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Bless This Mess: Organizing a Church Rummage Sale with Room Dividers

Fueled by summer cleaning from the congregation, church rummage sales are a great way to fundraise for outreach and education while connecting with members of the larger community. Nothing helps a successfully run rummage sale more than organization. From the drop off days to the sale itself, having a well-planned routine will benefit everyone involved. Here are a few easy steps to follow when coordinating a church rummage sale.

organize rummage sale1. Set a meeting date for the rummage sale leadership team to plan the event.
Collectively select the best day to host a rummage sale. Check with other local churches to see if they are hosting a sale on a specific day. You might get more shoppers if they can attend multiple sales in the area. Assign a point person for each department to guide volunteers and to make decisions the day of the sale. Create a marketing team to promote the sale thru the church and the community. They can do this thru social media, chamber of commerce, flyers, posters. Recruit volunteers. Submit requests for volunteers thru the church’s social media channels, website, or bulletin. Display flyers at the exits of the facility. Have a method in place to solicit donations from the congregation.

2. Donation drop-off
Because vehicles and people will be closely involved on drop off day, it is essential to implement safety measures. Designate clear driving lanes with orange construction cones. The paths should begin at the parking lot entrance to the rummage sale entrance. Recruit plenty of volunteers to assist in unloading vehicles and to receive donations as well as direct traffic. Have large rolling carts and dollies available to move more substantial items. Have volunteers take items to one large room to be sorted. Do not allow pedestrians to cross the driving lanes.

Rummage Sale Clothing Next to a Portable Wall3. Organizing the selling space
Traditionally, churches separate rummage sale items into categories and designate rooms for each category where shoppers can browse. However, not every church has a facility that accommodates this segmented shopping experience. Additionally, for smaller rummage sales, it may not make sense to give categories a designated room due to fewer items in that category.  To use your space most efficiently while also creating logical categories for shoppers, use room dividers to create shopping sections in a gymnasium or atrium. Depending on the number of items in each category, you can shape the room dividers to create various sizes of shopping spaces. The dividers can also be linked together to form longer walls that stretch the length of the gym or atrium, dividing the space into two or four larger category rooms. Each section made from the room dividers can be labeled by tacking signs onto the divider. As items begin to sell at the rummage sale, each space can be repurposed by changing the shapes of the dividers and relabeling sections by changing the tacked signs. Regardless of the number of items or amount of space you have, room dividers can help make your rummage sale dynamic, flexible, and a positive and seamless experience for shoppers.

4. Payment system
Institute a cash-only policy. For security reasons and to shorten checkout lines, set up a cashier’s table at the exit of each room. Volunteers should staple a colored tag around the handle of the shopper’s bag. Each cashier should have a lockbox with petty cash at the start of the sale.

Consider pricing clothing items by the type of item, for example; top, suit, dress, shorts, skirt, etc. This pricing scale makes it easier than pricing each item separately. For designer items, have a boutique section where things are priced individually. Furniture and decorative items should be priced separately.

5. Last day specials
Organizing the last day specials is a great way to increase the number of shoppers and get rid of the remaining items at the sale. There are many ways to do this. Slash the percentage off each hour or offer a flat fee for all the items the customer can stuff inside a shopping bag.

Sorted jeans on tables
6. Organize collections for local charities
Prearrange with local charities to pick up unpurchased items at the end of the last day of the rummage sale. Have boxes and large garbage bags in each room for items to be placed in at the end of the sale. Boxes, bags, and larger items will need to be loaded into the charity’s vehicles, so be prepared with volunteers who can lift heavy objects.

Rummage sales are a lot of work. You will spend countless hours in preparation, from getting your supplies, soliciting donations, to pricing items. But the result in revenue for your organization is worth every sweat and tear put into making the rummage sale a reality.

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