Maybe your church is raising money to send the youth on a mission, or you need money to buy new doors for the entrance or to replace those choir robes that are 20 years old. Whatever the reason, church rummage sales are usually a good draw to bringing the public in to scour your tables for a variety treasures they can’t find anywhere else. It’s like going to a neighborhood block sale without all the walking. This article will give you pricing strategies, setting up suggestions, how to have adequate help, what to sell, how to organize, and what to do with leftovers.
SCHEDULING – First of all pick a date for your sale and stick with it. Depending on your locality in the country, many church sales are one day deals and others start on a Friday and end at noon on Saturday. How long you have it may depends on how many volunteers you have and how much they are willing to work.
DONATIONS – when asking church members to donate items, make a list of those items that typically sell well. Do not let anyone bring you junky, worn-out, broken, dirty items. You will just have to pay to have someone haul them away and those items will not be a good reflection of your church and any sales you might have in the future. You might even advertise in your local newspaper to ask fro donations. Some welcome a way to get rid of their own items while helping someone else.
PUBLICIZING – After you have chosen a day, place an advertisement in your local newspapers. If you do not want to spring the cost for this, many local newspapers will accept a “press release” for a fund-raiser, as long as its form a not-for-profit organization like a church. It might say something like this. “First Baptist Church of Springfield is holding a fund-raising rummage sale to send the youth group on a mission trip to Mexico. The sale will run Fri. June 22, 9 to 5 and Sat. 9 to 3, with all items being sold at $5.00 a bag after noon. All large items not fitting in bags will be sold at 90% off. First Baptist church is located at 111 S. Front St. in Springfield. Call 123-4567, if you have any questions.” Now that your date is set, make posters and place them on local bulletin boards or in store windows. If money allows, place a lighted sign on the front lawn a week ahead so the regular passing traffic will know about it ahead of time and plan for it. (Be aware of sign ordinances in your city.) Some television and radio stations have bulletin boards or calendars on their web sites that you can advertise on too. Word spreads fast when it’s a church rummage sale.
VOLUNTEERS – Finding help might be easer if it’s during non-school days. You might be able to get a teen group to help you along with parents who are trying to clean out their basements, garages and closets. Normally, you will have a group of women who loves shopping at garage sales and will normally know how to organize and set up ir at least direct those who are willing to follow orders. During a sale when it slows down, have volunteers reorganize and straighten up.
Teens might be good for helping customers on the day of the sale to carry out loads of merchandise that they have bought. Some might be interested in setting up a bake sale. Whatever you do, do not have too many teens working at one time and warn them not to hover over shoppers. Too many teens might create havoc as they start goofing off and all stand in a corner talking instead of helping. Depending on the maturity of your teens, they might better serve you at clean-up time. You know your teens and you can decide. It may be helpful to assign each one a short shift like 2 hours.
If possible, it would be helpful to have your workers visible to everyone by wear the same type hat or all wearing the same color shirt.
SETTING UP – If you can and space is available in a gym, start collecting merchandise 3 or 4 days ahead of time. Find as many tables as possible and try to keep everything off the floor unless it’s meant to be there. If anyone has clothing racks, utilize those, as well. A Wednesday youth group might enjoy helping with the collecting and organizing with the direction of adults. Store all boxes in one corner until you know where they will be placed and if you are also selling furniture and other large items such as exercise equipment, set those up in an organized manner close to the door so they are visible and won’t have far to be moved once they are sold. If you do not have a gym or other large room where to hold your sale, you will have to start really early setting up and give yourself plenty of time. You will need much more help if you setting up in a parking lot or under an outdoor canopy or open shelter, if you have to start at 5 am in order to be ready by 8 or 9am. Be warned that many shoppers will be lurking as you set up.
Organize your items in categories and don’t just place everything in a mishmash all over the place. The better customers can see what they want, those more you will sell. Don’t make your sale look like useless junk by carelessly throwing it on tables. Here are the suggested categories to label your tables with signs; toys, books, household decor, men’s clothing, women’s clothing, children’s clothing, things for baby, things for the kitchen. things for the bedroom, crafts, jewelry, collectibles, small appliances, tools, outdoor stuff such as bicycles, rakes, lawn furniture, outdoor toys, etc.
On a side note – do not sell Bibles unless they are an obvious collectible. If you are a church and you want to save souls, give them away. Selling Bibles at a church leaves a bad taste with many.
PRICING – As you are setting up, another group may choose to do the pricing. Some church individually price which can be a long and tedious process. My favorite sales and the most successful ones in my city are the churches who have basic prices posted on poster board throughout their gym area with individual prices only being places on certain groups of items. Example; CLOTHING -adults clothing -$1. – $2, children/baby clothing -50¢ – $1.00, Stuffed animals – $25 – $1.,Winter coats – $5., shoes & purses – $1., linens $1.-$2., books – 25¢ – 50¢, CDs – $1., DVDs – $3, VHS movies – $1., knick knacks – 10¢ to 50¢. Most other items such as coffee makers, furniture, jewelry, Christmas trees, toys, etc will be individually marked or the cashier will quote you a reasonable price when you check out. Choose responsible adults to do the pricing. If you are having a one day sale, have a bag sale the last 3 hours. If you have a 2-day sale, have your bag sale the last 3 hours of your 2nd day. Make the price reasonable and customers will come back just for that and haul lots of it away. Paper bags work well for this but any bag will do. Let them stuff it as much as they can. You do not want leftovers! If someone makes a reasonable offer on that kitchen set, take it!
FREE BOX – this is always a good thing! Put in those items most people find useful but wouldn’t pay for like plastic drink cups from fast food restaurants, clean empty baby food jars, baseball caps, fast food toys, plastic flowers, planters, popcorn or cookie tins, etc.
CASHIERS – Have a table or two set up near the door for checking customers out. Have pads of paper, pencils, calculators, and money boxes or belts..One church I go to has 2 ladies at one table who tally up your stuff while you pack it into your shopping bags. You take your tally sheet to the next table where a couple ladies are taking the money. Another church has 2 table where 3 ladies work together, one who says the prices out loud while packing it into bags, the 2nd person is writing down the prices and then adds it up. The 3rd lady takes your money. It’s sort of an assembly line. The more helpers you have checking out customers, especially early in the sale, the smoother it will run. The more cashiers, the better. Don’t forget to have plenty of bags and newspapers for packing. Teens might be good at the end of the check out to assist customers with their purchases, especially if they are trying to juggle small children with them. Be sure you have plenty of bags and boxes to load stuff into.
It might even be beneficial to have a roaming cashier with a money belt for those in a hurry and they are only buying one thing. If you have more than once entrance, you will need more than one check-out station. If you do not have enough cashiers, use only one entrance and lock the other one. As a cashier, be willing to negotiate and accept any reasonable offer.
REFRESHMENTS – If you have food there, keep it separate form the sale area. Keep it simple. Older teens might do well in their area. Sell baked goods, coffee and donuts in the morning, with soda, water available as well. Keep the prices easy enough for them to add up and collect.
MISCELLANEOUS – If possible, have an outlet available for those wanted to test electrical items. Have SOLD signs available to place on large items that people purchase but need to come back to pick up. Having sheets of paper and black marker will do the trick. Check pockets and purses for money. Yeah, I have found some that way.
LEFTOVERS – if you have leftovers, do you have a local charity run thrift store that you can take it to? Or do they have a pick-up service? Or do you have storage to keep it for a 2nd rummage sale later in the year? Many church where I live have one sale in the Spring and one in the Fall. If you need to haul leftovers away, arrange for a church member with a pick-up truck to come after the last hour and have others stick around to help load for hauling away.
Most of all, have fun with it all. It’s an adventure and can be lots of fun and work at the same time.