Garages are a popular place to hide clutter, especially when guests are about to arrive. The problem is once you stuff things in the garage, you forget what went in there and somehow they're forgotten. As Americans are prone to buying far more than we can use in a typical week, month or year, organizing and storing our belongings gets to be a real challenge.
Spring is a great time to gather all that clutter and get rid of things you haven't used in more than a year. The time spent de-cluttering the garage, closets and piles collecting in various rooms, will be earned back with the time you save because you can find things faster. The challenge is getting motivated to collect and dispose of things lost in your home, whether you donate them to a non-profit or hold a garage sale. Here are tips to inspire you to de-clutter and have fun at the same time!
What Does Your Dream Garage Look Like?
Close your eyes and imagine opening the garage door to your dream garage. What do you want to see? While we seldom put cars in the garage, we all dream of organized shelves along each garage wall. One section might have camping equipment, another sports gear and bikes, space for lawn furniture and a work area for gardening. My husband has the back wall for his workshop with tools, materials and more.
My clutter is in the garage along with piles of books and papers in other rooms. Your clutter might be in the laundry room, a spare bedroom or even the kitchen. You need a mental picture of how this space will look like after you clear out the clutter. It's this picture that will keep you going when you want to give up. Deciding what belongs in this space will also guide you as you sort out what stays or goes.
Make Your Garage Sale a Social Event
Everyone loves a party. You'll have more fun with a few friends and neighbors joining your garage sale. Neighbors are ideal as they can set up in their own driveway/garage. Multi-family yard sales attract more attention because there's more sale items. Some neighborhoods hold an annual yard sale the same time each year and everyone plans for it, making it a local happening!
There's magic in building a team as you're less likely to drop the ball due to other priorities. Pick your team wisely as you want to enjoy the time spent preparing for the big day. You also want people who are flexible as there are always last minute challenges to untangle and then it's fun to plan some type of celebration after the big sale.
Organizing Your Garage Sale
The most important decision is the date for your garage sale. The date gives everyone participating, a time line for gathering what they're going to sell. You'll want to assign roles to everyone participating – a role for preparation and another role for the day of the event. This time line will help you plan your garage sale:
- Organizing meeting (6 to 8 weeks before event) – so everyone can meet each other, agree on a date and volunteer for the different roles needed to make a successful, multi-family garage sale. When several families are sharing the same space, use colored labels to make it easy to track who's earned the money.
- Prepare advertising materials (4 to 6 weeks) – ad to run in local paper, flyers to post at local businesses and on phone poles. What works really well today is blogging that includes photos of items for sale in popular categories like children's toys and furniture.
Serious shoppers are known to arrive on some doorsteps as early as 7am. To avoid this, you can simply give street addresses and if needed, a range of house numbers. Tell people the houses will have green balloons outside at 8am.
- Advertising (4 weeks up to event) – share via emails, blogs and social media, community newspapers and pass out flyers within 10 mile radius. Some type of raffle will help attract more people.
- One week to go – is when people should move sale items to the site of the event, prepare food, get enough money to make change and collect bags for buyers to carry their purchases home. Sending out a checklist helps avoid last minute problems. Include everyone's cell phone numbers for staying in touch on sale day.
The big day is here and hopefully the weather is gorgeous so people want to get outside. If you're worried about rain, you can plan a rain date and include this information in your advertising.
- Arrange and price sale items by 8am for early visitors as these are your serious buyers.
- Offer drinks and small edibles as these encourage people to browse longer, increasing sales. You may have a group of scouts or a sports team who wants to raise money by selling drinks and that works well too. Help them plan their table, menu and signs.
- Set up and staff the checkout area with a money box (belt means you don't have to worry about walking around) and bags for packing things up. Ideally you'll have 2 people at every location and if not, make arrangements for someone to cover bio breaks.
- Pack up and deliver left over items to a local agency, as the purpose of your garage sale is to de-clutter your home. For years I've made this a rule and it works brilliantly.
Please share your best tips for a successful garage sale … with a comment below!
Celebrate Your Clean Home
Well maybe the house isn't as clean as normal because you've been collecting and sorting what to get rid of. With less stuff, you'll find it's easier to get the house cleaned up. Within 1 to 2 weeks, plan for everyone to gather and celebrate your success and pick a date for next years event. Jot down what you want to do differently and you'll look forward to this annual event for years to come.