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How to Get Rid of Some Junk and Make a Profit While Doing It

It’s amazing how junk can pile up in a house. Clothes we haven’t worn in ages fill our closets. Books we’ll probably never read take up valuable space on bookshelves. Knick knacks cover every shelf, end table, and nightstand in the house. Not to mention all the stuff in the attic that we probably haven’t seen in at least five years.

While some of this stuff has heirloom value, the rest of it has junk value. Sound like an oxymoron? Regular garage sale goers and holders know that there truly is value in your junk. The old adage, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” is most loudly pronounced in the summer listings for rummage sales (also known as yard sales, junk sales, garage sales, or ‘boot’ sales in Britain).

If you’re looking to de-clutter your life, why not have a garage sale this summer? A good sale takes some work and planning. While you can still make extra money on one thrown haphazardly together, a well thought out and advertised sale will not only bring in some bigger bucks, it will eliminate a good deal of stress as the big day grows closer.

Now that the holidays are over, use your free time to start planning your summer rummage sale. A head start will allow you to plan during your days off and evenings. It will also give you a chance to set dates for your sale, make advertisements, and price your outgoing junk. Here are some tips to get you started and take you through to the summer months when you’re ready to unveil your sale to the rest of the town.

1. Designate a “sale” area in your home – Pick a spot in your home to store the things you’re going to sell. Make sure it’s not an area that will need to be used in the next couple of months since it will probably fill up pretty quick. An unused garage, storage shed, or spare room are all good for this purpose. Mark anything in the area that is NOT going to be sold so that when the time comes, you don’t accidentally get rid of something you don’t want to part with.

2. Use your evenings to “pick twenty” – After a long day at work and taking care of your family, the last thing anyone wants to do is get ready for a rummage sale. However, you only need about five minutes a night to get a good start on your sale. When you have a few minutes of downtime, go through your house and pick twenty things you can part with. It can be any 20 things spread out around the house, or specific to say a closet or one room. Put those things in the “sale” room and then enjoy the rest of your evening. Do this every night until you’ve gathered up all the stuff you’re willing and ready to part with.

3. Put away weekend pricing time – One of the most tedious parts of having a rummage sale is pricing every single item. By starting now, you can divide this laborious task into small chunks of work. Pick an hour or two on your days off to price anything in your “sale” room. Tags can be purchased at the local dollar or discount store. Make sure to separate the priced items from the non-priced items to keep your space organized. If you’re not sure what value to give certain items, go ahead and price on the high side. Just be ready to go down if someone wants to haggle. Pricing things in smaller increments will keep you from getting bored and when the time comes, you’ll be ready for your sale.

4. Pick your rummage sale weekends now – Grab a calendar and figure out when you want to hold your sale. Holiday weekends are high traffic times for rummage sales, as out-of-towners and locals alike enjoy using their time off to find some good bargains. If you don’t have plans of your own, consider holding your sale over one of these weekends. If you can’t, simply find one that works for you. Hard core garage sale shoppers will be there no matter what.

5. Look into your city’s rummage sale ordinances – While some cities don’t have garage sale laws, others require that you obtain a permit that allows you to sell things from your personal property. These permits aren’t usually expensive and can be obtained from your local city council or courthouse. Some towns even offer garage sale kits through their local newspapers which includes a permit and an advertisement for so many words. Get yours now before the rush starts and have a fun, legal rummage sale.

6. Recruit help – It’s possible to run a rummage sale by yourself, but when the rush hits, it could get pretty stressful. Start putting the word out now that you’re looking for some help. Older children can help bag or rearrange items into empty spots as the sale progresses. Teenagers can take and make change. Don’t have kids (or at least not any willing to help)? Get with some friends and see if they’d like to add some things to the sale for the price of just a few hours of their help. In many cases, they’ll be happy to do it, and running a sale with someone you can gab with makes it all that more fun.

7. Make sure you have plenty of display space – Depending on how much junk you’ve got, you’re going to need places to put everything you’re selling. Tables are the best, since they’re at a level to make browsing easy for everyone. Make sure you have enough. Round up your own tables. Ask friends and family to borrow picnic or card tables. If you have ties to a local church or community center, you’ll likely be able to borrow some of their long tables for a small rental fee or even for free. Clothing racks and bookshelves can also be used. Just make sure to put a “Not for Sale” sign on anything that you want to use for display purposes only. Children’s toys can be kept on a blanket placed on smooth ground, and a piece of plywood over some sawhorses will do in a pinch as an extra display table.

8. Get the word out – No one’s going to know about your sale unless you advertise. Spread the word wherever you can. Start making flyers now on a computer. If you have younger kids, put them to work making posters for your sale. Two weeks before your sale starts, take out an ad in the paper. Even a small one will get people’s attention. One week before, start putting up flyers and posters in local supermarkets, restaurants, and laundromats. Tell friends, co-workers, and family members. Ask them to help spread the word. Make sure you have signs to post on nearby city streets to direct traffic to your sale for its duration. Don’t forget to put dates and addresses on your ads, as well as some teaser items. The more you promote your rummage sale, the better your turnout will be. (Of course, the most important tip, post your ad on Rummage!)

9. Have everything ready the night before – The day of the sale is going to be pretty crazy, and the last thing you’re going to want to do is any last minute set-up. Have everything ready to go the night before so that with only minimal work, you’ll be ready for business. Have clothes folded or hung. Line books up wherever they’re going to be displayed. Make sure everything is neat and that breakable items have been pushed out of the reach of children. Set up your “cashier” table with enough chairs for you and your co-workers. Get change from a local bank or supermarket in order to break big bills from early bird shoppers who don’t know any better. Situate everything in an enclosed area so that it’ll be easier to arrange as needed when the sale is open. If need be, cover any tables or displays with plastic tarps to guard against bad overnight weather.

10. Let the fun begin – On the day of your sale, start early. Sale goers will be out looking for good deals. As hostess of the rummage sale, make sure you’re friendly and greet all your customers with a smile. Be willing to haggle, though stay firm on things you believe should get a certain price. Even if someone doesn’t buy anything, thank them for stopping and wish them a good day. While being friendly might not make your profits go up, your customers are likely to remember you and tell their friends to check your sale out. Plus, you’ll want the good PR for future sales.

Above all, have fun with it! Once you’ve put all the hard work into having a successful sale, you’ll be able to enjoy the profits rolling in from things that were doing nothing more than taking space in your house. When all is said and done, you’ll have reduced some major clutter and have some extra money in your pocket for something fun.


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Author: Amanda Sposato

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