How to Set Up a Rummage Sale

rummage sale

Turn your trash into treasure!

Don’t throw that thing just yet –

. . . you might still turn it into cash!

Last month, I did a “rush” rummage sale in our neighborhood and raised an amount enough for a little shopping. It all started when I cleaned our house and found out that my family actually hoards tons of old but still useable clothes, toys, bags, and shoes! In fact, most of those clothes are still very “decent-looking” but were just either too small already and outdated that we’re not using it anymore. And since I’m kind of poor during those times, I’ve decided to put up a little rummage sale by the end of the week.

Fortunately, my rummage sale was successful. I was thankful to my family for helping me out and for donating more old clothes to me. I have to admit, throwing a rummage sale requires a lot of sweat, patience, and muscles – but in the long run, the reward is so satisfying!

vernacular design

Image by Joseph Robertson via Flickr

Yes, hoard it first.

So you want to have a rummage sale, eh? I’m not being sarcastic but yeah – unless you have an almost towering pile of useful junk collected, you aren’t ready yet. Do you think you can lure in customers (who are usually passers-by) if you only have ten items displayed? Nada. Think of really huge collections – like a trunk of clothes, a big box full of shoes, a bag collection that’ll make Paris H. envious, and a truckload of knick-knacks. If you’re cooking up your first ever rummage/garage sale, hoard things first. You can also set a particular target date to have your sale to give you ample time to prepare for it. Be sure to take advantage of seasons too – December is usually the most advisable time for rummage sales! Anyway, let me share these few tips and tricks on how to set up a rummage sale and turn your trash into treasure!


thrifted yarn

Image by smallestbones via Flickr

  • Group similar items. After hoarding up all those pre-loved items, the next thing you should do is to group together similar items. For instance, bags, shoes, adult’s clothes, kid’s items, sandals, sneakers, jeans, tops, etc. should be grouped respectively.
  • Classify. After grouping together similar items, it’s time to put your assessment skills to the test – you should separate the items according to their condition. New-looking pieces and branded ones should be grouped together and labeled as class A; fairly used ones as class B; and obviously old and worn-out pieces as class C. For severely damaged ones, I suggest you throw them directly into the trash bin to avoid being labeled as — “Garbage Seller.” On the other hand, you can also recycle the damaged item. Classify the items will help you on deciding their should-be prices.
  • Decide. Repair or throw away? Sometimes, there are items which are still adorable but have slight damages. If the damage is just a minor tear, something that can be settled with a few stitches – then you can repair it. However, if the item’s damage is too massive, then you should spare yourself from labor and throw it. Too lazy to do fixes? Don’t worry, you can skip repairing the item and just sell it for a low price. However, based from my experience, only a few people actually settle for damaged items even at a low price (unless it’s branded).


Price sticker

Image by chrisinplymouth via Flickr

  • Set the price right. Pricing your items is a bit tricky – you must really exercise what I call “price scrutiny”. The first thing to remember in placing the price is to base it according to the condition of the item. If you did my previous tip, then this job must be easier for you. Class A items should price higher than the rest since they look good as new. You can raise the price on branded pieces eventhough they’re used already – most customers do prefer buying these things; just do make sure that they’re not yet damaged. Class C items should be the lowest-priced ones and Class B items’ prices can be anywhere between Class A’s and C’s.
  • Tag it. I know this may sound meticulous but I suggest that you place a price tag for each item that you have. Don’t ever settle with box labels alone. Customers usually jumble the items up and you’ll never know if your items are still in their correct boxes! I painstakingly did this pricing on my own. I used a masking tape and a black marker.
  • Don’t set the digits too low. Be kind to yourself. Although you’re selling old stuffs already, never set the prices too low! Chances are, you wouldn’t profit so well. Remember: customers love to haggle.
  •  Ask yourself. If you’re really not sure of what price you’re going to place upon a particular item, do ask yourself this simple question: “If I were the customer – am I willing to buy this item for (state your amount here)?” Plus, asking suggestions from your family members helps in the decision making too.

Location & Advertising

P6263506  charity jumble sale,

Image by badgreeb fattkatt via Flickr

  • Space is important. Be sure to have your display settled in an area not too wide nor too narrow for a garage/rummage sale. Customers would love to have people around, but not too much that they can’t even get in. On the other hand, if the area’s too wide, the whole rummage sale’s set would look too uncrowded and empty – thus giving an impression to passers-by that the items on sale aren’t really interesting.
  • Ventilation. Make sure that the place you’ve chosen is not as hot as an oven. Otherwise, you wouldn’t get any customers!
  • Secure permits. There are places that require permits for rummage sales, be sure to ask your local office and do process the necessary permits asap (if needed). Good thing rummage sales in our area don’t need permits anymore.
  • Spread the word. You can make a big banner weeks before your target rummage date so that people will get excited and will prepare moolah for your sale. Plus, sending messages to your friends via SMS or social networking sites is also a good way to advertise! Just keep the rumor mill going about your BIG sale and you’ll be surprised your whole neighborhood’s there for the opening!

Final Note

On the day of the sale, be sure to prepare yourself physically because you’ll definitely burn some energy up! Chug up a lot of water to keep you well-hydrated to speak to customers and deal with their endless questions and haggling. Be earth friendly too and use reusable shopping bags or brown bags instead of plastic when handing out items to your customers. And lastly, don’t forget to share your blessings. Rummage sales are usually done for charity reasons – so if yours went successful, donate a portion of the proceeds to any charitable institution you like.

Well, I think I’ve wrapped up all I wanted to say. If you’ve got any questions, you can send me a quick comment and I’d be happy to help.

Rummage Sale!



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