With the obvious exception of movies and entertainment-related topics, the art of the rummage blogs are some of my most popular since I started writing for The Holy Mess a couple years ago.

Earlier this year, I shared with you my dos and don’t of how to prepare for a successful rummage sale. Before that I detailed a day in the life of a rummage sale-ist and even provided tips for attending a rummage sale.

Sara and part of the Borgstede clan will be visiting my neck of the woods in the next few days, and besides being excited beyond words to see them and spend a good amount of time with them, I am thrilled to share my expertise as I help them put together their own rummage sale.

Regular readers may remember that I’ve been part of a rummage-saleing family for decades now. My mom and grandma and aunt would organize at least two or three sales each year. Having grown up watching and participating in all the behind-the-scenes details, I do consider myself to be somewhat knowledgeable on the subject.

If you haven’t put together a sale before, you’d be surprised by the amount of hard work it takes to organize a successful sale. It’s more than just grabbing a candlestick from the closet, slapping a price tag on it, and placing it on a table in the garage. A garage sale-ist is part organizer, part moving man, part negotiator, part therapist, and part best friend, among other roles.

Having just finished my own latest rummage sale yesterday (with help from my dad and sister-in-law), and as I start making a checklist and pre-sale preparations for Sara’s sale, today is a good opportunity to revisit some of my previous rummage suggestions and give you a couple others I learned from my most recent endeavor.

Rummage Sale Tips: Updates and Additions

  • Late summer or early fall is a brilliant time to host a sale. As children are preparing to go back to school and holidays are right around the corner, this is the ideal time to try unloading clothes, Halloween costumes, Christmas decorations, and pretty much any kind of housewares with an autumn or winter theme.
  • Always check with your neighbors when you prepare a sale. This weekend, a local church and a neighbor down the road were both planning sales the same weekend as me, so we were able to promote each other’s sales and make sure customers knew of the other places they could attend. Neighborhood and multi-family sales tend to attract more people.
  • Depending on where you live, do not to worry about paying for advertising, beyond the purchase of a few signs and balloons for passers-by. I used to put a notice in the classifieds of our local newspaper, but it was becoming ridiculously expensive, and I think the number of people who actually read newspapers has gone down substantially over the years.
  • Use social media to let people know of your sale, ask Facebook and Twitter friends to share posts, and put up notices on bulletin boards at your local grocery stores and restaurants.

All of these suggestions and more can be found in my previous blog DOS AND DON’TS FOR HOW TO PREPARE FOR A SUCCESSFUL RUMMAGE SALE. I wanted to add a couple more ideas for this particular blog.

  • If you are hosting a multi-party sale with items from several different people, put an abbreviation or some kind of mark on the price tags of all items to show which person gets the profit for which items. For instance, the sale I just finished had stuff from seven different people. If things start to get busy, it may be difficult and time-consuming to try figuring out who gets the money for which items. So put a * on items for mom, # on items for sis, P on items for Pastor Paul. Have a notebook handy with all names written down, and just put down the dollar amounts as you’re checking out your customers. This will be save you a lot of hassle!
  • The next idea I want to suggest is based on something that happened for the first time this last weekend. In fact, I hesitate calling it a suggestion yet because I haven’t fully processed it and am not sure how I fully feel about it.

A man who happens to be a regular customer of ours came in to our sale again like he usually does. He had purchased a television from us at our last rummage, and he came in saying that he couldn’t get it to work. Before he had originally purchased it, I had turned it on, showed him that it was working, and went over how to do certain things on it. I even took the time to load it into his truck, as he is an elderly man who has shared with me his history of medical problems – sometimes in gory detail. Remember, as I stated above, you are part-therapist and part-best friend.

Anyway, I told him to return the TV, and if it wasn’t working, I told him I’d give him his money back. Upon return, the TV definitely wasn’t working as it was when it first left my house. I’m guessing he may have dropped it or it may have fallen sometime after he had purchased it or it just gave out. I could have argued it, but him being a good customer of ours, especially one in frail health and assumed limited means, I happily returned his money, for which he was very grateful.

The point of this story, in addition to proving wrong those who say I have no heart, is to suggest that you may want to acknowledge upon sale of certain items that indeed all sales are final. I’m debating whether to put up a sign or just tell people when they make the purchase. I am even considering saying that they can return the item within 48 hours if it’s not working properly or isn’t what they were hoping for or expecting, but definitely not a month later. I personally would never dream of returning an item to a rummage sale, but I have to repeatedly remind myself several times a week that not everyone in the world thinks the same way I do.

If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions on this particular matter, I’m open to hearing what you think. Like I said, it’s never happened before, and I really never expected anything like that to happen, so I’m thinking about the best way to handle it or perhaps even mark it off to an odd once-in-a-lifetime occurrence and just pretend it never happened. I’m always, after all, looking for any reason to put my passive aggression into hyperdrive.

  • One last suggestion before I wrap up – be sure to get plenty of rest and if possible allow yourself a lazy day after everything is done. As I mentioned above, putting together a rummage sale is a lot of hard work. The sale I just finished lasted from Thursday through Saturday. Today I was an absolute zombie and had only enough energy to binge-watch Hulu programs – and of course finish this blog.
  • And I also highly suggest doing the sale with a friend or relative or someone with whom you enjoy spending time. My sister-in-law was a huge help during this last sale, and it was nice to spend that time with her one-on-one, talking and laughing and helping make the time go by a lot quicker. I’m obviously over the moon thinking of the fun I’m sure Sara and I will have when we do her sale in the next couple weeks. I’m sure there will be enough blog-worthy material to last for months.

Do you have any questions I haven’t addressed in this or my previous rummage sale blogs? Do you have any suggestions I have overlooked? Please share your thoughts whether you’re a rummage sale novice or have been doing it for years. I always love to hear your feedback.


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