We hold a rummage sale fundraiser once a year and last year we made $2000 on Friday and $1000 on Saturday. We live in the Utah desert that can be fickle at times, so we do not hold it outside. You never know how hot or if it will be raining. Besides indoors will allow you to set it all up without someone trying to run off with it.

The call is put out through ads (some will run them for free, being a charity item) and items are collected for about 2 months. By this time we have asked for a free storage room.

The people who donate the space get a thank-you letter from the organization (in this case our shelter) for the donation of the space. The owner is then able to take that amount of the storage off his taxes. Win-win for both, because if the empty room is just that, empty, he gets nothing for it, this way he gets at least a tax break.

As the donations come in to the shelter, the volunteers go through everything and throw away the trash (people love to give you trash, it truly amazes me, not saleable things, trash.) Then the stuff is taken to storage. A moving truck (UHaul) is usually lined up (a donation of course) to haul the stuff to the sale site).

A few weeks before the sale, local business owners are contacted who have empty buildings. Every year we have been able to use one, as a donation, a different one each time. You will be responsible to get the utilities turned on, this again may be a donation. You will also have to be sure that the shelter or organization has liability insurance. This is a small town of about 5,000; the people for the most part are generous. Then your sale items are brought to the location about 1 week before. Last year I was able to get banquet tables from where I work (as a donation, of course) to use at the sale. We had over 15 large tables. The itms are sorted and priced and the volunteers are allowed first crack at the goodies to buy before the general public gets there as a thank you for their help. They still pay the same as the public, they just get first choice.

During the rummage collections, letters and calls are made to the local radio and tv stations to do a community service announcement for the sale. These are FCC regulated and HAVE to do community service things, so they will announce it for you if you get it to them in time. Some need over a month to get it together.

An ad is placed in the local paper for the days of the sale and in the “What’s happening” around town. Most papers will have that in the community offerings sections for free. Be sure to advertise your sale as Friday, June 15, etc. Then place another one for Saturday, June 16, etc. They have proven that people will flock to a sale the first day, but don’t want to go the second as they think the good stuff will be taken. If you advertise it as two different sales, you will get the second day people who normally wouldn’t come.

You will also need the local businesses to donate things for you, like the local grocery store for plastic bags. You will need boxes for people to haul their treasures away as well as boxes for packing up the things you did not sell. Be sure to line up a local charity to give them your ‘leftovers’. We have several Animal Groups in the area and one will take all our leftover books for their annual book sale. They make about $3000 a year just on used books and the sale is only one weekend! Our now defunct Humane Society lets us use their clothing racks.

Look around, there will be someone who will let you use things for the sale as long as they are given back in good condition and you thank them in person and write letters of gratitude. During our sale, we have a poster with the names of all the generous people who helped put the sale on. No one reads it except for the donors, but that is the important part.

When the sale is over, the stuff must be out of the building and the building cleaned up the very next day. You must make it like you were never there. Then the letters of gratitude are sent out for tax purposes and the items are given to the charities. If you are good and conscientious, you can do it again the next year and use the same people.

Posted on 17 August 2005

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