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How to Host a Rummage Sale

Updated on April 25, 2013
The beginning of a successful rummage sale. Not even fully set up yet.
The beginning of a successful rummage sale. Not even fully set up yet. | Source

How to Rid Your Life of Junk and Make a Few Bucks Doing So

A rummage sale is not an easy event to hold. In order to host a successful rummage sale one must set up in the yard or a garage, properly communicate with strangers, be personable, become a good sales person, be organized, learn how to price things accordingly, and so much more. Also, to host a rummage sale that produces a positive outcome (for everyone involved) it takes time, preparation, energy, and the decluttering of ones home. Hosting a rummage sale can be a very daunting project for the fact that it could either be very successful (in aiding one in riding themselves of unwanted belongings and by making extra money) or it can be highly unsuccessful (one could put a lot of time and effort in setting up a rummage sale and not seeing a turnout). If one does put the time and effort on a nice day to set up a rummage sale, one could possibly rid themselves of the clutter in their homes and make a profit. After conclusion of this article one will have an understanding of how to properly host a rummage sale for the best possible turnout. One must remember that just because a rummage sale is unsuccessful once does not mean that it will be unsuccessful twice, so one must not become discourage but instead where one fails one can learn how to succeed.

Do you have a lot of clutter in your home?

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Declutter Your Home

The first step of hosting any rummage sale is declutter the home. First, one must clean, organize, and remove unwanted belonging from the home in order to have a rummage sale that offers a variety of different belongings that others may want or need.

How to Advertise for Your Rummage Sale

Without advertising the pending rummage sale, the sale will most likely be unsuccessful. Advertising is key when hosting a rummage sale, this is due to the fact that a rummage sale that allows strangers to rummage is more successful than those who only allow friends and family to rummage. The more advertisement (and a variety of advertisement) one uses, the larger the turnout will be, ultimately creating more profit and riding oneself from the clutter in the home.

There are so many varieties when it comes to advertising for the pending rummage sale. These include (but are not limited to)

  • Social networking sites: Use Facebook to make an open event and invite everyone. Allow friends to invite friends. Make sure to post all of the information needed such as the address, directions, days and times, etc...

  • Colorful and large signs: Create large and colorful signs to hang around the neighborhood. Make them large enough for people to see and read from a distance. Make sure to hang signs all over with arrows leading people directly to the rummage sale. Be sure to include the address of the sale on each sign.

  • Word of mouth: Tell everyone and tell everyone to tell everyone. The more people that hear it from word of mouth are more likely to attend. Also be sure to tell all attendees (including strangers) that it is open and they are allowed to tell others (whom they know) about the rummage sale.

  • Newspaper: The local newspaper (or surrounding newspapers) are a great way to get the word out about a rummage sale. This way of advertisement cost a bit of money, but the more people who know about the sale the more likely one is to make a profit even if this form is used.

  • Other means of advertisement: There are a lot of other ways to advertise. Be creative, find ways of free advertisement or cheap advertisement. The more people who show up, the more money one makes.

  • Friends and family (and their friends and family, and so forth): Don't forget about inviting friends and family, and tell them to invite their friends and family, etc. Friends and family are great people to invite since there will be friendly faces in attendance and they will help spread the word!

Don't be Afraid of Strangers

Strangers are key in hosting a successful and profitable rummage sale. Be sure to make the sale/event open to the public and openly invite strangers to rummage through the belongings that are no longer necessary or needed within the home. Make strangers feel like guests and comfortable while they are rummaging. If strangers feel welcome and comfortable the more likely they will stay to rummage longer, and the more likely they will be to negotiate and purchase.

Treat Rummagers as Guests Not Pests

Offer all rummagers and peepers free refreshments and treats (make sure that the treats and refreshments served are appropriate for all ages and genders). Offering free food and drinks is another way to draw people in. Make sure refreshments and snacks are advertised and people may come specifically for the free food, but they will be forced into at least looking into your unwanted belongings, and hopefully will make some purchases.

Free refreshments and treats (iced tea, juice, iced coffee, cereal treats, and two types of no bake cookies).
Free refreshments and treats (iced tea, juice, iced coffee, cereal treats, and two types of no bake cookies). | Source

Be Friendly and Personable

Be sure to greet people as the come and look around, make small conversation (without crowding them), and make sure to thank them as they leave. If people want to rummage and not converse, make sure to give them space. The more trust and space that is given, the more comfortable they will feel and they will be more likely to make purchases. Remember rummagers are guest at the rummage event and they are the ones providing the favor by riding one of unwanted things while exchanging money for these items.

How to Set Up Your Rummage Sale

When setting up a rummage sale one must be organized. The more organized one is when setting up a rummage sale the more successful others will be when rummaging through the unwanted belongings and the more likely people will stay longer to “shop” at the sale.

When setting up the rummage sale, think of how department stores are set up, with aisles and rows and multiple sections. Separate the clothing from the dishes, and the dishes from the furniture, and the furniture from the entertainment, ect... By separating the sale into “departments” the rummagers will not become overwhelmed, will be able to shop with ease, and will know where to go and look for the items that they want and need.

Clothing (all sexes and ages)
Clothing (all sexes and ages) | Source
Shoes, accessories, and new/never worn and more expensive clothing
Shoes, accessories, and new/never worn and more expensive clothing | Source
Baby supplies
Baby supplies | Source
Jewelery | Source
entertainment | Source
Kitchenware | Source
Miscellaneous | Source

Keep the Sale Organized

Hosting a rummage sale is like working a retail job. Make an effort to keep things organized after people have torn through it, leaving messes after they are long gone. Make sure the last costumer experiences the same organization, convenience, and motif as the first. Keeping items organized and aesthetically pleasing will ensure that more rummagers will come in and stay ultimately making more purchases.

How to Price for the Sale: Keep Prices Low

Make sure to keep prices on the lower side of the spectrum. If the goal is to rid the home of unwanted belongings and make some extra money, one will be more successful if the prices are lower so that rummagers will be interested in buying more. Also, by keeping prices low people will not waste time by bartering and will have more time to rummage and stuff bags full of things that they want or need.

Do Not Put a Price Tag on Everything

One should not put a price tag on all items (unless one just wants to get rid of all items very quickly), the reason for leaving price tags off of larger items is because a person may make an offer on an item that is more substantial than the price one has thought. Keeping price tags off of items also causes the rummager to interact with the seller and it is quite possible that the rummager can find even more goodies that they were not aware of before.

If It's Free the More Rummagers One Will See

Even if a rummage sale is properly advertised, there will still be some people who will only know about the sale by walking or driving by, so if one has free merchandise on the side of the street more people are more than likely to stop to check the free bin, and once they are roped in the will continue to see what one has marked for sale. All free items should be just as organized as the rest of the rummage sale. Make sure the free items are also in decent condition, because if rummagers realize that the free things are in decent condition they are more likely to rummage through the items that are up for sale.

Free things. Stacks of egg cartons (for local chicken farmers) and a box of miscellaneous things to rummage through.
Free things. Stacks of egg cartons (for local chicken farmers) and a box of miscellaneous things to rummage through. | Source

Stay Open Later than Most Would

Stay outside and open to the public for as long as possible, people are always happy when they can come back later to retrieve items and pick yard sale items up after a long day of their personal activities. The longer one stays open to the public the more money one will make and the more unwanted items one will rid the home of, making money and decluttering ones life.

Have Leftovers? Do it all Over in the Morning

If the rummage sale was fairly successful and there are still items left over, host another sale the next day (or the next weekend). This will allow for more rummagers and even repeat costumers. If the rummagers were content with the purchases made, they are more than likely to refer others to your sale, so having a second event will allow for new rummagers to come in. If rummagers are happy they will probably even inquire if you will be out the next day, this is usually due to the fact that they know someone who would also be happy with the merchandise that is provided.

Remember Weekdays are Not Always Weak Days

It is important to remember that if one sets up a rummage sale during a weekday that that does not mean that one will have a weak sales day. Sometimes when people are on the route home from work and they see free things on the side of the road, they may stop by to rummage through the items that are listed as free, and if they continue on to notice a person is selling other items they may even spend the cash in their pockets on items listed at low prices. There are also many people that are unemployed, homemakers, stay-at-home mothers, students, etc that walk (or drive) throughout the neighborhood that may see an item that catches their eye forcing them to stop and look and what is being offered and hopefully purchase small (or large) items.

For the Unsuccessful Host

Not all rummage sales are successful during the first attempt, so do not become discouraged. Some days and times are more successful than others. So if the first attempt is a failure, iron out flaws, and try again the next day or during a weekend or holiday (such as memorial day, labor day, or even the fourth of July). If the sale is unsuccessful for a multiple day attempt, throw a private party, and invite clothes friends and family member to rummage under the influence of alcohol and ask for donations on clothing and accessories, and allow people to take them for free. Price all furniture and larger items at low prices to encourage friends and family to purchase items for a serious deal. If the sale is unsuccessful after multiple attempts donate and/or sell all items to local thrift and second hands stores. Donate to local homeless and womens shelters. These places are more than happy to take all unwanted items.

Would you consider hosting a rummage sale?

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    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      You've covered a lot of ground here! Thanks for all the great ideas and tips! up+

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      You've done a very thorough job here. Great job! The refreshments are a nice touch.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for these tips. Unfortunately, I suffer from "nice guy" syndrome.

    • JamiJay profile image

      Jami Johnson 5 years ago from Somewhere amongst the trees in Vermont.

      Thanks for voting and sharing! I appreciate it!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful hub which I am sure has covered every aspect of a rummage sale.

      Voted up and shared.



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