Two sure signs that spring has officially sprung are the appearance of dandelions and rummage sales.

Rummage sales can be held almost anywhere with a few exceptions. Some housing developments are totally against such things and ban them completely, while others will allow a limited number of sales at certain times of the year. Some folks will rent storage units for their extra ‘stuff’ and host their sale at the business site if the owner allows, and many of them do allow such sales.

by Paula Vogelgesang

Paula Vogelgesang is the author of the monthly column "Pennywise", and is a monthly contributor to the Farm And Livestock Directory. Email her at [email protected].  Please be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.

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A rummage sale is a great way to de-clutter your home of ‘stuff’ your family no longer needs or wants, while putting a few extra dollars in your pockets. Some of my super-organized friends continually purge dresser drawers, closets, kitchen cupboards, toy boxes, garage shelves and basement storage bins and then host annual or semi-annual sales. Some even price things as they box them up and can literally have yard sale ‘at the drop of a box’!

I am the self-professed 'queen of disorganization’. I do try to keep things where I can find them when needed, with just a little bit of digging around. I also must confess that I have never had a rummage sale. By the time my family is ready to part with anything, said item has already been used, reused, and is beyond fixing!

My organized friends have shared with me a few simple rules they follow for a successful sale, and the first order of business is to check with local authorities to see if there are any city/town/county regulations regarding parking, length of sale, permits, etc.

Make sure you have enough ‘stuff’ to hold a successful sale. This may mean asking friends and relatives to join you so you can draw a good crowd. Make sure they agree to be part of the help that day. You need someone to handle the money (you’ll need cash for this), and decide if you will accept personal checks. You will also need someone to make sure people stay out of ‘off limits’ areas, and someone (or two) to help refold things that get messed up.

Set a date, time and place for the sale. Perhaps someone’s garage, front or back yard or patio–somewhere dry if the weather does not cooperate. Arrange for racks for clothing to be hung; some people set up a ‘try on’ room by hanging a couple of sheets in a corner. Make sure you have tables for displaying items and bags for purchases.

Allow enough space/time for folks to get their things priced and ready to sell. I would suggest putting small toys (like Lego’s) in plastic buckets with lids so they don’t spill out–the same with blocks, small cars and trucks, other miscellaneous items. Silverware and kitchen gadgets can be bundled with masking tape that doubles as a price tag.

The best time to host a rummage sale is on a weekend that doesn’t conflict with a holiday or a weekend filled with special local events that could keep crowds elsewhere.

Signs are very important. You know where you live, but most other people don’t! Put signs up at all intersections with arrows where people should turn, and be sure to mark the house/location as well.  Make the signs big enough to read from a vehicle. (I can’t tell you how many signs I’ve tried to read while driving but the print is just too small.)

Decide if you will allow folks in your home to use the bathroom. If you allow people in the house, you will need someone inside at all times to monitor. You don’t want people wandering from room to room picking things up that you want to stay put. Most just lock the house up during the sale.

Mark the prices. Be sure to mark them nice and large for those of us with older eyes. You want to get rid of this stuff, so price accordingly. The best sales I’ve seen are at about 25% of actual cost, and many times much less. You don’t want to pack all of this stuff up again and have another sale a few months down the road. If all else fails, put it in a box marked FREE and someone will surely take it off of your hands.

Sometimes local organizations will host a bake sale in conjunction with a big rummage sale, which is an added draw to the site. One of my neighbors used to make heavenly raised donuts for the bake sale–you had to get there early to just get a smell! She and her friends always had a large sale day.

After the sale is over, pack up anything that is left and either store it or donate it to a charity group. The choice is yours.

Good luck!