Mar 21, 2013

Tips for a Kick-Ass Rummage Sale

Yep, things like your prized Star Trek cookie jar
bring all the boys to the yard (sale).
Now that it is finally spring, it's time to start planning your kick-ass rummage sale. A rummage sale is a great way to reduce your stuff and increase your cash (whether you need it to pay down your debt, or bulk up your emergency fund. Or just pay cash for your summer vacation). Last summer B and I had a really, really, really successful rummage sale. Like almost $1,000 successful. We did some specific things that I think made it especially lucrative. If you are planning to downsize your stuff collection through a rummage sale this summer, feel free to swipe any of these ideas.

1. We went through our entire house of stuff (clothing, kitchen, antiques, furniture, tools, storage, collections) as though we would be moving in less than a year (who knew that would turn out to be true?). Even things we had been given as gifts weren't safe. We felt that if we didn't use the item enough to warrant packing it up and moving it across the country, or if we were saving it "just in case," it should go to a new home. Because of our commitment to really get rid of a lot, we had a lot of cool items in the sale.

2. We invited a friend and her family to sell at the sale. In exchange, my friend helped me set up, tend to, and take down the sale. Not only did this help make the work of a sale more manageable and fun, it turned out that she was a natural salesperson who helped a lot of items out the door. I couldn't have done it without her (and wouldn't have wanted to).

3. We made really distinct directional signs. We got this idea from a friend who linked us to an online list of things to do to have a great sale. We used red posterboard, which stood out from the crowd of rummage sale signs.

4. We made a tumblr site (B's idea) that we posted to daily for a couple of weeks leading up to the sale. We promoted that site numerous times through facebook, craigslist, and a listserv at B's workplace. We put up a new and quirkily-written craigslist ad every couple of days to keep people's interest and stay on their radar. Here is the tumblr site we created. Lots of people who came to the sale commented on the site, so I think it did its job. In my opinion, this was the most important action we took.

At the end of the second day, we had more room in our house, less stuff to dust, and extra money in our pockets. Plus, a lot of items got a second chance in someone else's home. A perfect (if exhausting) way to spend a weekend for a green gazelle like me!

Do you have any creative ideas to make a rummage sale more successful?


  1. I'm planning a garage sale for this spring with Susan - so these tips and reminders will come in handy. Also - that jar currently sits in the sun next to some plants above my microwave. :)

  2. I'm so happy the star trek jar found a good home :) And seriously, that tumblr site really helped build interest. We posted a few new things each day. But another really important thing was that my friend would encourage people by talking up some of the items or finding a complementary item to point out. Get someone who likes to talk to people to sit with you - it makes a huge difference, especially if you are an introvert like me. Good luck with your sale!