Moving is always a great excuse to clear the house of clutter. And the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to unwanted furniture and decor. If you’re downsizing or moving out of state or country, it’s necessary. But even if it’s not a big life change…it can be a treat to start fresh with a new look for your new home. Between Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, home decor and furniture can usually sell quickly.  And for a good price too! The only problem with those sites? They are a lot of work! There’s competition. Fake accounts. Answering questions at all hours of the day and night. Then you must coordinate a meet-up in a place you feel safe and comfortable. And unless you’re comfortable with a stranger coming to your home…you’ll have to haul any big items out to a meeting point yourself.

It’s a lot of work. And can be pretty time-consuming.

Estate sales are a great alternative! You’re just blitzing out in a one-day sale. The estate sale circuit in Madison is lively! Here’s what to do to prepare for a successful sale:

1.   Price Items

Pricing out items can be tricky. Your customers will be expecting good deals, but you also want to get a fair price. After all, estate sales can often fund moving expenses! If you’re not sure how much you paid for the item originally, do a quick google search. You may be able to track down the original price. This obviously won’t work for any antiques or heirlooms. But if you frequent Wayfair or Homegoods, the odds are you can find the item again! You can even use a reverse image search if you’re not sure what keywords to use.

You can also use eBay to get a general idea of how similar items are being priced.

Whatever you decide, price it in a way where that’s ok to be haggled down. Estate sales are like a bazaar. There will be haggling going on. Be flexible, but have a bottom line.

2.   Clearly Mark Prices- And Not For Sale Items

After you’ve decided on your prices, make sure your items are clearly marked. Your price tags don’t have to be anything fancy. A sheet of paper and a sharpie will do. Just make sure to use masking tape or another type of adhesive that won’t leave behind any residue or chip any paint.

While you’re marking your items, be sure to clearly mark any items that are not for sale too. Close off rooms that are not open to the public.

3.   Provide Beverages

Providing beverages is a nice touch. Just something simple like water and coffee. This isn’t required of course, but it can ensure that people are comfortable during their browsing. It may encourage them to spend more time shopping, rather than jetting off to quench their thirst. It’s not in any rule book that drinks must be complimentary.  You can sell drinks for a dollar each if you’d like. It can help you boost your profits. And it’ll keep people browsing longer because they’ll want to finish their coffee before leaving.

4.   Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Having some extra help will make it easy for people to ask questions or begin haggling. And don’t forget… you’re welcoming strangers into your home. Having an extra set of watchful eyes will prevent theft. Plus, having family and friends around makes the day more fun! Just be sure to buy them some pizza and beer afterward. 

5.   Set Up Your Cash Register

Pick a designated place to set up your transactions. It could be a pop-up table by the door or your kitchen table. You can get a locking cash box on Amazon for $20. Make a quick run to the bank to get change and some small bills. But also have your Venmo and PayPal information readily available.

6.   Designate Parking Areas

You may be moving, but it’s still important to be respectful of your neighbors and their space. Things can get a little crazy at estate sales! Put up a few signs to clearly mark parking areas or places that are off-limits for parking. Make sure no one gets blocked in.

7.   Keep Items where they belong

Many customers are looking for a specific item. They’ll head straight for the kitchen if they know they’re looking for an electric kettle. There’s no need to set up a “kitchen appliances station” in the living room. Just leave things where they should be. People will navigate your house and find what they’re looking for intuitively.

8.   Make a plan for your pets

Pets get stressed out during moves no matter what. They have a keen intuition for these things. If you have pets, make sure they are out of the way during your estate sale. Keep them in the backyard, or arrange for a puppy play date at a friends’ house. Even the most relaxed and well-trained pet may get stressed or anxious. They may (understandably) act in unpredictable ways if a parade of strangers disrupts their territory.

9.   Advertise

Letting people know about your estate sale is the most important thing you can do!

The most popular way to check for estate sales in Madison is through:

Listing with is an easy process. You just fill out a simple form. But listing on their site will cost you $80.

The listing process for this site is just as easy, but a little bit cheaper. A listing on will cost you $40.

Put up road signs around the entrance to your neighborhood. Make sure the signs include the date, time, and address of the sale.

Post an announcement on your personal Facebook and Instagram. You never know which friends have admired your tastes from afar. They may jump on the chance to buy your furniture! You can also post an alert on  Facebook marketplace and Craigslist to reach audiences that you may not know personally.

Have fun!

Get excited! You’re essentially creating a pop-up boutique for the day. And after the day is done… your packing list for moving will be cut in half! If it all seems like too much for you, you can employ a company like Vintage Harvest or Tallulah & Stella’s Estate Sale Service. But whatever you decide, don’t forget to email me and let me know when your estate sale is. I love cruising sales- and always try to check them out when I can.