Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tips for a successful fundraising garage sale

Earlier this summer we had a giant fundraising garage sale. We asked for donations from our friends and family and they passed along the message and we had random strangers calling us telling us they had items for us to sell! It was definitely one of the hardest and most time-consuming fundraisers we could have done but so worth it in the end. We made over $2,500 and were able to cover a giant payment that was due around the same time! So, here are a few tips and tricks for anyone who is thinking about conducting their own garage sale fundraiser!

1. Pre-price! Do not wait until you're setting up to price everything. We priced 90% of our stuff and left the big pieces that were in storage until the morning of. It was chaos to get everything set up and then priced and stuff was dusty and needed to be wiped down and I wanted to just sit for five minutes. If it's big and you're storing it where you won't get to it until the sale, price it as you're putting it away. I read another blog that suggested big tags for big items and I 100% agree. If it's a couch, use an entire sheet of paper. People driving by will see it and people won't have to search all over for a tiny little dot.

2. Don't shoot a wedding the day before for 15 hours. We're crazy. By the time we went to bed on Saturday night, we had been awake for 36-hours straight. I'm still recovering.

3. When you ask for donations, be specific about the things you don't want. I'm sure there's a kind way to say, "Please don't give me used underwear and your broken garbage."

4. People will give you their used underwear and broken garbage.

5. Offer to pick up donations! This was our biggest ally. We had access to my dad's truck so we were able to pick up big items. We let people dictate our pickups but it would probably be less stressful and more organized if you gave specific dates and times when you are able to, especially if you need to rent or borrow someone's vehicle.

6. Yes, this is a fundraiser for a good cause. No, people do not care. People would barter over a whole dollar even after we told them about our adoption. I have a hundred stories but here's two of my favorites:
a) A guy asked the price on a brand new Hurley kid's hoodie. I said $3. He responded, "Ten cents?" NO, GUY!
b) A lady asked how much the shoes were ($3/ea for most), then proceeded to fill an entire plastic bin with 15 or so pairs of shoes and ask for all of them for $5. YES. I KNOW. She gave me some story about how she sends them to kids in third world countries and it costs her a lot of money to do so and so I needed to basically give them to her so I offered 3 pairs for $5 and she agreed then proceeded to take a $1 tag off something else and put it on a pair of nice soccer cleats and tell me she'd do 3 pairs for $3.
If you're not comfortable bartering with people or pricing items as people are paying, ask someone to take that job! I'm the most uncomfortable with money (and bad at math) so people would bring stuff to me and I would say, "A quarter!" All the time! Like, we would have made $5 if I ran the whole thing! So, our friend Nick took over and was great at keeping the price where it was originally labeled and bartering when he needed to. I'm so thankful he was there for that because it definitely took a lot of stress off of me.

7. ASK. FOR. HELP. Are you like me and hate asking for help? Well, get over it, cupcake, and ask for it! Be specific in your needs, not just telling people, "I don't know! If you want to stop by, feel free!" Ask people to help price or set up for a few hours or tear down or hang signs or be available to carry heavy items. People want to help. LET THEM. You will straight up die if you think you can do it all by yourself.

8. Set up an end date for donations. I thought I'd be taking things up until the day before. Because I didn't realize that people will fit 943 of the tiniest things in one box. It's too much work, especially if you a) have any kind of life or b) want to sleep ever again. Stop taking donations on a specific day and announce it! We had people offering stuff the week of and it would have been great to make more money but it wasn't worth the stress of accumulating more stuff in my already stuffed house + pricing and hauling.

9. Try to be organized but you probably won't be. My plan was to take over a giant room in my basement. I received one very large donation of basically an entire house-full of stuff and tried to keep boxes organized so all of my kitchen stuff could be together. It lasted two hours and then it was just boxes upon boxes upon boxes. I did try and keep what was in the box organized but it took forever to set up, had I been organized in the beginning or not. PLUS, I didn't even haul the stuff to my parent's (where we held the sale), so it would have been completely disorganized in the move.

10. There is absolutely no good way to display clothes. We had tons and tons of baby clothes so I separated it by size and put it in boxes. There was no way I could hang up 75 newborn onesies. I mean, it was just out of hand. Hardly anyone looked through the clothes so now I have like 10 giant tubs of baby clothes in my basement because my plan is to someday sell them online.

11. You will be so surprised at what sells and what doesn't. Someone gave us some broken furniture that I had planned on fixing but then obviously life happened so I didn't. Someone still bought it. Someone bought an upright freezer that didn't work to use as storage. People did not want computers or printers or TVs and I was sure that those things would sell the fastest. You really have no idea what people are looking for so don't throw away the things you deem as junk because sometimes those are the fastest things that go!

12. Have a plan for the extras. Some donation stores like Goodwill will pick up your donations but only do it on specific days. Our garage sale was on Saturday and the truck only picked up donations on Tuesdays. When they came they only had room for half our stuff so we still had to haul a load that filled up my dad's truck and our car. It sat in my parent's driveway until we could haul it off so it would have probably been smart to just make a giant FREE sign and let people take it off our hands.

My biggest tip is to just ask for help! Get a rockstar team together to set up and tear down and help you greet the millions of people who are going to stop by. You're going to be exhausted no matter how organized and careful you are with planning. Good luck!