Planning a city-wide garage sale can take time and energy. Sometimes, time and energy are precisely the things in short supply. The upside is, that having a “sure thing” strategy at the beginning of your process, can save you a lot of headaches later on. So once you’ve decided to plan a sale in the first place, the next step is deciding just what type of city-wide garage sale would fit your city best.
Here are 4 tried and tested formats for a successful city-wide sale:
- The Long Distance Garage Sale
One of the most engaging garage sale formats follows a trail. Starting at one point of the municipality, often in rural communities, individual homes hold sales along a geographical route. Garage sale trails spanning from 50 to even 100 miles give shoppers an outlet to not only buy, but also an opportunity to explore. The 60-mile Root River Trail and 100-mile Lake Pepin River Trail are great examples of long distance garage sales in the United States. The Lake Pepin Trail spans two different states and helps driving shoppers follow the trail with the use of signage and pink balloons or ribbons.
- The Trunk Sale
Perhaps the most inventive city-wide garage sale is the trunk sale; an ideal way to cut down on venue costs and limit daily travel time for eager shoppers. The trunk sale uses a parking lot or open field as a venue and encourages community members to park their cars and sell goods either directly from their trunks or from tables beside their cars. The sale in Central Okanagan, BC or Britain’s boot sales are both excellent examples.
- Designated Location
The city-wide garage sale with a venue or designated location is arguably the most time-consuming to coordinate. And within this format there are two different types of sales: the indoor venue and the outdoor venue. If deciding between the two, consider the following: the indoor sale has proven extremely successful. Austin, Texas held their first city-wide garage sale in 1977 in an old WWII aircraft hangar. Since then, the event has turned into a country-wide event, where antique collectors from across the United States (and sometimes from across the world) meet to buy and sell one-of-a-kind vintage items and antiques. An indoor venue also helps avoid your sale being affected by unpleasant and unpredictable weather.
On the other hand, outdoor sales in public spaces, while subject to unpredictable weather, are much cheaper and easier to coordinate. Vendors set up tables, similar to an outdoor market, and shoppers are free to casually browse through aisles and rows of used goods.
*TIP: on all of your outreach material for outdoor sales, mention that the event will take place “rain or shine”. This way, if you do end up catching an unlucky weather day, your shoppers and vendors will not be confused on the morning of the event.
Probably the most common type of garage sale is the curbside sale. This is a day or weekend event, where vendors from across the community sell goods from the comfort of their own driveways or home fronts. Buyers walk or drive from garage sale to garage sale and individual homeowners are often not the only people involved. Multi-family complexes and non-profit groups sometimes get in the mix too, engaging people in the community far and wide. The city puts out a list of addresses participating in the sale weeks before it’s date, and on the day of the event, shoppers hit the ground running. Great examples of curbside city-wide sales are those in Roseville, Minnesota and Burnaby, BC.
The title “City-wide garage sale” is already taken! The event in Austin, Texas has trademarked the term. Here are some alternative names you can use for your event:
- Community-wide garage sale
- Trunk sale/Trail sale
- (name of city)-wide garage sale
- Town-wide garage sale
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