How to Host a City Wide Garage Sale

Chris Janota, Garage Sale Rover

Last week, hundreds of bargain hunters descended upon Geneva, Illinois just west of Chicago, for the city’s annual citywide garage sale.  About 150 homes hosted individual garage sales, and shoppers drove from sale to sale, securing deals on secondhand goods that might have otherwise ended up in the landfill or languished in storage.  “People look forward to the event,  it gives them a chance to meet their neighbors and brings a sense of community”… Said Laura Rush the Communications Manager who organized and hosted the first annual city wide garage sale sponsored by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.

Want to organize a citywide garage sale in your own community? We offer you these step-by-step instructions to get started.

1.  Find a Sponsor

Bring the idea of a citywide garage sale to your city, a local nonprofit, chamber of commerce, community organization or neighborhood group and see if they are willing to sponsor the event.

The first question the group may ask is how much money will it cost to coordinate the citywide garage sale?

To ease concerns about funding the event, Rush recommends charging a small registration fee to residents signing up to host sales at their home; Geneva charges $20 per house. The revenue will pay for the costs of organizing the event: purchasing ads and printing maps of the sales.

The sponsoring organization will, however, need to dedicate some of its staff time to event coordination that won’t necessarily be covered by registration fees. Garth Schultz, environmental analyst for the city of El Cerrito California estimates that El Cerrito’s city staff spends about 25 hours organizing each semi-annual event, for a city of 25,000 residents with 65 garage sales per event.

It is important that the garage sale has a lead coordinator – one point of contact to plan and execute all event logistics, Schultz says. That organizer may be staff from the sponsoring organization or an enthusiastic volunteer from the community, like you.

2. Sign up the sales

Once you’ve found a backing organization and designated a lead organizer, you’ll need to create a registration form to sign up residents to host garage sales at their homes. The registration form can be a printed copy or online, but it should collect such information as the resident’s name and contact information, the street address of the garage sale and a brief listing of any special sale items to interest shoppers.

To find garage sale hosts, send out the form through city or community newsletters and email lists and post the form on popular local websites and community bulletin boards.

While each community is different, Schultz has found that 65 is a good number of sales for El Cerrito’s citywide garage sale. When the city hosted the event once a year, over 120 sales would sign up, spreading shoppers thin over too many garage sales.  Geneva‘s first annual turnout of 150 was a spectacular turnout for their 24,000 population.

3. Spread the word

To find shoppers for your citywide garage sale, you’ll want to promote the event through avenues that reach avid garage sale shoppers best. Use registration revenue to purchase ad space in popular local newspapers or websites, but don’t forget about free means of advertising: local bulletin boards, publications’ community calendars, press releases, newsletters and  Craiglist.org.

Schultz also suggests asking garage sale hosts to help publicize the event, posting signs in their neighborhood or placing their own free ads on Craiglist.org or other websites.

 4. Draw up directions

The Geneva City Wide Sale uploaded all their listing to Garage Sale Rover to have them appear on the free mobile app.  It was a useful tool for shoppers to view and organize a route and get voice guided directions from sale to sale. Rover can help you too!  When you upload all your city wide sales to Garage Sale Rover your listings will appear on our free iPhone and Android app, your online google map and a pdf map. You can distribute these maps to garage sale shoppers by sharing the online link and by printing and distributing the pdf map throughout your  community.

5. Ask for feedback

On the day of the event, stop by a few of the garage sales and gather information from the hosts that can help improve the next citywide sale: How many shoppers did they receive? Did the shoppers come all at one time or was there a steady flow throughout the day? Where did the shoppers hear about the sale?

Press Release: Free Garage Sale Mapping App Debuts

Garage Sale Rover is a free mobile app for finding garage sales and estate sales available on the iPhone App Store and Google Play.  

App aims to be become the ultimate garage saler’s tool.

SAINT PAUL,  MINNESOTA – In light of the current uprising in mobile apps and a growing surplus of stuff due to housing downsizing after a 20 housing boom, Navigation App , a company based in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, officially launched their free app Garage Sale Rover for garage sale fanatics on May 1st, 2012.

Garage Sale Rover features a map with garage sales, yard sales and estate sales in a user’s area.   Chris Janota a seasoned garage saler who founded the app owns and developed Garage Sale Rover.  Janota came up with the idea for the app because garage sale hunting is inherently a mobile activity so he focused his effort to create what he calls “the ultimate garage sale tool.”  With gas prices near record levels the app offers features that help users spend less time on the road and more time at garage sales.   “After you experience the voice guided turn-by-turn Navigation, Route Optimization and Neighborhood Preview features you can’t do without them.”

Janota is a long time eBayer, Amazon Marketplace seller and resale store owner who frequently garage sales to generate inventory for his businesses.   “When time is precious on Saturday mornings, serious garage salers want the garage sale source that offers the most sales to ensure their not needlessly driving too much and missing out on treasures. “

Garage Sale Rover offers the nations largest source of garage sales.  They compile U.S. listings from Craigslist and 350 newspaper classified services.   “Many of our sales are added by our users,” he added.   If you are preparing your Saturday morning route or you’re organizing your city-wide garage sale you can go to our website to quickly add sales in bulk to Rover.”  They accept sales through express form on garagesalerover.com.

Contact: Chris Janota

Founder and developer, Garage Sale Rover

Tel: (651)917-4293

Website: Http://www.garagesalerover.com

Blog: https://navigapp.wordpress.com/

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/garage-sale-rover/id403097273?mt=8

Google Play: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mx123.sales.navigationApp.free

The Most Under Used, But Powerful Feature on Rover

If there is one feature Garage Sale Rover offers that is overlooked and under used it is Map-a-Sale found on our website.  Map-a- Sale allows a user to quickly add additional sales to the app when they are not included in our database.  Supplementing the map with sales from other sources can help you plan your complete route and is a great contribution to the garage sale community.

Adding a sale requires a simple copy, paste, preview, confirm. Then presto! Your sale is added to the database and will appear on the app.  Several sales can be added in just a minute.  The magic of the form is in the parsing of the address and date of the sale.  That data is parsed out of the body of the ad for you so fewer fields are required for entry.

See it in action in this 1 minute tutorial:

Steps: To Map your sale just go http://www.garagesalerover.com. Reduce the size of your Map-a-Sale window so it appears along side the window you are obtain garage sale data from. Simply copy the data from your source and paste it into Map-A-Sale.
Most of the fields are optional.  Only Description and City are required.  The form will parse the date and location data from the Description

Missing Sales From Your Map? Let Us Know

It came to my attention that we were missing some garage sales in Chico, California today that should have been on the app.  I’d like to thank that user in Chico for calling me (sorry i didnt get your name) and bringing this to my attention.  It’s very important to us that we compile all the sales we possibly can to Garage Sale Rover and it helps if we are alerted to any breakdowns you notice.

Please contact me if you notice any missing sales or any other problems.

Chris Janota

support@navigapp.com

(651)917-4293

Garage Sale Pants Photo Contest

Garage Sale Rover is excited to announce our first Garage Sale “Pants” Photo Contest! This is where you can share a photo of your awesome garage sale finds with everyone and enter for a chance to win $100! (Pants not required).

See any bizare or interesting things out there as your garage sale hunting Saturday? Snap a picture and share it with us.  It could be worth $100!

Picture Contents

Prize: $100 will be awarded to the photo with the highest number of votes.

Here are some ideas for your submission:

    • Lets see your garage sale finds. Did you land anything extraordinary valuable or interesting?

    • Bizarre signs? Recall the Divorce Sale sign i posted last month.

    • Charity sales. Here’s your chance to plug your fundraiser.

    • Parking problems? overflow lots. hahaha. what could be funnier?

    • Large things… like large pants.

    • Eccentric hosts. (Ask for permission, but don’t tell them their eccentric).

    • Any bizzare places? An island, a mansion, in some guys van?

    • Huge crowds of salers in small spaces.

TIPs: Be ready for anything when your out garage saling.  You have your camera on your phone so be ready when the opportunity strikes.  Bizare pictures usually make it to the top… in my experience. Creativity counts too.  Personalize it. We would love to see you!   Garage Sale Rover is sponsoring this contest but will not be voting for the winner so your photo does not need to be centered around your app use.  But it could if you wanted.

The public will vote on the best photos by using the “social share” links beneath each photo.  The number of “shares” will be tallied 12 PM on June 2nd and the highest share count will be awarded $100!

Submissions:

Email your picture to us at support@navigapp.com with required Title and Description.

Title: 20 to 50 characters in length.

Description: 70 to 300 characters in length.  Tell us the story behind your photo.  Write what you like but here are some ideas.  It could be a who, what, where, when of your photo.  It could be a story behind your find. Or more information on the great sale.  Information on the organization hosting the sale.  How about a poem on a pefect day garage saling.

Name: Your name is required but publicly displaying your name is optional. You can use your ebay user ID, your thrift store or estate sale business name.

If you submit a picture with distinguishable property or faces we will require permission.  We can accept just one submissions per person.  All submissions will be included in the voting.  Photo validation checks may be made to ensure authenticity.

This Photo contest is sponsored by Garage Sale Rover, a free mobile app for finding garage sales, yard sales, estate sales, auctions, thrift shops and pawn shops available on the iPhone App Store and Google Play.

The Case Against Donating to Goodwill

Chris Janota, Garage Sale Rover

After observing the donation landscape around me I find it’s becoming increasingly common to donate your stuff to thrift stores rather than hold your own garage sale.  Rather than taking up a Saturday and dealing with city regulations on garage sales, it’s convenient to just load up your unwanted stuff in the car and run it over to the new local Goodwill store in town.

It’s easy to donate to Goodwill stores.  Their drop off locations are conveniently located.  You receive a tax donation receipt  when you make your donation.  Federal law permits Goodwill donors to claim tax deductions for many financial contributions and for donated clothing and household items in good, used condition or better.

You can feel good that your donation to Goodwill is helping a worthy cause. Or should you?  What does your donation support? 

I wonder if people would donate as much to Goodwill if it was understood donations were not being sold to benefit the local community.  The last ten years the prices are being set to maximize profits and no longer to benefit people  the local community.  If fact, Goodwill now sells two thirds of its books, movies and music online. Precious Moments Figurines, for example, were selling for $16 on Shopgoodwill.com.  About 50% of donated clothing is shredded for filler material or sold over seas commonly in Africa.

Prices are optimized to yield the highest price possible but where is the money going?  Goodwill’s Easter Seals program that fosters job preparation and skills training.  But the last 10 years 85 to 95% of the profit have been funneled into new store openings and their online and mobile presence.  Goodwill is a business. It has been opening new stores at a rate any for-profit business would envy.   Its corporate salaries are cushy.  In 1999 then Goodwill CEO David M. Cooney made $209,153: not bad. This, however, was about the time that Goodwill began implementing its growth plan. It was at this time that George W. Kessinger took over as CEO of Goodwill Industries International, in 2001, after 24 years as Orange County Goodwill president.  As CEO he now earns over 1 million per year.

Should Goodwill’s tax status be any different from any rapidly growing for profit retailer?  Why couldn’t Target accept free donations and get tax exempt status if they agreed to reinvest their shareholder dividend back into more stores?  Target has been giving back to charity about 2% of profits for years.  Any company operating at a loss surely would be agreeable to those terms as well.

The tax status that Goodwill receives is no different from the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul or any other mega non-profit thrift store.  But their rate of growth and pricing strategy is what makes them stand out from the pack.  I do not make any claim that Goodwill’s tax status is being abused in any way but they truth lies in the corporate fat, the cushy overhead and perks and operational inefficiencies that are fostered in any government entity without accountability.  I just argue for transparency and a public openness what donations are feeding into.  The irony lies in their name, “Goodwill.”  If they live by that name and use the tax exempt status we have given them to societies benefit perhaps they can help develop widespread adoption of reuse which puts less strain on the earth’s ability to provide scarce resources for manufacturing.

Chris Janota is the developer of Garage Sale Rover, a free mobile app for finding garage sales and estate sales available on the iPhone App Store and Google Play.

Google Goggles at Garage Sales

By Chris Janota, Garage Sale Rover

In a previous blog post we analyzed  a promising project that categorizes antiquities named Info-Snap.

Currently search involves entering  text. You may even sometimes search by voice commands.  This project uses your phones camera to analyze an antique hallmark to bring up relevant information.  In this post we’ll look at search engine giant Google and their Google Goggles mobile app that uses your camera phone and the pictures you take to search the web. As of right now, the visual search option is only available to Android enabled devices. However, the visual search service may become available to any phone with a camera, in the near future.  I foresee the ability to upload photos from your home computer and have the Google’s search bot cross reference the image with whatever it may be.

Google Goggles is a new search concept that is still being developed.  Right now the search technology is in it’s infancy, but eventually, it will become the next wave of search engine evolution. Due to being new in the search market, Google Goggles will only work with a select few things. Look below for some examples of ways that a person could use the visual search service.

Books: For instance, you are at a garage sale and you notice a book cover that catches your attention. Since you want to check out more information about this particular book, you decide to take a snapshot of it for later use. Then, you realize that you already have Google Goggles installed on your mobile device, so you decide to use the service. With the Goggles you are able to locate information about the book such as purchase information, and release date.

Artwork and antiques:

Let’s say that you are rummaging around through another person’s stuff looking for your treasure. You find a beautiful painting that looks old and has been tossed aside. You decide to cross reference it with Google’s database by taking a snap shot. Once you take that picture you find out directly from Google that the artwork, in front of you, is actually worth more than the seller is asking. You would know the title of the painting, when it was created, and who created it. I would think that this type of information would come in handy when you are searching for hidden gems.

Products: This product is only in testing now with google so how far this can go as a garage sale tool is yet to be determined.  Although I do not drink wine often, I know other people that would use the Wine feature of Google’s Goggles. Picture if you were at a garage sale and decided you were curious about a particular item, you could always take a photo of it. Once your photo is uploaded into Google Goggles you would be able to cross reference it with other products to get where ansd when it was made and secondary pricing information.

Logos: You are able to take a photo of a logo and find out more facts about that particular company. Anything that is on the web about that logo is available, in the palm of your hand without typing. As a Google Goggles user you can even take a snapshot of a product’s bar code and find what store sold it, for how much, and if they still have it in stock. This could come in handy when you pull up to a stop sign and see some contracting company that you would like to call.

I’m holding out hope that this technology can be developed into a usefule garage sale pricing tool.  The reality is that even though google goggles is currently available in the Google Play Store still has a long way to go to becoming that indescpeble tool that revolutionizes garage saling.   Currently Goggles is better used to read public landmarks and places, identifying business cards and wine bottles.