Professional tips for Kitchissippi’s yard sale season (plus, two no-miss sales!)

By Shaun Markey – 

After a long, grueling winter, a good portion of which was spent trapped in the house, you’ve decided it’s time to turn over a new leaf. It’s time to rid your home of a myriad of things that have been taking up valuable square footage. And you’ve also decided that the best method to send those surplus items down the road is, drumroll here, a garage sale!

There’s no question a garage or yard sale can be effective, but if you’re going to conduct a sale, a little bit of planning and execution can go a long way into making your event truly successful.

First, check with the neighbours to see if there are any plans for a street long or community garage sale. Being part of a bigger, destination sale, draws a greater number of buyers. Listing your garage sale on Kijiji or is free and will give your event good visibility.

If you are going solo with your sale, plan, as best you can, with the weather in mind. Look at the long-range forecasts and select a Saturday that promises decent weather. If it does rain, you can cancel, opt to push ahead and have the sale under a tarp, or actually stage it in the garage if you have one. My preference is to cancel. This is not a Broadway show you’re planning. Simply leave the driveway empty. Anyone who drives by will get the message.

Let’s assume you’re organizing your own sales event. Take some time to prepare. Walk through your house and decide which items will go into the sale and gradually move those items to a place where they can be transferred easily into the garage or another holding area.

Some items are more popular with buyers than others. Objects that are clean, functional and intact stand a much better chance of selling. You don’t like that partial set of dishes – chances are neither will potential buyers. Price objects accordingly. If it’s less than perfect, put a “fire sale” price on it and be prepared to sell it for less. After all, the goal is to sell your items, not drag them back into the house.

Antiques and collectibles that have some age and charm are eagerly sought after, especially at garage sales.Collectors and dealers know they can buy them for a song.

While the promise of antiques and collectibles will greatly enhance the attractiveness of your sale, it doesn’t mean you have to offer them at bargain basement prices. As you prepare for the sale, set aside any antiques and collectibles and do a little research on their potential value. They may be more valuable than you expect. A half dozen collectable “dinky” cars in good condition might have a retail value of over $200, so don’t offer them at $10. A collector or dealer searching for old toys would likely give you $100. That way you both win. The same can be said for many old things. Pottery, stoneware, sports equipment, costume jewelry, vinyl records, teak furniture, military medals and badges, lamps and lighting fixtures are just a few potentially desirable items that come to mind.

If you’re unsure about an item’s value, even after some research, put it aside. Just because you’re having a sale doesn’t mean you have to sell everything the first time around.

The trick is to strike a balance between a reasonable return and ridding yourself of unwanted items. Don’t forget, the whole reason you’re doing this is to clear things out of the house and garage. Every item that leaves with a customer is an item that isn’t taking up space in your home.

Limit your sale to three or four hours. Be set up by 8 a.m. and shut it down at 1 p.m. A four hour sale won’t exhaust you and you’ll have enough energy left to pack up any unsold items.

Garage sales can be a lot of work, but freeing up valuable space in your home makes it a worthwhile effort. As a collector I am loathe to say it, but one can certainly enjoy living with less.

Mark your calendars and set your alarms!

  • The Wild Wild WESTboro Garage Sale is taking place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on June 10, in Westboro Kiwanis Park, just outside Dovercourt. (No rain date.) This fundraiser supports the Westboro Community Association. There’s a bouncy house, plus a groundbreaking for the Dovercourt expansion from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by Music in the Park.
  • The Westboro Beach Garage Sale is neighbourhood wide and is taking place June 10 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Rain date is June 11.) Look for households from Remic Avenue and north of the Transitway to the Ottawa River. Cash only please! For information contact


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