Also known as a yard sale, estate sale, etc. In the UK they're additionally known as car boot sales and jumble sales, and usually take place at some pre-arranged location instead of in people's driveways.
For real-life purposes, garage sales are events where owners get rid of all the useless junk they couldn't use before and buyers pick up some trinkets cheap. You can find puzzles, books, adorable clothes for your nephew, even the occasional working appliance.
In fiction, garage sales are much more interesting. The puzzles, books, clothes and microwaves have been replaced for fictional purposes with swords, ancient amulets, magic tomes, guns, bombs, and the occasional Call to Adventure
Some common events:
- One of the family members (usually an adult) decides that they just can't let some of their stuff go. They may end up trying to take items back from customers trying to buy them.
- A child is put in charge of sales and ends up selling items for much too little due to inexperience. Or they attempt to sell something they want to get rid of, like an Annoying Younger Sibling.
- A valuable item is accidentally (and incorrectly) sold, and the seller has to get it back before the owner notices it's gone.
- Spouses will argue about "that awful ______" "but it's my lucky/favourite ______"!
- The person holding the sale trying to convince someone that a worthless piece of junk is a valuable antique.
- A joke related to someone wanting to buy the garage itself.
- In Toy Story 2, Al steals Woody from one of these.
- Borat. Borat thinks he ended up at a gypsy yard sale with shrunk women (Barbie dolls) - and eventually finds a magazine about "Baywatch" and his big love - DJ aka Pamela Anderson.
- In the movie of Ghost World Enid has one of these, but ends up pissing off all her customers.
- In Everything Must Go, Nick Halsey is advised to hold one to exploit a loophole that allows him to live on his lawn a few more days provided he's selling stuff.
- The Baby-Sitters Club book where the baby-sitters are running a fundraiser event with the local elementary school, and a few kids get the bright idea to run a garage sale! Cue a bunch of kids being yelled at for trying to sell daddy's books ("But you never read them!") or mommy's new shoes. I think the book was called Dawn and the Big Sleepover.
- There were at least two of these. In one case it was a garage sale, and in another kids were donating their parents' stuff to disaster relief for their pen pals in New Mexico.
- In Owl's Well That End's Well by Donna Andrews, the Protagonist and her fiance have bought as is a house previously inhabited by an elderly obsessive pack rat. In order to clear out the clutter, naturally they hold a yard sale. This gradually morphs into 30+ families selling things at the sale, a costume discount, a murder and another yard sale on the rest of their property when the original sale is closed due to the murder.
- In Everybody Loves Raymond Ray's parents have a yard sale; his father wants to charge $20 for a used thermos, claiming it was once used by Elvis Presley.
- In Dead Like Me, George goes to her mother's garage-sale to buy a doll that used to belong to her when she was alive. In another, Mason sells all of his earthly possessions at one when he thinks he's moving on—only to find out that he's not at the end of the episode.
- In Charles in Charge one of the Powell's kids is left in charge of a family yard sale, and decides to move it inside the house when it starts raining, resulting in several non-sale items getting sold/stolen.
- The Malcolm in the Middle episode "Garage Sale". Lois puts Reese in charge to prove that he can handle things responsibly. However he's a horrible salesman since he's overcharging for worthless items, and undercharging for exspensive ones. He even ends up destroying an old computer worth thousands of dollars because he believed it was junk. Meanwhile, Dewey decides to start selling the family's furniture and appliances after Reese sells his piggy bank full of money.
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Citizen Joe", the title character Joe Spencer finds an Ancient Communication Stone at a garage sale, and immediately buys it. This action allows him to see snippets of Jack O'Neill's life as the leader of SG-1, and later Stargate Command.
- In the Sesame Street episode, "Big Bird's Nest Sale", Big Bird decides to sell some of his old toys for five birdseeds each, and Snuffy decides to be his assistant. Big Bird's teddy bear, Radar accidentally falls into the nest, and The Count accidentally buys him, along with the rest of Big Bird's old toys, for 1,000 birdseeds. When Big Bird finds out about this, he and Snuffy set off to get Radar back from The Count.
- In the Bear in the Big Blue House episode, "The Yard Sale", Doc Hogg stops by the Big Blue house to collect for charity. Specifically, relief for the muskrats following a flooding that left many of them homeless. When Tutter has a hard time getting all of his stuff into his mouse hole, this gives Ojo the idea for a yard sale. The idea takes off, and Pip and Pop are assigned to be sales otters. Treelo finds some of his own things to sell, and Ojo helps out by painting pictures. Tutter, however, finds it difficult at first to part with some of his things.
- Achewood: Teodor has a sale to make money for rent. With Roast Beef's help, he makes over 1800 dollars "selling chipped egg cups and gummy scissors to people who squashed the backs of their shoes down with their heels instead of working their heels all the way into their shows."
- Cinema Bums features one in this strip, where Mindy needs to raise funds for a walk-on role in Joss Whedon's latest film.
- One arc of Nodwick has the party holding a massive yard sale to get rid of the incredible assortment of junk they've looted from dungeons and had Nodwick cart home. Complications ensue when Piffany sets up a lemonade stand and the lemonade gets spiked with Love Potion.
- Uncle Sam holds one in Sinfest.
- The Simpsons
- In "Treehouse of Horror VIII" Homer buys a matter transporter from Professor Frink, which leads to Bart reenacting The Fly.
- The episode "Two Bad Neighbors" begins with a neighborhood-wide yard sale before a Halfway Plot Switch shows Homer feuding with new neighbor George H.W. Bush. When Flanders notices that someone bought the house, he notes that at least something was sold.
- Homer buys Flanders' barbeque grill and his living room furniture at a very low price when Flanders puts a yard sale when his left-handed business was failing in "When Flanders Failed".
- In the Family Guy episode "Road to Rupert" Brian accidentally sells Stewie's teddy bear Rupert in a garage sale, leading the two to go on a road trip to find him.
- Timmy's parents on The Fairly OddParents got a "priceless" Ming vase at a garage sale for $1.
- An episode of Cow and Chicken has the title characters doing one of these. Unfortunately, one of the signs on their table blows off it and in front of the house, which The Red Guy buys and the only way they can get it back is if they defeat him at a game of "My First Battleboat".
- On Animaniacs, the Warners misinterpret the concept of garage sale and ask to buy the owner's garage, with a starting bid of 25 cents.
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Bang for Your Buck" has Mojo Jojo selling off some of his weapons because he's bankrupted himself building weapons. Hilarity Ensues when one little old lady mistakes a disintegrator for a hairdryer. The girls and the Gangreen Gang compete to get enough money for a giant laser, but it is eventually sold to the Mayor. The giant laser turned out to be a snow-cone machine.
- Rocko's Modern Life has Rocko and Heffer holding a sale to make money to pay their pizza tab. Rocko makes enough money by selling his childhood pogo stick, then realizes he can't part with it and buys it back. Fortunately, he still ends up in the black because the melted action figure Heffer donated is bought by an art lover who mistakes it for a sculpture.
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Finding Mary McGuffin," Candace's favorite old doll is accidentally sold at their garage sale and Phineas and Ferb play detective to get it back. Dr. Doofenshmirtz also buys a used Inator at a garage sale and tries to figure out what it does.
- The Venture Bros. episode "Tag Sale - You're It!", Dr. Venture holds one to get rid of his vast collection of not only junk but possibly-lethal failed experiments.
- In an episode of Rugrats the kids misunderstand the purpose of a yard sale and somehow manage to get everything in the house - including the furniture - out on the lawn, where their relatives assume that each item was put up for sale by one of the others, and sell it to some random passerby for far less than it's worth. Each adult thinks the sale was quite successful, until they come back inside and find the house completely empty.
- Happened in Beavis and Butt-Head when the duo watch over Tom Anderson's yard sale. They end up selling his stuff inside his house at very low prices, believing they ripped the buyers off.
- Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants has a yard sale of all his garbage and lies through his teeth to get people to buy his junk, including selling SpongeBob a soda-drink hat with a "#1" on the front. He finds out moments after SpongeBob leaves that the hat is actually worth a fortune and spends the rest of the episode trying to get it back.
- The 101 Dalmatians: The Series episode "Love 'Em and Flea 'Em" begins with Two-Tone looking through a yard sale box for something she can wear to impress Mooch, hoping he'll ask to go to a dance with her. Her quote about yard sales has become quite memetic among fans of the series.
Two-Tone: Yard sale? I love yard sales! Actually, I hate yard sales. Of course, the pros of a yard sale are the bargains, but the cons of a yard sale are that the items are used! Ick!
- In "D.W.'s Baby", when the Read Family has a yard sale, D.W. tries to sell Kate, her baby sister, when she gets tired of having her around the house.
- In "Desparately Seeking Stanley", the Read Family has a yard sale, and Arthur reluctantly decides to sell his favorite teddy bear, Stanley, out of fear of his friends teasing him for holding onto him since he was three. When he sells him to Vicita, he realizes that Stanley still has a lot of sentimental value to him, and he worries what Vicita will do to him, so he tries to buy him back from her.
- In the Sonic Boom episode, "Closed Door Policy", when Amy finds out Sticks is a pack rat, she sells all of Sticks' possessions at a yard sale against the latter's will. This includes a surfboard that blocks the entrance to the underground lair of the Froglodytes, a race of frog-like warriors. The froglodytes capture Sticks and attempt to sacrifice her to their idol god, prompting Sonic and his friends to rescue Sticks using the possessions from Amy's yard sale as weapons.