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How to have a successful yard or garage sale

A bit of preparation, and business savvy, can make a world of difference

Summer is rapidly approaching, and odds are you’ve still got some stuff lying around from spring cleaning that you’re not sure what to do with.

Gently used power tools, heirloom furniture, old DVDs and electronics, and all manner of items collecting dust in your basement are ripe for selling to neighbours, friends and passersby – why not have a garage sale?

These time-tested, often impromptu, community get-togethers are the perfect opportunity to score old treasures, get to know your neighbours or even make a bit of cash. Not only that, but with the ever-increasing focus on eco-friendliness and conscientious consumerism, garage sales are an excellent way to keep forgotten possessions out of the landfill.

After all, the old adage remains true: one person’s trash might be another’s treasure.

Flipping old stuff you have no use for isn’t a new concept, but it seems we’re in the midst of a garage sale renaissance. Now, communities frequently band together for garage sale “parades” – large-scale, neighborhood-wide affairs for those eager to either offload their junk or score killer deals. Those same communities are advocating for more thoughtfully organized sales, turning them into something grander than simply laying out stuff on the lawn in the hopes of getting some interest.

Following in the footsteps of famous events like the World’s Longest Yard Sale, which spans more than 1,000 kilometres across six American states, the Tuscany Residents Association (TRA) is holding its Giant Garage Sale June 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Marilyn Hess, spokesperson for the TRA, explains that this mass mobilization of sellers has the potential to effectively transform neighborhoods into massive pop-up malls for a matter of hours, or perhaps days.

“This is a one-stop shop that gives participants more exposure,” said Hess. “Consistent signage and the providing of maps encourages more people to make our community a destination spot. It is convenient and free.”

The result is a cohesive, community-forward event that feels more like a place to be than something people stumble across by accident.

This is a one-stop shop that gives participants more exposure. Consistent signage and the providing of maps encourages more people to make our community a destination spot. It is convenient and free.

The secrets to a successful sale
It might seem fairly straightforward to just throw stuff in front of the house and hope it’s enticing, but being a little more business savvy – and treating the front lawn as a storefront – can go a long way.

The TRA recommends taking initiative and being creative in the ways you cater to your “clients,” including:

  • Having a cash box prepared in advance.
  • Arranging and organizing everything neatly and in categories.
  • Putting prices on items so customers aren’t constantly asking for them.
  • Appealing to different demographics – for example, putting power tools and other equipment together in plain sight to cater to construction enthusiasts, or having a table full of free trinkets or toys for the kids.
  • Having enough items to keep people interested – the TRA recommends having at least enough items to fill one car space, although bigger is always better.
  • Being proactive! Have a power bar nearby to test out electrical equipment and small appliances, and organize potential items to sell for next year as you find them.

In short, you get out what you put in when it comes to this time-tested tradition.

Whether joining forces with neighbours or going it alone, giving someone else a chance to enjoy the items you no longer have a use for is always a good move, both for the environment and your wallet.

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