Renovation & Design

Block auction a good way to declutter

Forget garage sales -- teaming up with neighbours may ramp up profits

Laurie Mustard / Winnipeg Free Press

Want to get top dollar for those black velvet paintings? Try a neighbourhood block auction. Advertise some of the products beforehand to help draw the right crowd.

OK, this time, I’m serious.

Like so many of you, I have a lot of stuff in my house, garage and sheds (including a 42-ft. by 60-ft. shed) that I want to part with.

I intend, by summer’s end, to reduce my "inventory" around here by 50 per cent.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been half-heartedly selling odds and ends, giving some stuff away, actually even putting some things in the garbage (gasp), but that last one is tough to do.

I hate waste and we humans produce so much of it that it’s actually rather outrageous.

Daily, our landfills receive materials, appliances, furniture and construction materials, etc... that people in have-not countries would feel they’d won a lottery to have.

One of these Saturdays, I’m going to do a column on construction material waste — particularly lumber.

All of those materials should be going to a drop-off site for sorting and recycling.

Lumber products in particular should be made available for redistribution — whether sold or given away — for use in other fields where lumber is a staple.

But that’s a topic for another day. Back to serious downsizing.

Here are at least a couple of the things that hinder my ability to downsize in a truly productive and effective way — my focus here being the things we believe have monetary value and would like to sell.

First, I’d like to be able to at least get close to what the same or similar items sell for in the general "used" retail market. But the biggest challenge, I find, is how and where to put said treasures up for sale.

I do not enjoy selling stuff via the traditional "list it" and wait for individual responses by email, text, phone and so on.

Between the goofy questions and no-shows, the "list it" method can rapidly become a masochistic endeavour. Maddening at times.

Garage sale, maybe?

Garages sales are a pretty good way to just clear stuff out if basically you’re willing to "get it gone" for a token price or even via the free pile.

They are not the best means, however, of getting a good price for some of your more valuable items.

It’s true that "value is in the eye of the beholder," and if you don’t luck out and find the right "beholders" attending your sale — and at least two to compete for your higher-end sale items — you’ve got nada.

Nevertheless, garage sales are a proven way to downsize successfully, and bring in some much appreciated beer and pizza money.

What if there was a way to ramp up their effectiveness a bit?

Allow me to suggest the following "tweak," if you will.

How ’bout, say, a five-house minimum block garage sale auction!

Via the most effective pre-sale (and free) advertising means possible, you let people know what you’ll have available, then hire an auctioneer to come sell your stuff!

Program and agenda: one garage at a time over a couple or three hours in total to competing beholders who particularly desire your specific gems!


Great idea, as long as nobody decides you’d need a licence to hold a group garage sale auction and Mr. And Mrs. Busybody — neighbours who aren’t involved in the auction — refrain from calling in a complaint about the noise and fuss happening on their street for a few short hours on one isolated day out of the year.

As Seinfeld would say "Newman," I say "Humans."

I mean, hey, the GSAuction might even be a good way to get top dollar for my black velvet paintings! Finally!

Which is, in fact, what today’s whole column is really about!

Why can’t anyone see the value in these gorgeous paintings! Geeeez! OK, who wants to start the bidding?

I’m waiting... Hello?

Comments or feedback? Love to hear from you!


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