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The North Shore’s garage sale BOOM

Think local

Each year in October, the giant Garage Sale Trail blazes across the North Shore, with hundreds of homes selling secret treasures and recycled items at bargain prices.

However, garage sales (which are sometimes referred to as attic sales, garbage sales, junk sales, moving sales and yard sales) are now becoming more and more popular all year round for many reasons, with people displaying their unwanted wares in garages and on lawns and footpaths, in an activity that has now become a solid and frequent community event.

For the Atkinson family of Waverton, having their garage sale was the perfect opportunity to recycle and sell many of their children's old toys and other family items.

"The kids were really excited about having a garage sale and have been pestering us to do this so they can buy more toys." Stephanie Atkinson laughs.

Their Sunday morning sale was an opportunity for nine-year-old Max, eight-year-old Will, five-year-old Tommy and three-year- old Ruby to mingle in the front garden with friends, family and neighbours and others who were looking for a bargain.

“They do keep taking things back into the house,” Stephanie smiles. "It’s a bit like they have second thoughts and don't want to let some of the things go.”

Mosman Council’s sustainability educator Loani Tierney says the council is very supportive of initiatives like garage sales that promote recycling and sustainable living.

During last year’s National Recycling Week in late November, North Shore councils joined with organiser Planet Ark to establish the Big Aussie Swap Party, where residents all over Australia exchanged their goods such as clothes, books, CDs, accessories and sporting equipment for tokens that were then used to purchase other pre-loved items that were brought along by other people.

Planet Ark recycling manager Janet Sparrow says many people in the community are increasingly becoming aware of fun and interactive ways of buying new and second hand goods.

“We are all gradually realising the throw away culture is not the way to go,” she says. "There are now many ways to recycle a growing number of items. Although we may not be using an item any more, there are plenty of ways we can lengthen its life rather than send it to landfill."

The Garage Sale Trail, which started in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs but went national four years ago, aims to reduce landfill, stimulate neighbourly connections and inspire creativity.

Around Australia, it involves 100 councils, more than 7,000 sales 360,000 participants 35,000 sellers and an online audience of more than 2 million. It will be held this year on October 25.

For nine-yearold Max Atkinson, having his own family garage sale has been “lots of fun“.

“It's a good way to pass things on,“ he tells North Shore Living.

 "I don’t feel sad because people can come and find treasures here. We also have lots of friends that have stopped in to visit us during the day. We all helped Mum put out the toys. Doing a deal is a good way to go,’ he smiles.

Start preparing at least two to three weeks before the day and clear out unwanted items. Ask neighbours if they would like to have a sale on the same day and split the cost of advertising.

  • Advertise in the local paper and make sure the ad appears in the same week as the sale. Make sure you have important key words to indicate what you are selling, for example bric-a-brac, collectables, antiques, furniture or good quality clothing.
  • Advertise the time the sale starts, but remember people will arrive early to grab the best bargains. The majority of the selling will be done early in the morning.
  • On the morning of the sale, put balloons and signs up outside the house or garage doors. Make sure all the items are labeled and placed in appropriate piles and collection areas.
  •  Arrange the items with care, giving the buyer the impression the goods have been well cared for. Try and keep a clear walking track around the display tables.
  •  Prepare a float with a lot of change.
  • Keep smiling... even if people are trying to haggle over price - have fun!

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