Garage Sale Goers/Shoppers Etiquette
- If the sign says the sale starts at 9:00am and also says “No early birds” in
fluorescent orange marker, it’s really rude to show up at 6:00am and root
around a strangers backyard.
- If you’re parking, don’t block driveways or pull onto someone’s backyard.
- It’s really rude to cut through someone’s front yard or hop his or her neighbor’s
fence to get to the sale area. Walk around the flowerbeds and don’t snoop
behind the ropes or makeshift walls made of sheets.
- Grabbing everything you think you might want just in case and then dumping it all in a
pile when you decide you don’t want it is really rude.
- If you break it – you buy it!
- If you say you’ll be back for it, you really should come back for it.
- Hiding things with hopes of coming back for them later is not good garage sale
- If you ask the garage sale host if they’ll take offers and they say “No, actually
we’ve priced things really fairly”, then it’s rude to keep pushing and
expecting a negotiation. Similarly if something is obviously priced at a very
low or very fair price it’s insulting to the garage sale host to suggest they
- Elbowing, pushing, yelling or talking across another garage salers line of view is always
- If the garage salers children have set up a lemonade stand it is very good manners
to buy a couple of lemonades and then tip the little guy or gal; especially if
you’re not buying any of their parents junk.
- If the garage sale host has a dog or a young child close by, resist saying “Hey
dog for sale” or “whose baby is that? I’ll buy that baby!” You can be sure at
least 20 people have already said it and it wasn’t any funnier the first time.
- Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with the garage sale host. Looking at someone and
smiling politely, even saying hello, is not a contract to buy something.
- It’s polite to say thank you as you leave (as in thanks for nothing or thanks for
showing me your junk) even if you didn’t buy anything.
- Keep your negative comments to yourself at least until you get to the end of the
driveway. Try to remember that some of the stuff that seems really junky to you
may have meant something to the garage sale host (on a loved one who’s passed
on) at sometime in the past.
Not sure if your finds are truly treasure? Check out Chatelaine’s guide to finding gems while garage sale shopping:
Garage Sale Hosts/Hostess Etiquette
- If you say the sale starts at 7:00am you’d better be there at 7:00am.
- If you don’t want people to offer you obscenely low prices put tags stating prices
on the items.
- If you want people to barter with you, let them know by posting a sign or telling
them you’ll take offers.
- It’s not always necessary to fix things or give all your old stuff a new coat of
paint but it is polite to make sure all the pieces are there (and tell people
if they’re not) at consider giving things a rinse.
- Try not to badger people. Don’t follow them around the garage and tell stories
about every item they happen to glance at.
- Do have change available.
- Don’t feel you have to offer doughnuts and coffee for all. Most people are kind of
uncomfortable accepting hospitality from strangers and doing so makes them feel
obligated to buy something.
- It’s really cheesy to lure people to a garage sale and then bombard them with
Watkins or Amway or Avon sample/items and fliers.
- If you buy stuff at the Dollar Store and plan to resell it, keep in mind that it
will be obvious to most people that you’re doing that and they probably won’t
pay $3 for a $1 item.
- Make eye contact with people even if you’re embarrassed about your junk.
Planning your first garage sale? Better.TV presents this guide to setting up a profitable garage sale:
It’s easy to forget that holding a garage sale comes with legal guidelines that must be followed. Health Canada has put together this list to help you decide what should and should not be resold:
Also, remember to look up the by-laws in your area to find out if there are local regulations to keep in mind.