DIY Tag Sale Tips

It’s spring and you are thinking of how to get rid of all your unwanted clutter. A tag sale might be the way to go, but the task often seems daunting. Here are a few tips to help you get the must out of your unwanted items.

First, let me tell you what NOT to sell at a tag sale:


NEVER sell jewelry at a tag sale. You will always get more money by selling to an antique dealer. Here’s why…many pieces are worth more than you think. Even costume jewelry can be worth money. Some costume sells for more than sterling silver. If you are in New England, come by and we can tell you what you have. TIME is worth money. Selling earrings for .25 cents and a dollar can take all day. NO ONE will tell you what a piece is really worth at a tag sale. Antique dealers go to tag sales all the time hoping to find mistakes you have made. If you aren’t close enough to sell your jewelry to us, you can call local antique stores and ask if they buy costume. If they don’t, call us and we can help you. I’m not trying to promote my store, I just love jewelry and I hate seeing people giving away things they can make more money on if they knew the value of it. Call or text us if you need help. 413-512-3714

You can make more money selling advertising on online auction sites and craigslist. It’s a hot item right now. At least look up the item and see what it should sell for before you put a tag on it. This is a good rule of thumb for most things. By educating yourself on what things sell for, you can do better financially for yourself!

Jewelry from these eras always sells well. There is a huge group of collectors who love mid century modern items. Everything from clocks, lamps, clothing, etc., sells high right now. Do you homework on these items. Most antique stores buy mid century modern items as well as the other eras I mentioned.
Here’s how to make your tag sale a success:
  • Make a list of everything you LOVE first. Look each item up on auction sites in the sold listings. This will help you price the items correctly. Antique dealers will usually give you half of the sold price because they pay 15-25% in fees when they list it.
  • Gather everything you could care less about and put those items on separate tables. Have a table for .25, .50 and.99 cents. Put those tables out where people can easily see them and get to them, usually around the street so if thieves come they will steal those items, not the better things. Another reason you need to have SUPER CHEAP tables is what I call the “Walmart effect”. By putting out cheap tables, it allows people to pick up things for cheap and they stay longer and buy more. IMPULSE buys bring customers, lie when you are at the checkout line at Walmart and you grab things you don’t NEED but want because they are cheap. Candy cars, super glue, safetly pins etc.
  • ADVERTISE! ADVERTISE ADVERTISE! Did I say advertise enough? I don’t think so! Use your facebook, Instagram, snapchat, craigslist, local papers, make signs, etc. Start advertising 2 weeks in advance. Be sure to list what you will be selling. Here’s a good example:

This tag sale will start at 6am and will include Antique Reference Books, Art Books, Early Books, Glassware, Woodenware, Prints, Frames, Copper, Brass, Porcelain, Black & White Photos, Toys, Tools, Silverplate, and more..

  • Be aware people WILL come an hour early, regardless of what you say. Even if you say, “NO EARLY BIRDS” they will come anyway, especially dealers. Politely but firmly tell them they can look and buy when the sale starts at (Insert time here). To help keep early birds out, unless you don’t mind them, you can put sheets over your tables.
  • Put your higher priced items close to your checkout station AND where you can see them! You can also put sealed, wrapped candy near the checkout station so when people pay, they can take a piece of candy as a thank you.
  • Give away free cookies, candy etc. This trick also helps people stay longer. You can also sell food if it’s legal in your state. (Look up the laws in your area about selling food obviously.)
  • Make a giveaway table of things you just want GONE. In my case, this is usually my creepy dolls. LOL. My husband hates dolls so when we do antique shows, I always load up my unwanted dolls to give the kids. This helps in two ways, it keeps the kids happy while the parents shop and it helps the parents not have to buy the kids more junk they don’t want them to have. ONE FREE doll is better for a parent than 5 dolls at $1-5.
  • Arrange your items in tables with plastic table clothes. Put all similar items together. Toys go on one table, dishes on another, etc. This will help you make more money as the items will present better.
  • BE REALISTIC with your prices! Hummel figurines used to sell for $75-200 dollars each. Now, they sell for $5-10 IF a Canadian seller is lucky enough to be there, otherwise you can’t give them away at most auctions. China and crystal don’t sell right now. Be aware your fine china won’t sell for much. Meissen, Dresden, Minton and Rosenthal still bring some money but not as much as they used to. For example, a full tea set by Dresden just sold for $65 at Meissner’s Auction in New Lebanon. Years ago that would have sold for hundreds of dollars!
  • DO NOT SAY, “Make me an offer”! Trust me you will be offended! Instead say, “It’s $XX or best offer”. If you just say, “make me an offer” don’t be surprised when the customer either says some crazy low number or gives you a blank stare. Most people don’t want to offend you and they don’t know what to say, so have a starting price and haggle from there.
  • Don’t guarantee anything, especially electrical items. TEST EVERYTHING before you sell it such as appliances and lighting…basically anything with a plug. If someone asks if something works, you can tell them you tested it but also add you can’t guarantee it.
  • This sounds redundant, but making a simple sign that says, “NO RETURNS AS IS” can’t hurt.
Do not allow people in your house for any reason. Even to use the restroom. This is an old trick thieves use to steal things. They can always go to a gas station. It isn’t your job to take care of them. I’m not being mean, I’m just protecting you.
Keep your money ON YOU in a fanny pack or the like. Keep small bills for change as well. Unless you personally know the customer, do not take checks.
Estate sale planners take up to 40% of your sales. If you can do the tag sale without them, you are better off. Here’s why; Estate sale professionals price items at retail prices. Dealers won’t come to your tag sale if it’s managed by a professional because they know items will be priced too high. Professionals also offer to buy all your “good stuff” before they sell it at the tag sale, usually for less than 50% of what it will sell for.  They want to buy all the good stuff so they can resell it. YOU can sell it if you do your homework first. There are a few good reasons for employing these people, like if you live out of state and you are liquidating your parents estate, but just know the pitfalls.
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Ok, that should help you get started. Feel free to email or text us if you need help. If you are in the New England area, you can always bring in your items and sell them to us. We always always always buy jewelry, furs and anything from the eras I listed above. (GEORGIAN, EDWARDIAN, VICTORIAN, ART NOUVEAU, ART DECO or MID CENTURY MODERN) Thank you and I hope this helps you.
Best regards,
Malena Chipps
Fancy That Antiques
2805 Boston Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095