Lessons Learned from a Mammoth Charity Garage Sale…

The nonprofit counseling center that I helped to start in 2015 is now in its 4th year! In fact Compassion Counseling Center is nearing the 4200 hour mark for number of sessions it has provided to our area citizens.

Unfortunately, there is still a gap in what our clients often can pay and what it costs us to provide an hour of therapy. We need a total of about $ 6000, bare minimum, to cover this gap for 2019. We have chosen to never turn a client away because of an inability to pay because we believe that changing mindsets for the better is the key to improving life in our communities.

This past Saturday the small church that hosts Compassion out of pure kindness, Oakdale United Methodist Church, also hosted a massive garage sale for Compassion. The items offered for sale filled 4 Sunday School classrooms, 2 hallways and the entire Fellowship Hall. No…not kidding.

The weather did not cooperate; it poured down rain all day and often, I thought the sale’s patrons might blow away with the heavy gusts of winds that blew through Oakdale’s parking lot. Thankfully, this did not deter our customers. It was a busy day! And here is what I learned from the biggest garage sale I’ve ever helped to organize:

  1. Next time rent a storage building for all of the contributions.
  2. Scratch # 1. Rent a warehouse.
  3. Host the sale at the warehouse.
  4. Don’t have a garage sale in a church the Saturday before Palm Sunday.
  5. Cut off sale item donations a week before the sale.
  6. Expect donations right up until the sale despite # 5.
  7. Don’t have a garage sale the weekend before taxes are due. Can you say extension?
  8. Expect a few more donations if the pastor is utilizing Marie Kondo’s book as a sermon series. (He was!)
  9. Scratch # 8. Expect a LOT more.
  10. Develop “departments” for your sale at the outset–men’s clothing, women’s clothing, children’s clothing, children’s toys and equipment, large items, and housewares.
  11. Scratch # 10 because the departments you will probably need will be different once you see the donations.
  12. The easiest way to move a contractor bag full of clothes is to fling it over your shoulder.
  13. While doing # 12 it will be impossible to resist the urge to yell, “Ho, Ho, Ho! Haaaappy Easter!”
  14. The urge in # 13 will occur about 50 more times.
  15. One plea for tables on Facebook yields 20 tables. No…not kidding.
  16. A visit to the local rental place will yield 9 more.
  17. The rental tables are made of the heaviest wood known to man.
  18. You can put a pool filter, a pool table and a partridge in a pear tree on the rental tables.
  19. Plastic drink cups with lids multiply like rabbits.
  20. People will buy plastic drink cups with lids as if they have an expiration date.
  21. Consider having a stock room for women’s clothing, kid stuff, t-shirts, scarves, china, and plastic drink cups.
  22. Double the size of the stock room to accommodate grocery bags and empty boxes.
  23. Keep some empty boxes in each department so that shoppers can fill them with their finds.
  24. If the start time is 8 am, people will be in line at the door by 7:00 am.
  25. If it’s raining, people will be in line at the door by 7:15 am.
  26. Hire an army of volunteers.
  27. Have them hang clothes for 2 weeks; sort clothes; fold clothes; check purses for leftover change, cash and gift cards; make pricing signs; make directional signs; make advertising signs; and impersonate the Easter version of Santa.
  28. Have 2 good “money people” deal with tallying up sales, wrapping fragile items and bagging up the purchases.
  29. Have a sales manager handle your large item department.
  30. Put some younger moms in charge of kid stuff.
  31. The younger moms actually know what the kid stuff does. I don’t.
  32. Be shocked at the persona you take on when someone wants something that is actually worth more than a plastic drink cup.
  33. Negotiate like Mike and Frank.
  34. Greet everyone with a smile, even the people who also negotiate like Mike and Frank.
  35. Keep moving items around so the new shoppers can find them.
  36. Have the strange feeling that you have seen the “new shoppers” before. Hmmm….
  37. Be surprised at what sells and what doesn’t. Apparently, plastic drink cups are more valuable than gold or silver and silver needs polishing, which makes it totally value-less.
  38. Everyone must use paper plates now.
  39. Your favorite item at the garage sale will be something your mother bought for your children…at a garage sale.
  40. Hire an army to clean up afterward.
  41. Bag and box everything left over.
  42. Call 8 people to take away the excess.
  43. Four people will show up to take away the excess in good weather.
  44. Two will show up in bad weather.
  45. Those two will need to make multiple trips because they don’t believe in the excess you have.
  46. Be surprised by the number of people who show up to prep for the sale.
  47. Be thankful for those who show up merely to bring you your favorite junk food as you prep for the sale.
  48. Be stunned when you lose four pounds while on your “Garage Sale Diet.”
  49. Be shocked by the number of people who show up to help on the actual day of the sale.
  50. Be surprised, stunned, shocked and thankful for the people who stay to help clean up after the sale.
  51. Smile as you realize that $ 2100 worth of counseling was just given to clients who can’t afford counseling by all the people who bought plastic drink cups and even more.

You’re the best! I’m overwhelmed with gratitude at the kind community I’m blessed to call home.

Weren’t able to be at the sale? Want to help us raise the rest of that $ 3900? Go here. Many thanks to you, as well.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 at 5:09 pm and is filed under Lessons Learned. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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