yard sales

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Yard sale adventures

Written by on Jul 11, 2011

Awhile back, our friendly neighborhood weatherman predicted a nice weekend. Warm, but not too hot; a chance of a few thunderstorms; and oh, a ginormous yard sale in East Taunton.

The two days of our fundraising yard sale are always interesting. Last year's was held in the rain; this year, we endured acaterpillar invasion. They were everywhere — and I do mean EVERYWHERE. I spent most of the day walking around the sale doing my part to save the trees by squishing the caterpillars. I must have stepped on five hyndred of them, with my sister laughing at me every time I squished another one.

To hold these yard sales, we have braved monsoons (or at least it felt like one), blazing hot temperatures, the aforementioned caterpillars, and lots and lots of crazy people. But we have also had some really great stuff come out of it as well. Years ago, three neighbors we had never met came over to help; now they help out each year. The bikers from the "social club" lend us tables and check in to see how things are going.

One full garage

That's one full garage!

As you can see from the photo to the right (click for a larger view), the garage this year was filled to the brim with donations for the sale. Deirdre had to crawl out of the garage when we had packed almost everything in and then we filled up even that small space. I really hope that we do not need to get to the electrical panel in the back of the garage before the sale. If we do, we may be sitting in the dark for a few days!

In the end, it was all worth it. We saw plenty of friendly faces, turned one person's trash into another person's treasure — and, best of all, we raised $1,100!

Interested in holding your own yard sale? Read this checklist for tips to get you started.

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.

Yard sales in the rain

Written by on Jun 18, 2010

My sister Deirdre and I recently held our seventh annual fundraising yard sale. In the rain. And it was a huge success! We raised about $850. The weather was iffy for the whole weekend, so we waffled a bit about if we should go ahead with it or not. We decided to risk it.

There was lots of rain, thunder, lightning, wind, and a tornado watch. After about an hour and a half of torrential downpours, the skies cleared, and buyers descended on our sale in droves. We may have been the only yard sale that was crazy enough to go on that day. I bet over the two days of the sale, we saw at least a couple hundred people.

We collect donations all year from generous friends and family and store them in my garage. With that much commitment and so much stuff, there was no way that I wasn't having that sale! By the time our sale weekend rolled around, I couldn't even see most of the garage. Nine rows of boxes and storage tubs were stacked at least six high each. And this didn't count all the big stuff that was donated: a lawn mower, a dorm refrigerator, an air conditioner, an antique stove, bicycles, and more. Lots of people come to our yard sale every year and tell us that they love our sale and look for it when we advertise it in the local paper and on WickedLocal.com. It's nice to know that our hard work, and that of our "sales assistants" (parents and neighbors), is appreciated.

That first year we had the sale, I figured it was the only time we would do it. But when it worked out so well the first time, Deirdre wanted to know if I would do it again the next year. And so our tradition began of lots of hard work and logistical planning, but well worth it. As you can see from the pictures, we have a great time — even in the pouring rain.

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.

Fundraising Tip #1: Hold a garage sale

Written by on May 12, 2010

Although the distance of this year's MS Challenge Walk is 40% shorter than usual, the fundraising minimum remains at $1500. Veteran walkers makes this goal sound easy, but it can seem insurmountable to those who haven't achieved it before.

To help inspire you fundraise as creatively and effectively as possible, the Challenge Blog will post a different fundraising idea every Wednesday. Use these suggestions however you see fit, ask us questions, propose variations, and report back on your success!

Garage saleOur inaugural fundraising idea is to have a garage sale, also known as a yard sale. Although you might not know it from the cool weather we've been having, spring is in fact here, which makes it the perfect time to clean out your basement, attic, or garage. You need no permits to sell merchandise on your own property, so haul out a table, put out some signs, and free up some room in your house at the same time you benefit the NMSS.

Online instructional site eHow.com has a dozen steps for holding a profitable garage sale. In short:

  1. Schedule the event and place an ad in the paper.
  2. Scour your house for salable items.
  3. Spread the word among family and friends.
  4. Clean your merchandise to presentable quality.
  5. Round up volunteers to help run the event.
  6. Print and post one-page flyers.
  7. Place large signs on your lawn and around your neighborhood.
  8. Mark the price of every item.
  9. Organize the items to make them attractive and easy to browse.
  10. Establish a checkout table near the front of the lawn.
  11. Ensure there's accessible nearby parking.
  12. Be cheerful — talk and haggle with your customers!

To step #1, I would add the suggestion to schedule a rain date, as we all know how unpredictable New England can be! Also be sure to advertise that the event is for charity, as you may find folks being more generous in their offers. You may even choose to omit price tags, instead selling your products for "best offer".

Browse our fundraising archives for other ideas, and keep an eye on this blog for more to come. In the meantime, good luck with your garage sale!

Ken joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

Fundraising — flashbacks to childhood

Written by on Aug 19, 2009

If one were to describe my fundraising or selling skills, it might read something like,"Has difficulty asking for money even when the cause is noble; is too shy to barter even when in Mexico on vacation; required younger brother's assistance selling Girl Scout Cookies."

Trouble selling Girl Scout cookies! How bad is that? So here I am, about forty years later, preparing for my fifth Challenge Walk and proud member of the very successful Blister Buddies — and my knees still knock when I think about raising money.

So what kind of advice could this former Girl Scout and all round selling weenie have to offer?

  • Personalize the asking — My brother, sister, parents, aunt, and cousins all support me. I walk for Patty, my team captain; some of my family have met her, while others only know her story through me. I talk to them about MS and how it impacts Patty and those I've met at the Challenge Walk. Never forget how important it is to tell your MS story.
  • Have a bake sale — Even I can stand behind a table filled with homemade treats and make a sale. The Blister Buddies added a bake sale component to our annual yard sale this year, and not only did it add to the revenues — it slowed people down long enough to hear our story. I can't tell you the number of people who said "keep the change" when paying for a cookie or piece of cake.
  • Wear your message — I have a drawer full of MS shirts, hats, bags and pins. I wear them as often as I can, with the result that someone almost always asks about the event or the team.
  • It's okay to think small — Tens and twenties add up. Next year I plan to recruit people to have a yard sale with all or part of the proceeds going to MS. Our team has in-kind support from two printing companies, so I can provide my fundraising recruits with signage and other assistance. Bakes sales, dinners, similar functions all can be hosted by others to benefit MS; think about the number of new ears that will hear your MS story!

Fundraising isn't easy for most of us, so just remember that when you're telling your MS story, the listener can't hear your knees knocking!

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.