If you've ever visited a willy-nilly garage sale -- where the Batman action figures are arranged neatly next to the antique desk clock and the magazines with Elvis on the cover -- you know how overwhelming it can be to feel like you'll ever find anything worthwhile. There is the excitement of a "treasure hunt," but after a few of those sales, you're ready to retire for the day.
Don't do this to your customers! Set up your sale so that they can easily find what they're looking for -- while protecting your most valuable items and maximizing the sales of any "extras" you might be offering.
Clearly mark out the categories of your items. Set aside a table or tarp for clothes, a set of boxes for books, a card table for kitchenware, a partitioned section for electronics, etc. Make it clear what each category is by placing signs (with price information or not) on the table sections or boxes where the items are. This lets your clientele make a beeline to what they are interested in, maximizing your chances of a sale.
Give your garage sale a clearly directed path. Lead your customers around the entirety of your yard by setting up your tables and chairs in such a way that they seem to line out a determined path. Hopefully, customers will stick to this path, especially if they see others doing it, and will traverse the whole of your garage sale, ensuring that they don't miss looking at any of your items.
Take height into consideration. Having to bend over to browse through clothes is a turn-off. On the other hand, putting children's items too high for the little ones to see (and subsequently desire!) is a big mistake. When organizing your items, think about the general height of the people you want to see and purchase these items and set up your categories accordingly.
Draw attention to your "attractions." Many garage salers set up stands to sell refreshments of some sort -- the classic, of course, being lemonade. Whether you're selling your famous brownies or selling 25¢ tickets to a cat trick show, you'll want to draw your customers towards your attraction. Put it either at the very front, where shoppers will see it first as they walk up, or at the very back, where they will see it as they pay and while their money is already out and available.
Keep your valuable items near you. It's always a sorry day when someone stoops to pilfering from garage sales, but it does happen. If you have any particularly valuable items that you're selling, organize your sale so you can keep an eye on your more precious things. Collectibles, electronics, and quality housewares are examples of merchandise you might want to keep close at hand.
Once you've finished organizing, come list your garage sale at GarageSaleCow.com -- the Web's largest garage sale community site, with members joining every day.