The Great Toy Purge (a.k.a. Garage Sale Tactics and Hacks that Work)


I remember it well. It was the day I reached the breaking point with the clutter level in our already-too-effin-small humble abode.

The realization that it was time to de-crapi-fy came to me as I was trying (key word is trying) to organize the monumental mess of TOYS in our basement. I was attempting to organize the tons of STUFF my rugrats own into somewhat of a system that made sense and still kept the pandemonium at bay.

My theory was, that if each toy type was in its own bin, it wouldn’t seem like my basement had more inventory than Wal-mart quite as much. Plus I had heard it was a Scientifically Proven Fact that plastic dinos and toy farm animals cannot chew, claw, Moo, or “raaar” their way out of plastic totes.

I felt smug and brilliant as I feverishly organized until I was near cross-eyed. There’s a was Safari Critter bin, a “Action Guy” bin, a Matchbox Cars bin, a Barbie Crap bin, a Pretend/Play Food bin, and a “Weapons Bin”…….

Re: “weapons bin”…we are not freaks or preppers…I swear.

Anywhoo, I just wanted to feel in control of my living space again. I was also concerned that, if the plastic dinosaurs and the toy soldiers ever aligned forces against us, we’d be screwed.


My “ah-ha” moment was when I realized our kids had outgrown about 70% of what I was trying to “organize.” I firmly believe that stuff in your house “needs a home” (storage bins) or “a path” (a way to move them on to someone else who can put things to use)…

…and the “PATH” moment had come.

It was time to purge and have a garage sale. So armed with a laundry basket, garbage bags, garage sale stickers, and a big block of time it was time to do battle with my clutter.

So after a week of swearing, toiling, bargaining with the kids (no, you do not need your Cocker-Spaniel-sized Barney doll. Second graders have moved ON from big purple dinosaurs-I am sure of it) and many packs of garage sale stickers later, our garage sale was ready to rock-n-roll.

Needless to say, it was a good day. We removed a TON of unnecessary or outgrown items from our home and made some extra money for our No Bummer Summer Travel Fund at the same time. The kids got on aboard after hubby and I agreed they could have some of their earnings from the sale of their toys as “fun money.”

If I was to do it differently, this is what I would change:

1. Have it earlier in the Spring: Typically we have our sale in May when shoppers are ready and hungry for garage sales. But thanks to this year’s crazy weather (we still had snow on the ground in mid-May) we had to push it back to the first week in June. I truly believe we did not have the crowds we normally have had, even though the weather was decent that day.

2. Use social media more: I am amazed as to how much traction I got from posting pictures of my bigger items on Facebook. Countless people showed up asking, “do you still have the ___ I saw on Facebook?” Very much an eye-opener as far as creative and effective ways to promote your sale.


1. Stick with Fridays: I still think Friday is a better day than Saturday for a sale. Not sure why we have just always had great luck on Friday’s

2. Involving the kids was awesome: Our oldest practiced his change-making skills and was more willing to part with out-grown toys when he knew he was getting some of the money.

3. Using the sale as a lesson in saving $$: Like I mentioned, the kids got some of the money. The rest went into their savings accounts. Jake is saving for a BB gun, and Sara is saving for a “pet unicorn.” 😉

4. De-Crap-ifying is empowering: Using the garage sale as a way to de-junk, de-clutter, and get some extra pocket money.

5. Rewards are more than money: It was a win/win in so many ways that day. We dejunked, we lightened our load and we made some fun money. Oh yes, and the after-garage-sale glass of wine I had with Rexy was DELIGHTFUL. #winning


What garage sale tactics work for you?

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Organizing experts have stated that the average family of 4 has at least $1500 worth of unused, sell-able items in their home.

I think it’s MORE.

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Turn it into CASH.

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