Two summers ago, an older couple gifted my daughter a large number of household items as they moved out of state. The goal? Have a garage sale and make money for college.
We spent nearly a week sorting and transporting items, another week preparing for the sale, and a full weekend selling. The result was a whopping $600.
On the other hand, our neighbor who planned to move to Poland later that year joined in the sale, strategically added items to her lot across the street, and made nearly twice the money.
Two garage sales. Very different results.
Consider Your Options
Before deciding to embark on a sale, weigh the time and effort required with other options.
Do you only have a few great items in new or like-new condition? Maybe an online marketplace or auction site would be better.
Do you have quite a few items, but not enough to draw in a crowd? Consider connecting with others for a community or block sale. Donate to a church or non-profit sale. Or invite a neighbor or friend to join forces to draw a wider group of shoppers.
Garage sales can make a lot of money. Karen M, a Clutter-Free member, recently had a sale and “with not too much effort made $1,000.” On the other hand, garage sales can be a lot of work for little to no money. I’ve hosted several garage sales that netted in the neighborhood of a total of $100-$200. Are you okay with either result?
Once you’ve decided a garage sale is the best option, you will need to get to work.
A terrific garage sale takes time. Sometimes a lot of time.
Be prepared. Gather items, price and display them, spend 2-3 days hosting the sale, and commit to clean up and disposing of items that do not sell.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the weather. If it is too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy then your sale may be a bust. Pick the right time of year, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and choose the most temperate part of the day for sale hours.
Do you have enough time to make it worthwhile?
If so, choose a date and put it on the calendar.
Space & Location
You’ll need space to store items until the sale begins and a location to hold the sale.
Where will you store items before the sale begins?
Are you in a prime location for a sale? Or could you hold the sale at a friend or neighbor’s house that is easier to find with better exposure?
Some neighborhoods do not allow yard/garage sales and have restrictions about street parking. Be sure to check any homeowner agreements that may impact your sale.
Where will you hold your sale?
Sale days will be much more manageable (and fun!) if you have friends and family by your side.
You will need a lunch or restroom break.
A crowd may arrive all at once.
Friends and family help keep you company during the slower parts of the day.
Someone to keep reminding you why you are decluttering.
Who will stand by your side while you sell your stuff?
Gather Your Items
Before you can have a sale, you have to know what you’re selling.
Make a pile. Load up boxes. Sort and organize. Go through closets, drawers, basements, and garages and come up with the items you’ll sell. (This is a perfect time to declutter!)
Group like items. Furniture, books, clothing, baby clothes, kid’s items, tools, dishes, kitchenware, appliances, household items, and so on. If you bought it, you can probably sell it.
Do you have enough desirable items to warrant a garage sale?
“There is no better deterrent from bringing new items into your home than seeing that candle you bought for $24.95 re-sell for only $2.50. This is the Clutter Tax we all pay for excess stuff.” -Karen M
Be realistic. Garage sales draw bargain hunters. It is unlikely you can sell an item for even a fraction of what you paid. Even like-new items may not sell for more than half the original price. Exceptions: Certain collectibles. Antiques. Refurbished items.
Decide ahead of time if you’re willing to dicker or if you’ll have a half-price hour or a last call (selling everything for a dollar) at the end of the day.
Remember your objective is not to make money, it’s to get rid of stuff. Bringing it back in the house defeats the purpose of having a clutter-free garage sale.
A few days before the sale, visit the bank. Obtain a wide variety of bills in different denominations. If you priced items under a dollar you will also need change.
Staging is important!
Put the “wows” upfront. You want stuff that will literally stop traffic. Furniture, tools, and electronics are your best bet for getting a spouse to pull the car to the curb.
Clothes. Hanging, easily viewed clothing sells best. A garment rack is ideal, but a shower rod or tautly hung rope can work. The next best option is folded clothes preferably on a table. Be sure to put up a sign that says “Hangers Not Included” unless you’re decluttering hangers too.
Books, CDs, DVDs. Create a temporary display. If you have enough shelf space, place the front covers face out. Next best option? A table. Try to keep the shelves looking full (this is a great job for kids).
Group items. Housewares, small appliances, bath items, baby clothes or toys, yard items, etc. But make sure there’s plenty of space between displays for people to comfortably move.
On the web. Online groups exist to help you get the word out. Check into your favorite sale sites, neighborhood, or market place, and add your listing. Highlight the kinds of things you’re selling (tools, kids’ clothes, furniture, etc.) so you attract the right buyers.
On the street. Create large, readable signs to attract more drive-by traffic. Neon poster board is great for this. Add a few secure balloons to draw attention.
Check city ordinances regarding sign size and location of display signs. Although many people use utility poles, this often violates city rules. Also, be a good steward and collect all signs at the end of your sale.
Tell your friends. Share your goals. Be sure to let your Facebook or Instagram friends know as well.
Newspaper. Running a cheap ad in your local newspaper or an online classified service may bring you more shoppers.
What will you do with anything leftover?
Who will be taking the items away?
Where will it go?
If you were willing to get rid of the stuff in the first place, don’t let it wiggle it’s way back in.
With a lot of planning and a bit of hard work, you can have a successful garage sale. Whether your sale makes $100 or $1000, if you’ve met your goal to declutter you’ve triumphed! Your heart and home will be lighter.
Your turn. What additional tips can you add for a clutter-free sale?
*Thank you, Karen M, (of Clutter Free), and Kathi Lipp for contributing strategic suggestions included in this article.
Need some simple ways to make your cleaning products last longer? Here are 8 simple ways to stretch your supplies, and cut down necessary trips to the store.
Like many of you, I’m looking for ways to leave the house less for errands. Less time spent in grocery stores and warehouses, the better.
I’m trying to find ways to make not only my groceries last longer, but everything else in my house. And with us being home more, let’s just say, I’m cleaning a lot more than usual.
If you’re shopping less, but cleaning more, you may find yourself running out of all your cleaning products at the same time. So, if you need to make your current stash stretch until the next monthly run to the grocery store, here’s how to make your cleaning supplies last.
Measure Your Amounts
Many of us have been trained to fill both dispensers in our dishwasher or fill the laundry soap cup to the brim. Now’s the time to evaluate how much detergent you really need. Read the packaging and see how much detergent is recommended for the load you’re washing. Your friend with toddlers may need to use more laundry detergent than your neighbor who is running a load of work-at-home clothes.
2. Mix Your Own Sanitize
If your cleaning cabinet is running out of products that will sanitize your home, it’s time to turn to your laundry area. Bleach and water, in the right proportions, will do wonders.
“Bleach is very effective at killing the coronavirus, as well as virtually every other germ on the face of the planet,” said Dr. Paul Pottinger, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington Medical Center.
To create your own household cleaner, follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines:
Clean the surface with soap and warm, clean water. Rinse the area with clean water. Then sanitize with a mixture of 1 cup bleach to 5 gallons water. Let the area air dry. Be sure to wear rubber gloves to keep the bleach off your hands.
Spray the Cloth, Not the Surface
Never spray cleanser directly onto the surface you’re cleaning. You’ll save cleaner and money by spraying your glass, wood, and surface cleanser directly on your cloth and then cleaning the intended surface. Many of us subscribe to the myth, the more cleanser, the cleaner it is. But using too much cleanser can actually cause build-up and require extra work to clean the surface. (No wonder we hate cleaning!)
4. Use the Cloth for the Size of the Job
We’ve taken to rationing our disinfecting wipes with one simple trick: tearing them in half. Most of the cleanup jobs I’m doing right now are on the small side: wiping down door handles, disinfecting a sink, wiping down light switches. None of these require a huge cloth to do the job. Now, I tear the wipes in half and stick the leftover wipe back in the container to be used for the next job.
5. Use the Leftovers
We all have them. The cleaner we tried for our bathroom and didn’t love the smell of, but didn’t get rid of either. Now is the time to scour the house for any containers under bathroom sinks, in the laundry area, in the garage, or even in your basement. Where are those half-used bottles of cleaners hiding? Gather everything you have into one place, so you know exactly what you have and what you are running low on.
Check the Label
Read the label on the all-purpose cleaner; you may just be using it for surface cleaning, but the label tells you that it is also a degreaser, a spot cleaner for fabric, and even a carpet cleaner. It’s time to discover the power you already have sitting in that bottle and all the ways that “multi-purpose” is really true.
Use Concentrate as Intended
With so many products being offered as concentrates, make sure that you’re using the proper amount of cleanser, and using it correctly. Do you need to be adding water to the product before using it, or using way less than a non-concentrated product?
Ask Yourself: Does this Really Need to Be Cleaned?
With most of us not going out as much as we are used to, think about the ways that you could reduce the number of items that need to be cleaned on a daily basis.
Do you need to wash that shirt you just wore for 45 minutes for a teleconference call?
How about dishes? Assign each member of your family one different colored cup each day so you are only washing one cup, per person, per day. Depending on the size of your family, that could save a half a load of dishes right there.
You may not be able to employ all of these tactics, but even implementing one or two can help you get to a place of extending the life of your cleaners, as well as feeling safer during this time of crisis.
Every year when that big yellow bus pulls away for the last time, school children everywhere fly home with that exhilarated feeling of freedom. It’s time to toss away the backpacks and drag out the pool floaties and other hot-weather essentials.
Summer stuff, as I call it. Outdoor grilling, beach trips, and epic water gun wars make for a huge pile in the garage (on top of last year’s cornhole game, sports equipment, and the treadmill you plan to sell).
Or the looming family reunion that sends you up into the attic, digging through boxes to find photos for the slide show you’re in charge of.
And what about all the bins of clothing you stored last year, in hopes that your growing kids (or their younger siblings) could get some wear out of shorts sets and swimsuits.
Any of these projects can make you forget just how far you’ve come, even if your living room is 90% clutter free and you’re tackling that kitchen counter daily as part of your evening routine. But before you get discouraged, we’ve got five tips to help you keep your momentum going on your decluttering journey.
Be okay where you are.
There are a lot of shame-inducing circumstances we find ourselves in surrounding our clutter. Even if we’ve been decluttering for a long time, we can discover an area that’s overrun by stuff we no longer need, or stuff that goes someplace else, like all those boxes in the attic we stuffed there “for now” (years ago).
Or, perhaps during a busy season, we let our routines go and now we’re faced with having to re-conquer areas we had worked so hard to declutter. That one dresser that you let pile up, or the bin of toys in the playroom.
Whatever the reason for your dismay, the worst thing you can do is to allow shame to pile up like clutter. Be gentle with yourself as you assess your situation and accept it. Wasting time and energy beating yourself up takes away from your ability to remedy the situation.
Remember, all you have to do is set a timer for 15 minutes. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in that short time. Set a timer on your phone, and then rinse and repeat the next day, and the next.
Before you know it, that area will be decluttered and feeling like new again.
Set small goals.
Instead of dreading that big job in the garage, tackle one shelf or one corner. If we wait for a whole day to magically open up on our calendar for garage cleaning, we might see a couple different presidential administrations before it happens.
You want to choose an area that’s small enough to complete in 15 minutes. In some cases, that may be only one box, one drawer, or half of a shelf. If you have more than 15 minutes to work on it, great! Keep setting the timer until you’ve either finished that area or run out of time.
Accomplishing small goals adds up to big goals achieved. Task by task, decluttering a bit at a time will eventually lead to an entire closet or garage completely decluttered.
Remember your “why.”
Why did you want to declutter in the first place? Often there’s an event that makes a cluttery person finally decide to get rid of all their unnecessary stuff. It could be the death of a parent (and the clean-out process of that parent’s house), or it might be an embarrassing visit when someone appraised the dresser with raised eyebrows. (Ahem…Not that any of us here at Clutter Free Academy have experienced any of those things personally, mind you.)
We may have had a unique catalyst for our clutter-free journey, but one big reason for us all to keep at it is this: God created each of us for a unique purpose and getting rid of the clutter frees you up to do what He made you to do.
Celebrate your wins.
Who doesn’t love a good celebration? Looking forward to a fun moment (or three) when you accomplish a decluttering project will help you across the finish line.
If you’ve finished clearing off the game shelf and gotten rid of those Hi-Ho Cherrio and Chutes and Ladders (and your kids are in middle school), play a game your family still enjoys, maybe one you rediscover after reclaiming that space.
Or reward the kids with a trip to the pool for helping you bag up winter clothes that are too small. It doesn’t have to be a big deal—just something to mark the accomplishment.
Keep your 15-minute decluttering routines.
In the summertime, it’s easy to lose our school year routines. But the future you—the one packing next year’s school lunches and buying backpacks filled with #2 pencils will thank you for the 15 minutes you spend each day decluttering.
It may not seem like much, but your efforts add up to a big payoff.
Like Jen Babakhan says in her new book, Detoured, “All the little things you do over and over every day are seen by God. If you could watch your life like a movie on fast-forward, you would see that the dishes, laundry, books, snuggles, tantrums (by you or the children), and even the socks you pull out of the corners of the couch on a much-too-regular basis add up to a life of authenticity and love.”
Thanks to our fabulous friends over at Harvest House, we are able to give a few of you a free copy of Detoured! 5 people will win a copy of Detoured!
And one Grand Prize winner will receive:
Lunch Tote Bag
Reusable Ice Packs
Leave a comment below to be entered to win. What is the summer decluttering job on your list?