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, Woody tries to save a squeaker toy named Wheezy from one of these, where he ends up getting toynapped by Al.
- 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.
- The list of fairs and markets in The Discworld Almanack includes the Ankh-Morpork equivalent of the car boot sale, the cart tail sale. This is organised by the Thieves' Guild, in reference to a comment Sir Terry Pratchett made on Usenet that car boot sales are where you go because you need replacements for your stolen garden tools, and end up buying your stolen garden tools.
- Game shows:
- High Rollers: One of the special bonus games during the Wink Martindale era was called "Wink's Garage Sale," which — depending on the roll of a die, awarded the contestant either a prize or a worthless gag gift" (such as a Mickey Mouse phone that might have been purchased at a Goodwill store). The other numbers corresponded to more desirable prizes, one being a feature prize that was worth more than $3,000 and the others prizes worth anywhere from $500 to $2,000.
- Sale of the Century: On occasion, one of the Instant Bargain segments was dubbed a Sale "Garage Sale," consisting of previous Instant Bargain prizes that were not won. Anywhere from four to six items might be offered at a time, and although most of the prizes were the more unusual offerings, not all of the prizes were worthless gag gifts (at least one "Garage Sale" included a trip to Hawaii, while others usually included such things as TVs and stereo equipment). The major difference between regular Instant Bargains and Garage Sales was that if the player eligible for this particular Instant Bargain passed, host Jim Perry would open up things to all three players and allowing them to possibly buy; he would simply lower the asking price as needed to as low as $1, until someone either bought the prizes or all three passed an a "no sale" was declared. Perry once remarked that Sale "Garage Sales" allowed contestants who were trailing by a large margin and probably not likely to win the game to come away with some nice merchandise he might not otherwise get a chance to win.
- 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.
- Family Matters: The last pre-Urkel episode, "Family Quilt," sees Laura accidentally sell the Winslows' heirloom quilt, which had been in the family for more than 200 years, after the quilt becomes mixed in with other merchandise at the family's garage sale. (Yes, plenty of other bad garage sale jokes abound in the meantime.) Laura realizes her mistake and after seeing her grandmother's thinly-veiled disappointment in her goes all out to get it back. The stubborn curator, who had bought the quilt for top dollar, won't budge and is actually prepared to go to court to get to keep this rare find, but Laura's tearfully impassioned speech finally gets the curator to relent.
- 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.
- The song "Yard Sale" by Sammy Kershaw is about a yard sale being held by a couple who are getting rid of all the things that they used to own because they have broken up:
Oh they're sortin' through what's left of you and me
Paying yard sale prices for each golden memory
Oh I never thought I'd ever live to see
The way they're sorting through what's left you and me
- 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.
- A garage sale can be seen in the Left 4 Dead 2 level Hard Rain... with various firearms and deadly melee instruments on sale.
- In Killing Floor, one of the "Get to the Trader" quotes is "Time for a car boot sale, I feel..." Only in this case, the car boot sale is run by an incredibly heavily armed woman charging for powerful ordnance in a not-zombie apocalypse.
- The Strong Bad Email "garage sale" is mostly about mocking garage sales and the sorts of weirdos who shop at them, such as "The Haggler", "The Lurker" and "Coach Z".
- In the Dorkly Bits short, "Link's Yardsale", Link decides to sell some of the items cluttering his inventory at a yard sale, including Majora's Mask, the ocarina that Zelda gave to him as a child, and The King of Red Lions.
- 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 "We're on the Road to D'ohwhere", the B-story is Marge having a yard sale, and accidentally becoming a drug dealer when people start buying the contents of the medicine cabinet.
- 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.
- In the The Loud House episode, "Come Sale Away", Lincoln and his sisters compete against each other to see who can make the most money at their annual garage sale. They get carried away and sell all the furniture, getting themselves grounded as a result. They also believe they accidentally sold Lily's security blanket, and try to buy it back from Flip by giving him all their garage sale money. It turns out that Lily's blanket was in the washing machine the entire time, and Flip conned the Loud kids out of their money by selling them identical fakes. Fortunately, Flip gets his comeuppance when the expired chemicals he bought from Lisa to use as windshield wiper fluid blows up his gas station. Also in the episode, Leni literally tries to sell the garage.
- In the My Life as a Teenage Robot episode, "The Price of Love", Sheldon pays Pteresa to date him to make Jenny jealous so that she will notice him. Because she charges so much, he ends up having to sell everything but his underwear at one of these to pay her back.
- Kaeloo: The second season 3 episode has Kaeloo, Stumpy and Quack Quack hold a garage sale with Mr. Cat as their only customer. He initially refuses to buy anything, but Kaeloo uses a psychological trick that convinces him to buy almost everything. After buying so many things, Mr. Cat winds up having his own garage sale - where he tricks them into buying their own stuff back at exorbitant prices.
- We Bare Bears: The episode "Yard Sale" opens with the Bears taking a box of "Free" junk from a pregnant woman's yard sale. Hilarity Ensues when Grizzly gets a pair of toy "Smash Hands" stuck to his paws, Ice Bear tries to get in shape with an old maternity fitness DVD, and Panda finds an old phone and gets a mysterious text message from "Annie" who turns out to be the lady from the garage sale; the phone Panda found actually belongs to Annie's husband.