Dottie Diller has organized the rummage sale at St. Susanna’s in Mason, Ohio for the last six years. Before Dottie came on the scene, the rummage sale netted around $2,000 annually. With Dottie at the helm, the sale has netted over $14,000 in a single year! The parish has several hundred families that donates goods, and has a spacious facility to hold the sale, so Dottie and her crew have capitalized on these resources to make this an extraordinary event.
How does she do it? Here are a few tips that you can apply to any size rummage sale :
- Have a specific goal – when volunteers can visualize what they’re working for, they will be more enthusiastic.
- Control pre-sales – decide whether pre-sales to volunteers are permitted; if you do, make sure all items are priced before pre-sales begin.
- Create a boutique room – one of the most popular spots at St. Susanna’s; best quality items are priced at specialty or consignment shop prices and set up like a retail store with its own checkout.
- Sorting – throw away anything that is soiled or in disrepair. Items that won’t bring a price over 50 cents are displayed in a Bargain Basement area and not individually priced. Price all other items individually.
- Hang up as much as possible – all it takes is one person to wade through a perfectly stacked and folded pile of clothes to turn it into a messy mountain of madness. You can price items higher and they will sell quicker and stay more organized if you can hang them.
- Pricing – get people who have experience in the type of product. Check out pricing websites. Don’t use fancy labels, they won’t stick to fabric – masking tape and permanent markers work best (as long as the items aren’t displayed in the sun, where the adhesive tape can melt).
- Price jewelry separately; if you have a lot of jewelry, consider setting up a separately manned display and checkout area.
- Appliances – find someone who can test each item to determine if it is in safe, working order. It’s okay to sell non-working items as long as they’re not deemed to be unsafe, and are marked accordingly.
- Unique items – for unique or high-value items, consider a blind auction, where interested individuals place their bid and contact information on a slip of paper and placed in a sealed container until the sale is over; high bidder gets the opportunity to purchase first; work your way down the list until you get a buyer.
- Overhead – St. Susanna operates a school on their campus, so they must schedule their sale to take place immediately after the school year has ended. They actually rent a storage facility for a month or so to store early donations. They also rent tables.
- Attracting volunteers – recruit small group leaders to contact their members; provide child care; have a variety of shift lengths; permit controlled pre-sales.
- Concession stand – providing concessions will keep people at your sale longer and will boost sales; if you are unable to recruit volunteers to run the stand, consider offering the opportunity to another outside organization to set up, operate, and clean up.
- Have a plan for disposing of leftover items; contact local mission groups like Goodwill or Salvation Army to see if they will schedule a pickup immediately after the sale.
Other fundraising ideas here
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