Both El Cerrito and Albany hold citywide garage sales on subsequent Saturdays in May. Hosts must register at least a month in advance and pay a fee – El Cerrito – $16 and Albany – $10, to be included in the handouts and on-line map which are distributed the week before the sale.
El Cerrito, which often holds sales in the Spring and Fall, celebrated it’s 25th anniversary sale in 2015. Albany started their sales in 2009 in collaboration with El Cerrito. They now hold separate events. It is possible the collaboration was too big of success, resulting in a very complicated list and map.
Hosting Citywide Garage Sales
By Laurenteen Brazil, City of El Cerrito, CA
Do you host citywide garage sales? If not, why not? They are an excellent opportunity to promote reuse and community pride while reducing clutter. Depending on how an organization is structured, events can be coordinated by the staff that promotes sustainability – like the Public Works Department here in El Cerrito, or by the staff that promote events like the Recreation Department.
The major elements to a successful citywide event include:
- Determine administrative fee(s) as necessary
- Establish an efficient registration process – both online and hardcopy
- Develop an informative webpage
- Select a date that doesn’t conflict with major events or activities
- Conduct outreach to generate hosts and shoppers
- Circulate press releases to generate event enthusiasm – radio and newspapers
- Coordinate newspaper ads listings
- Design maps for distribution – online and hardcopy
- Create banner(s) for advertisement purposes
- Place ads in all in-house newsletters
- Post flyers at major community-based businesses
- Utilize social media to build interest – Facebook, Twitter, Next Door…
Partners: It may be useful to partner with a neighboring city or organization to share advertising and to promote community support. Events can be hosted on the same day to create a huge garage sale or successive Saturdays. Allow businesses and bordering cities to participate as partners or sale hosts. Shoppers will appreciate more locations to visit to find great goods at great prices.
Maps: Decide how best to design the map. Do you have a budget to use a designer or do you need to create it in-house? If you choose to use a printer, make sure they use soy-based inks and make sure to select the highest recycled-content paper provided. Limit hosts to a maximum of 20 words for sale descriptions to insure the map is a one page duplexed document.
Food and Drink: Decide whether or not to allow hosts to use food and beverage ads as enticements. Promoting foods prepared in unlicensed kitchens could potentially be problematic for a city. Once decisions are made, make sure to be consistent in providing that information to each host.
Photos: On the day of the event, take photos of different sales to use for upcoming outreach materials.
Post Event: Provide hosts with resource information to ensure unsold items do not end up in the landfill.
Survey: Plan to survey hosts as well as participants soon after the event in order to determine where improvements need to be made. The registration form should also include space for feedback to help generate new ideas and enhancement opportunities.
A well-organized citywide garage sale is fun for those that participate, benefits the environment by promoting reuse, reducing clutter and waste, and helping to foster a more connected community. Read more… El Cerrito and Albany.