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Everything You Need to Plan Ahead for Your City-Wide Garage Sale on a Budget

Garage sale text on a laptop

If you’re looking to divert items away from the landfill while helping your residents get rid of unwanted items, a city-wide garage sale in your city could be the solution! Follow this guide for a template on how to plan for a city-wide garage sale.

Once you’ve organized the basic elements of your city-wide garage sale, the next step is to get the word out to as many residents as possible about your event while keeping within your budget. This ensures you get a significant number of sellers to sign up and participate, and also pushes for shoppers to show up to the sale and buy.

Here are affordable ways to plan and market your city-wide garage sale:

  1. Create a page on your municipality’s website dedicated to the city-wide sale with relevant information
  1. Completely exploit social and digital media (which is completely free!)

Post information on other community websites and bulletin boards and on your city’s Facebook page. You might even want to create an entirely new, event specific, Facebook page all together. Use Twitter, Instagram and any city-specific mobile apps to get the word out to residents with busy schedules. They need to learn about the event details quickly, and today, more and more residents are using their phone as a primary tool for ingesting information.

  1. Piggy back on related community outreach

Send out relevant event information in already existing community newsletters (print) and utilize local e-mail lists to incorporate event info into e-newsletters. 

  1. Print material

Print visually dynamic flyers and place them around the city. You can put them underneath car windshields, in lobbies of local businesses, in coffee shops or restaurants, and even tacked onto household garbage cans and recycling bins.

  1. Pitch the story to local media and send them a press release (or buy ads)

When marketing your event with local media you have two options: buy an ad that will be placed alongside or in between editorial content or pitch a story to local media that will make sure your event is the centerpiece of the editorial content all together.

The “story” option is the cheapest because it’s free! All you need is a polished press release and a story pitch. Then once you decide this part of the equation, you have 3 other options: newspaper, radio or TV. Articles in local papers are usually a great option. You can also ask a local radio DJ to host his or her show at the city-wide sale on the day of the event.

Another option is to pitch your story to the local TV news station, and ask them cover the event on the nightly news show. Tell them you are willing to do any on-camera interview!

  1. Word of mouth

Be a walking, breathing press machine. Talk about the event with every person you come in contact to. Chat with local businesses and speak with the people in your community on the front lines of resident interaction; baristas, waitresses, restaurant and coffee shop owners. And verbally promote the city-wide garage sale event at other city recycling events. Be polished, poised and proud when you speak about the event. This helps get residents excited.

  1. Personal promotion

Add a message to your voicemail mentioning the sale and also add a line in your email signature. This takes minutes and has the opportunity to really maximize your reach.  

  1. Create a contest within the city leading up to the city-wide garage sale

Contests often create great incentive to participate. Feel free to instigate a little competition. You could put forward that the resident with the highest daily sales wins a prize, or maybe that the first shopper to arrive at your event gets something for free.

  1. Place ads in classifieds about the event: Craigslist or Kijiji

Bargain hunters often use classifieds online to buy used goods. Target this thrifty demographic here. Remember, targeted outreach is better than aimless promotion.

  1. Partner with likeminded organizations

Connecting with other organizations, big or small, is a great way to strategically maximize your overall reach and also potentially raise money. Garage Sale Trail in Australia is “enabled by 164 councils, in partnership with forward thinking media networks and businesses”. Not only is their website stunning and well thought out, but their partnerships, both in the public and private sector, show that they are making a conscious effort to build a greater community around their event, while simultaneously raising money.

*TIP:

The title “City-wide garage sale” is already taken! The event in Austin, Texas has trademarked the term. Here are some alternative names you can use for your event:

  • Community-wide garage sale
  • Trunk sale/Trail sale
  • (name of city)-wide garage sale
  • Town-wide garage sale

These are just some low budget or free ways that you can market your city-wide garage sale. Which tactic (or group of a few) would work best with your budget?


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