Joyful Downsizing: Declutter All Summer for a Fall Garage Sale

Kim Kubsch

As a professional organizer, when someone indicates they want to participate in a community garage sale, I encourage them to start decluttering now!

Getting Ready for the Sale:

Decluttering is a fact of life! Consider the rule “one item in, one item out.” Keep looking critically at what you own and why you own it. Be comfortable putting something aside when the time has come. Every time a closet, a drawer, a cabinet is opened, stop and ask yourself these questions:

Am I using it? If yes, when is the last time I did?

Do I still need this?

What would I do if I didn’t have it anymore and the opportunity to use it comes up and I don’t have it?

Plan your sale and be honest. Are you feeling like you are up for this?

Ask your HOA for the date, and commit to it. Build a schedule leading up to it that not only has you gathering items for it, but allows you to price items, market them, and set up for it. Ask friends with folding tables to lend them to you. Make your request early, since your neighbors and friends may also be looking for tables for the same sale date!

Be clear on your goals. Is it to get rid of stuff? If yes, price items to move them out of your home. Is it to maximize making money? Is it to meet residents in the neighborhood?

Start pricing all the objects. This is actually one of the harder parts of a garage sale for most people. How much do you price it for and how much will you haggle down to let it go? Is there a minimum amount I won’t go below? Research items sold in your zip code on,, and Facebook Marketplace.

Make signs and create sections on tables, such as Like Cooking, Like Drinking, Like Crafting, Get Active, Get Festive, or any title that sounds inviting! Make it easy for looky-loos and tire-kickers to say yes. Have an extension cord to plug things in to confirm they still work.

Prepare your cash box with lots of small bills. If you want to meet new friends, set out your business cards. Print out directions to unusual items that will need them, leaving the “it’s a mystery” out of apprehension.

Create a “what’s next” plan for things that don’t sell. Have boxes ready and a plan for donations. Attempt to deliver donations in less than a week after the sale.

Keep decluttering! You are never done—decluttering is an ongoing process. Keep a bin in your garage or storage labeled, “Donate.” Continually add to it and share or donate once it starts overflowing.

If you anticipate a downsizing transition is in your near future, ramp up your decluttering pace. You will be glad you did, since it is much more stressful to let go of things in a short timeframe.

To propel your downsizing efforts prior to your transition or for ideas of donation venues, contact me at 480-720-8566 or [email protected] for a free 30-minute consultation.

Check back monthly for more ideas about organizing, decluttering, and downsizing! Visit to order my book Getting Your Life Together Organizer, available in printed paperback or downloadable and editable eBook.