Hello, my friends!

Summer has creeped into our lives again, which means along with miniature golf outings, frantic calls to the A/C repairman, and exasperated attempts to fit into last year’s swimwear, it’s time to do what Mickey and Judy did and put on a show – or in this case, a rummage sale.

Last spring, I presented you with life-saving tips for attending a rummage sale.

I have also shared with you graphic details in a day in the life of a rummage sale-ist.

Now, for the first time, I present you with my handy dandy tips in the actual preparation and execution of a success rummage sale. Like many things in life, it takes a cup of patience, a pint of determination, and just a drop or two of temporary insanity.

Rummage sales are a generational thing in the Marshall family, along with low metabolism, the love of Hawaiian shirts, and the temporary insanity described above. I grew up watching and eventually participating in the pricing, negotiating, and eventual selling of items everyone needs to have like commemorative plates celebrating Betsy Ross’ creation of the American flag and music boxes that play “The Morning After” by Maureen McGovern.

I consider myself knowledgeable in this area and am happy to share with you some of my expertise. Hopefully you’ll make enough to pay for a trip or two to your local water park or school supplies for next fall.

How to Prepare for a Successful Rummage Sale

  1. DO CHECK WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS – It’s always good to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Lehman down the street to see if they have any plans of having a rummage sale anytime soon. If you can get the neighbors to participate at the same time, you can do a block sale or neighborhood sale, which tends to attract more potential buyers. Plus, you can buy their stuff real cheap and sell it at a profit next year!
  2. DO ALLOW PASSERSBY TO COME WHILE YOU’RE SETTING UP – This is a new one for me. In the past, I would always set up the garage with the doors closed, veiled in a cloud of secrecy. Today I had the doors and windows open to enjoy the breeze and the sound of senior citizens gossiping and laughing throughout the neighborhood. I actually had drivers stop and ask if I was having a rummage. I told them I was getting ready to and they were welcome to take a look and see if there’s anything they liked. I made a few sells even before the rummage opened! Can’t beat that!
  3. DON’T PAY TO ADVERTISE – Unless you live way off the beaten path with very light traffic and little or no communication with the outside world, don’t pay to advertise. I’ve done it in the past and, believe me, it’s not worth it. Things have changed drastically in the last several years, and with the advent of social media, the need to put an advertisement in the paper is not necessary. I have joined a couple Facebook rummage sale groups in which you can advertise and share pictures of your pending sale – free of charge. I suppose you could also do Craigs List, although I’ve never used that service because I heard of a Craigs List killer one time and it freaked me out.
  4. DO PUT UP PLENTY OF SIGNS – No matter what extent of advertising you do, it’s vital to put up good-sized, clearly legible signs directing traffic to your sale. I am always perplexed by people who put a notice on a wrinkled 8×10 piece of cardboard that Superman couldn’t see what his x-ray vision. Use white poster board with black lettering! Doesn’t have to be elaborate – you can just put the words RUMMAGE SALE or GARAGE SALE and and arrow in your general direction, and that will get the job done. I put them on every conceivable entrance to my street as well as heavy traffic areas in the general vicinity of where I live.
  5. DO KEEP ORIGINAL PRICE TAGS INTACT – I came across a brand new water bottle that I planned to sell for maybe 50 cents when I noticed the original price was still on it, stating a price of $19.95. Obviously, I decided to raise my asking price significantly. Keep your items in their original condition to the best of your ability. Do not remove the tags, keep them in their original boxes, and keep all available paperwork and receipts when possible. This will help justify your asking price.
  6. DO PREPARE TO NEGOTIATE BUT STAND YOUR GROUND – Just between you and me, I tend to slightly over-price my items since I know many people will want to negotiate. A lot depends on how badly you are wanting to part with your merchandise. Since I have sales at least once a year, I’m in no hurry to sell certain items and will remain firm in my asking price. The right buyer is out there somewhere – that’s where the cup of patience comes in handy. That being said, I am happy to compromise when it comes to most items, especially when children are involved. I’ve been known to give items for free to children with good manners and attractive parents.
  7. DO HAVE FUN – Last year, I live blogged my rummage sale on Facebook, which was detailed in my blog A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A RUMMAGE SALE-IST. I kid you not, I had people tell me they came to the rummage just because of what they were reading on the internet. It made the whole sale a lot more fun, and I really think people appreciated the humor and creativity. Happy customers spend money!
  8. DO BE CHARITABLE – On the last day of your rummage, try having a 50% off sale or a fill-a-bag for $5 sale. People obviously enjoy the bargains, and the fun is contagious. Last year, on the day after the rummage, I put lots of unsold items in the driveway with a sign that said FREE and let people go to town. It actually turned out to be a very touching experience – a single mom on a fixed income who had recently moved to the city found many items to add to her new home. Such a great feeling! I have also donated non-purchased items to local charities and organizations that have thrift shops to benefit the homeless. Having a rummage sale can be a surprisingly rewarding experience.

Well, my friends, I hope this gives you a few helpful pointers in making this year’s rummage sale the best ever. It’s really a lot of hard work, and every year I tell myself that this will be the last year, but it’s such a great way to meet and fellowship with people, especially for an introvert like me.

Every year, you always hear a story or two from a customer that makes it all worth while. During the first rummage after my mom passed away, a lady bought a flower arrangement and said she was going to put it on the grave of her son who died in active duty. Those are the moments that make me proud to call myself a rummage sale-ist!

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