results, list each item individually and include a written description as well as a photograph that clearly shows what the item is and it’s condition. Here are some additional tips for selling items on Craigslist and more tips for selling your car on Craigslist; many of these tips apply to other items.


Most everything you might sell in a garage sale or online could also be donated to a variety of charity organizations.  Ask your local churches and shelters if they have a need for the items you no longer need.  The Salvation Army will take a variety of items, including clothing, furniture and household items. The Salvation Army and some other organizations will also pick up large pieces of furniture or other items if you schedule in advance.

Give Gifts

Many items you would consider selling in a garage sale, online, or donating to a charity would also make good gifts.  Do you have slightly worn furniture?  Hang a notice at your local college and see if anyone needs it – give it to whoever can come and take it off your hands.  Ask around if your friends or family need anything that you’re looking to get rid of, you could be doing someone a huge favor by giving them the item(s) that you no longer need.


Sometimes people try to sell things in garage sales or through auction sites that are simply in no condition to sell.  Same goes for giving things away to friends or charities – if the items are in poor condition, you may just need to throw it away to get rid of it.  Check with your own garbage pick up service to see if the items you have can be tossed in the trash; and if not, you may need to take it to the dump and pay a fee to get rid of it.

Temporary Storage

For any items that are too nice to throw away but are not easy to sell online (anything that would cost too much to ship, for example) and that your local charities do not need, and you simply can’t find someone to give it to as a gift – consider renting temporary storage until you are able to have a garage sale.  You can keep items in a storage facility or in your basement or attic space until the weather is warm enough for a garage sale.

Sell items on Consignment

When most people think about selling items on consignment, they think of clothing, and maybe furniture. But there are many other items which can be sold on consignment, including tools, musical instruments, machinery, vehicles, and some other items. Check your local phone book and call ahead to see which items they might be interested in (many stores only carry seasonal items, especially for items such as clothing).

Get creative and combine these

My wife and I have sold a few items on Craigslist, donated some to church and Goodwill, and have made gifts of quite a few items. We also got a temporary storage unit to clear some of the clutter for staging our home.

Published or updated March 30, 2011.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 K.C.

Great post. I prefer garage sales for getting rid of a lot of stuff fast and getting at least a token amount for each item.

We have just finished posting dozens of items for sale on eBay. Photos and writing listings takes a huge amount of time. We sold only 15% of the items we listed and did not get much for the stuff we did sell. Unless the item is in great demand and in next-to-new condition, it is difficult to sell it at all or to get much for it if it is sold. Packing and shipping the items also consumes a great deal of time.

I’ve had better luck using Craig’s List, but again, the items have to be in demand. The disadvantage of Craig’s List is people stopping by the house. That takes time. However, there is no cost for listing or selling on Craig’s List.

The main lesson I’ve learned from selling my used stuff is that I need to be extra careful when I buy something and make sure I get full use out of it, because it will not bring much, if anything, when resold!


2 Ryan

K.C. your comments are spot on! I’ve had a little luck with Ebay, but I prefer not to use it if possible because it is time consuming and more expensive than other options. It’s best for high demand or more expensive items. With Craigslist, I prefer meeting in a public location if possible, rather than have someone come to my home. Of course, that isn’t always possible! Yard sales are probably the most effective method of clearing clutter quickly!


3 Hank

Has anyone had any luck using those companies that will sell your stuff for you on eBay for a cut?


4 Ryan

I’ve never tried it. I could see it being worth it in some instances. It just depends on what you are selling, how many items you have, etc.


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