Turn Clutter into Cash with a Community Garage Sale and Scavenger Hunt Hot
Fall is a great time for garage sales. As the weather cools down it becomes easier to spend time outdoors walking around and it’s a perfect time for getting rid of things that families aren’t using anymore, minimizing clutter, and making room for new in our lives – just in time for the holiday season.
We’ve already written on some of the best ways to plan a community swap and shop or spring cleaning party – but here’s another idea to make your annual community sale a more participatory event.
Incorporate a scavenger hunt as part of the event
1. A few weeks in advance, encourage residents to send a photograph and description of their strangest, funniest, most interesting, or most unusual item that they are planning to put up for sale.
2. Create an album of the strange and unusual finds on your social media page to build excitement and encourage participation on the day of the event – but don’t share who’s selling them!
3. Create downloadable lists or print and distribute printed cards on the day of the event noting all the unusual items. If you don’t want to involve residents in listing their tchotchkes you can also print pre-compiled scavenger hunt lists listing unusual items, or make up your own.
4. As residents visit their neighbors’ sale items, urge them to search for the pre-listed unusual finds on the various tables.
5. Once found, have families sign off on the scavenger hunt card that the item was found at their location.
6. Award prizes to the residents that collect the most signatures. If there are multiple “winners” who collect all the needed signatures, hold a drawing for an advertised prize – perhaps a gift certificate to your nearest container, organizing, or home store.
Here are a few additional ideas and tips to make your resident-led community garage sale a success:
1. Encourage residents to collect clutter year-round and get organized well before the event. If you plan to make this an annual event, remind residents to hang on to unused items and save them for the sale throughout the year – you may even want to team up with a local storage center or shipping store to offer discounts on storage space and storage boxes for your residents.
2. For residents that need tables, you may want to offer to rent tables and chairs for residents that can be delivered and set up the morning of the event. Depending on what folding table rentals cost in your area, $10-15 per resident should cover the cost of rentals if needed. Offer tables and chairs as a paid service to interested residents and have them reserve tables in advance.
3. At week before the sale, remind residents to go through their homes to clear out clutter.
4. Two or three days before the sale, remind residents to price and organize everything they are planning to put out for the sale. Send out links to garage sale tips and encourage garage sale prices (not vintage Ebay prices!)
5. You may want to buy price stickers in bulk ($10 for 2100 stickers) and sell garage sale label sheets by the sheet at the main office. At the very least, let residents know where to buy colorful pre-printed labels ($4 for 525 stickers) to make their lives, and bargain hunting, easier for everyone.
6. Ask residents to send high quality photographs of some of the larger and more desirable items they intend to sell. Be sure to include pictures of bigger ticket items on your social media pages to build excitement and entice community members to participate and/or attend.
7. Advertise the sale on social media and Craigslist to encourage additional visitors. Craigslist is one of the most-effective marketing tools for advertising a community garage sale and it’s 100% free to advertise.
8. Encourage residents to post their own ads for their high demand or bigger ticket items on your local Craigslist with a link to your social media event for directions. Remind residents to also be courteous and delete their postings as soon as the item sells.
9. Post your community sale in various local sell and swap groups, in online forums, and in Facebook groups in the days leading up to the event.
10. Put time and effort into making quality, easily-readable signs. A good rule of thumb is the brighter, bolder, and bigger the sign, the more visitors you’ll attract and the better the sales will be for your community.
11. Designate someone to put the signs out the morning of the sale. Let them know specifically where to place the signs to lead visitors straight to your community.
12. Ensure that you have a large highly visible, decorated, and professional sign at your main entrance well in advance that advertises your weekend event.
13. Check your local sandwich board guidelines and laws in your area. Be sure to avoid placing signs in any illegal locations.
14. Encourage residents to work in teams for giving each other needed breaks. You may also want to consider allowing them to bring in items to sell for their friends and family.
15. Fall weather can be unpredictable at times. Encourage residents to have a plan to cover their belongings or pack up quickly should the weather change for the worse.
16. Remind residents to be safe with their cash and change and always keep it in a worn purse, pouch, apron, or pocket – with frequent trips inside to drop off large bills they earn!
**TIP** After the event be sure to follow up with resident and ask them how much they made. Total up the net sales from the event and share the grand total on social media for some very positive PR!