How to Tell the Difference Between a Yard Sale, Garage Sale, and More

A man browsing books at a sale
We’ve all heard of yard sales, garage sales, rummage sales, tag sales, and estate sales. Odds are, you’ve been to one or at least seen signs around your neighborhood. But outside of knowing these are places for selling old items, you may not know the exact differences. “What’s the point of having an estate sale vs a garage sale? Or a moving sale vs a garage sale?” you might ask. With all these different names, it’s easy to get mixed up. Don’t worry though, we can help you out. These are how you can tell the difference between all the different types of sales.

Yard Sale

The first type of sale we’re going to talk about is a yard sale. Most people think that yard sales and garage sales are the same things. The first main difference is in location — a yard sale will usually be in a yard instead of a garage, though it still can be.

Basically, a yard sale is a way for people to sell items they no longer want or need. This can be for a move, need more space, or they think other people will appreciate them more. They put everything they want to get rid of out in their yard to sell to the neighborhood. They can advertise it online, through word of mouth, or signs.

The day of, they set their things in the yard and wait for buyers. Buyers can walk right into the yard to browse for items.

Garage Sale

Rummage sale

This is the type of sale most people will think of for all these sales. When you really break down estate sales and moving sales vs garage sales though, there are some key differences. For instance, a garage sale is often by definition held in a garage. Similar to a yard sale, the seller decides on things they want to give a new home and sells them. The actual conventions for a garage sale differ from place to place.

In the Midwest

In the midwest, while still called garage sales, the sale will actually happen in a yard. So, people from this area can use yard sale and garage sale interchangeably.


In other places, the garage is the home base for the sale. It can extend out into the yard, but the garage will be at the heart of it.

There is a decent amount of overlap between garage and yard sale, depending on where you are. Garage sales can happen in the yard but often use the garage as the center point. Like yard sales, they’re a way to find new homes for cherished items.

Rummage Sale

Dishes at a rummage sale

To understand rummage sales, you’re going to want to know the meaning of rummage itself: to search through a mass of objects, often unorganized. A rummage sale is a similar idea. It’s a sale where the products are thrown into a giant pile haphazardly. Buyers have to sort through it themselves.

So, how does a rummage sale compare to a garage sale or vs an estate sale? Well, rummage sales typically are used to raise money for something like a charity or event. You’ll often find them at churches, schools, or similar places. The items you rummage through are often donated by community members.

Tag Sale

A tag sale is pretty straightforward. It’s any sale that involves items with tags. It’s not as common as other sales because people don’t often go to the extra trouble of creating tags for their items. But, they tend to be pretty popular in the northeast. What sets a tag sale apart vs moving sales or garage sales or estate sales is that it’s much more organized. Each item gets a dedicated tag and price, and people can easily pick out tags and buy the items. There’s no rummaging or confusion over items. They’re all tagged.

Estate Sale

An estate sale has a lot of moving pieces. They occur whenever the owner of the estate has passed away, has financial problems, or is going through a divorce. So, how does an estate sale compare vs a garage sale? For the most part, it’s larger and has higher-quality offerings. It’s often a large sale of all the estate owner’s items, rather than select items they didn’t want or donate.

How it Works

An estate sale is often advertised locally and can either be opened to the public or to privately invited guests. Buyers can walk through the actual home as it was lived in and can pick out their items of choice. That’s another difference between estate sales vs garage sales and moving sales, they take place throughout the entire house.

Let’s Recap

Old books lying on the ground

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities and subtle differences when you compare estate sales vs garage sales, moving sales, rummage sales, tag sales, and yard sales. Yard sale and garage sales are often used interchangeably, with the main difference being the actual location of the sale. In some areas, a garage sale may even be held completely in a yard. Rummage sales often contribute to a charity and are very disorganized compared to garage sales. Tag sales tend to be much more organized and apply to any sale that uses tags for items. Lastly, estate sales go through the belongings of someone who is deceased, divorced, or having financial problems.

That’s the Difference!

When it comes to knowing the differences between estate sales vs garage sales, moving sales, and other sales, it mostly comes down to the purpose and method of selling. Their main goals are mostly the same: give old belongings a new home and life! The purpose and reason behind that can vary though. If you want to look for garage sales near you, using Yard Sale Radar is a great place to start! You can make the whole process much simpler, and, most importantly, have fun! Think of it as a treasure hunt across different lawns in your neighborhood!

If you need any help or want to ask questions during your garage sale adventure, you can contact us. With our help, you can find and cherish new items forever!