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Got Clutter? Think Garage Sale!

By Cynthia Fooshe

Having a garage sale is not on my “Fun Things To Do” List. However, I do know that having one is an excellent way to make some extra money (and who doesn’t need some these days?) on items that are clutter in our homes and worse … in our lives!

The problem with having a garage sale? – it’s hard work! The actual sale may be fun but preparing for it and making sure the “leftovers” do not find their way back into our homes takes planning, time and energy.

When organizing for a garage sale, I’d urge you to start by thinking of each item in your home as belonging in either of two categories:

  • Keep (Use/Display/Store) – Items you love, use and/or still have strong sentimental value
  • Let Go (Trash/Donate/Give Away/SELL) – Everything else…items you simply no longer need (and may never have needed) and bring no value to your life.

The idea of getting de-cluttered (and better organized) can feel overwhelming. You know you need to do it, have decided to do it, but where do you start? If you block out some time, it’s really quite simple. Pick a room and start with a small contained space in that room – such as a drawer. Sort items into like categories and then, for each item, ask yourself:

Do I love it?
Do I use it? Will I use it anytime soon?
Does it have sentimental value to me?

Continue to the next drawer, shelf, closet … wherever you have things hidden away until you have completed the process throughout the entire room, garage, basement and/or attic. Concentrate on areas where you know you have an army of unloved, unused, unwanted items.

When items do not meet any of the criteria listed above, place them in a box labeled, LET GO! and write the type(s) of items on the box.

You should end up with an army of boxes containing unloved, unused, unwanted items ready to be nicely displayed at your garage sale to be bought, cherished and used by persons unknown.

For those of you with children, consider urging them to go through the same process of collecting and selling their unwanted toys and things at your garage sale. Besides selling lemonade, they might want to set up their own table at the sale.

In summary, NOW is the time to …

  • Start making your new year’s resolution to get more organized a reality.
  • Gradually start sorting through items in your basement, attic, garage, closets, in that scary space under the stairs, in trunks, in boxes under the bed … all that STUFF that is collecting dust and taking up valuable space in your home and your life.
  • Label boxes “LET GO!” and start filling them with items you no longer love, will never use, don’t enjoy and/or have no clue what they are!

Be ruthless and keep in mind … The most valuable thing in any home is the life being lived there!


Garage Sale Check List (pdf)

2 – 3 weeks before the sale:

Collect garage sale items Arrange charity pick-up for leftovers

1 week before the sale:

Clean & repair sale items Organize and price items (guideline – no more than 1/3 original price & best to price all items!)
Visit bank and obtain change


Day before:

Set up sales area (tables/chairs, racks for hanging clothes) Calculator
Check for safety hazards Bags (for your shoppers)
Place goods in sales area grouped & pleasingly displayed by category (furniture & eye catching items in front) Paper & pens
Extension cords (to test electrical items) Newspaper (to wrap fragile items)
Organize change in cash box Cover (or remove) items in sales area you do NOT plan to sell

Sale day:

Prepare refreshments, if desired Sell, sell, sell!

After the sale:

Deliver ALL leftovers to charity (or organize/arrange for charity pick up*) Count your $$$ … go out to dinner!


What about left-over electronics? In Portland, OR, Contact …

    • I Like Stuff (503) 775-2056 or (DVD’s CD’s, games, gaming consoles, phones, cell phones, computers, etc. except TV’s older than 5 years old and older computer monitors)
    • E-Tech Recycling (503) 693-8939 or (most everything electronic. They will also permanently erase computer data so it is safe and secure and only charge for old TV’s and computer monitors.)

Additional donation resources:

You can have your leftover items picked up and also make a tax deductible donation of clothing and household items by contacting Vietnam Veterans of America at:

In Portland, OR, you can have your leftover items picked up by Multnomah County ARC. To schedule a pickup, contact:




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