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Cleaning Out Your Closet: A Guide to National Garage Sale Day

Tips and advice for having success on National Garage Sale day

Perhaps Betty White's "Golden Girls" character, Rose Nylund, took the phrase "garage sale" a little too literally --people aren't actually selling garages.  At least we don't think so.

All potential vendors should mark their calenders for this Saturday, August 14 because it's National Garage Sale Day.  Not only is it a great opportunity to find bargains, but to also make extra cash, get a jump on fall organizing projects and to be green by keeping things out of landfills  (and perhaps avoid being the focus of the next "Hoarders" episode).  So clean out the closets, garage, basement, attic or yard, ask your bored-with-the-summer-by-now kids to give you a hand and let the decluttering begin.

A garage sale doesn't take a lot of work, but there are a few things you can do to make it even easier. A few days before, gather up newspapers and plastic shopping bags so shoppers can take their purchases home easily. The day before, get small bills for change and post signs the night before on the closest busy streets. Remember to advertise (perhaps on Craigslist) as a multi-family sale if some neighbors are also participating--that will certainly attract more shoppers.

If you buy price stickers as soon as you decide to have the sale, you can price the items as you sort through them to save time. To avoid pricing every item, set table prices (example: "All items on this table $4"). Set realistic prices but leave room to negotiate. Almost everyone will expect to haggle.

Offer packages (books and records are 4 for $1) and group similar items together to encourage shoppers to make multiple purchases and offer discounts to those who do.  If your sale is not part of a multi family one, have people on hand to help out.  The unpleasant reality is some people will try to steal things, especially if they see you are running the sale alone. Encourage your helpers to sell some items at your sale, but use different colored price labels to avoid confusion. And try to sell whatever you don't want, even if you think no one will buy it. "One person's trash is another person's treasure" may be a cliché but that doesn't mean it is not true.

You should donate all items that do not sell. Bring unwanted clothes and shoes to a donation box (see Patch's article for locations), or if there's too much for a drop off bin, arrange a home pick up. You don't need to be home, just leave the donation in your driveway the night before. The driver will even leave a receipt in your mailbox (donations are tax deductible so keep receipts and a list of the items donated for tax purposes).

If you need information on where to donate, here a few charities that frequently come to West Islip for pickups: Vietnam Veterans of America, 631-582-0242 (www.wepickup.org); the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, 1-877-488-6273 (www.ocrfpickup.or)g; the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. 1-888-44L-UPUS www.lupuspickup.org); Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, 631-234-0000 (www.bbbsli.org).

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