A yard sale with a difference

In response to a comment on Monday I mentioned the idea that if there is a lack of ways to donate your stuff in the area where you live then why not have a free garage sale. Yes you read that correctly, a garage sale to give your unwanted stuff away. Or a yard sale if you like. 

It would be easier than a normal garage sale, because you wouldn’t need to agonise over or make the effort to price everything. Just stick all your unwanted stuff out in the garage or lawn and allow those who come along to take what they please. The lawn sale seems like the safer approach because with a garage sale you would have to cover and or label everything that you aren’t giving away that is usually stored in your garage.

This idea was inspired by a memory of a reader some time ago who lived in France. She said that there were no thrift shops where she lived. So I told her to fill her car trunk up with the stuff she didn’t want and drive to a poorer neighbourhood and let people take what they want. I guess you could call that a free car boot sale. Just to clarify we call a car trunk a car boot here in Australia. I don’t know if she ever tried it, but so long as one steered clean of dangerous neighbourhoods then it would be safe enough to do.

I have to confess that at the time it made me think that it was just easier for some people to throw things away rather than make the effort to come up with a plan to donate it. I stick with what I state in the blog post last week, that people shouldn’t agonise over how to get rid of their stuff. However, in my opinion, they are obliged, for environmental and humanitarian reasons,  to at least make an effort to send it on to someone who can make use of it. And the free garage sale seem to me to be a simple, fast and effective way to go about that.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something from your bathroom.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Now that’s an excellent idea! I’ve been agonizing over getting rid of a bunch of stuff for a while… I don’t mean agonizing over the decisions, I mean agonizing over dealing with the process of getting rid of it all – especially the big stuff. Hmmm… thoughts to ponder.

    • Hi EcoCatLady, if you do go with the free garage sale option I would advertise it like a normal garage sale and then surprise people with the free when they get there. That way you won’t be inundated with crazed people grabbing stuff willy nilly and taking off with it. And use utmost security protocols, ie. lock up the house and back yard.

  2. I was agonizing over how to dispose of the print from a picture by Cezanne, a well known artist, that I mentioned on here a couple of weeks ago. I paid $35 for it at an antique store some years ago, and I believe I could have recouped some of my money. But the longer I looked at it laying on my dining room table while I pondered, the less I wanted to try to sell it on eBay (or some other way). So I put it on the pile of stuff that we took to the thrift shop yesterday…just glad to have it gone. I told them it might be worth a little something.

    • Good for you deanna…, sometime the bandaid method is the best one. That is get rid of it quickly and there won’t be so much pain.

    • Hello Deanna! I do like Cezanne, because I think his work led to the line drawings of Matisse and Picasso that I love so much (because of their simplicity). But let’s be honest…..even their own mothers wouldn’t leave those pictures on the refrigerator forever! Hahaha. 🙂 So get rid of it!

      And congrats on the impressive 365-ing you have been doing on this and the other threads!

  3. I think a free garage sale sounds like a good way to shift things fast, but I do urge caution and suggest bringing in a few burly mates for security. I read an article about someone who advertised on Craig’s List a ‘everything is free, everything must go’ sale at their house, people broke into the house ahead of the listed ‘open’ time and went thru the house instead of the stuff which was in the garage. The suggestion from the police who were called in was that they should have put a boundary on it ie “everything on the blue tarpaulin on the front lawn is free” and maybe kept the house locked and guarded.

  4. I like Colleen’s security protocols. I like the idea, not sure I can convince my granddaughters to do this, they usually talk me into having a sale & they like making money. Maybe we have a mixed sale, part free & part for sale.

    Another great idea!

  5. A couple of years ago my neighborhood was having yard sales (I don’t get in on them because they’re never on the right days for me)… I placed a box of new and used toiletries out at the curb though, because of the increased traffic in the neighborhood… and someone snagged it… win-win 🙂

    • Well done Peggy. I love a good free box on the curb. I am less inclined to doing that these days as we live in the middle of town but I have been known to put them in the foyer of the building.

  6. Hi, Colleen. I remember reading about a free divorce yard sale – a woman held an “x-husband yard sale” after their divorce was finalized and she was awarded their family home and everything – including his stuff – in it. She put all of her cheating husband’s stuff out on the front lawn, for free. She said it was therapeutic and getting rid of his stuff (golf clubs, power tools, pool table, etc) helped her to move on after 33 years of marriage.

  7. I don’t know how many people would have enough give-away stuff to have a large free garage sale but a group of neighbors together might and that would provide safety in numbers. Or, gang together and hold it at a remote but public location — church, school, park.
    A nearby church holds a ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ garage sale which translates to donations rather than prices.

  8. Colleen,

    Great post. I saw the suggestion in your earlier post, but I didn’t have a chance to comment then. I’m glad you followed up with another post. My mom did this years ago, when she moved from a big house to a small condo. She packed what she wanted to take with her, then she had an “open house/garage/attic” to get the rest cleaned out. She only invited people from her work (a hospital) and close neighbors, which kept the safety issues to a minimum.

    Those hospital ladies had that house cleared out in just a few hours. It’s an excellent method of getting rid of clutter, provided you can do it safely.

    We are in a huge transition here, minimizing our belongings to a 5×10 storage unit and four suitcases. It is challenging, but exciting. I am grateful to be able to donate things to the Salvation Army, an organization that truly does good work. I’ll have an open house “free sale” before we move out, to get rid of whatever is left.

    I have ten weeks. Yikes. I haven’t posted lately, and that is the reason! I’ve been reading all the posts and comments, though, so hello everyone, and thanks for the great comments!

  9. We have a monthly event here, the Really Really Free Market, in a public park – it solves all those security concerns, and on a good month pulls in a variety of people.

    Even with a lot of thrift stores around, it’s a venue for things thrifts won’t take – partly used toiletries go over well, and baby items, and mechanical things that need fixing. The main downside is that there are always some things leftover that still have to be tossed or donated.

    • Hi Rosa, welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for your comment. What a great idea. You have made my brain go haywire with ideas for creating such an event or even just instigating a space in our apartment building for this kind of exchange. It will have to wait until I return from overseas next year though. I’ll give it lots of thought when I am away. Thanks again.

  10. 3 friends & I had yardsale. We raised $ for our cat rescue group. We had a box of free stuuf (1/2 used pads of paper, hotel toiletries, excess office stuff like rubber bands , etc) most folks took 1 or 2 items. Until a man, who hadn’t purchased anything took the whole box of goodies. Up side, I got rid of cluttery littles things. I secretly hoped his house is chock full of junk and this just adds to his hoard ( the devil on my left shoulder “made” me think that -gentle smiles)

    • Oh Gail, that devil was up to mischief. Who cares who took it so long as it went. I had a garage sale once and a couple came who box up clothing and send it to less fortunate over seas. I gave them an armload of stuff and told them to come back tomorrow when the sale was over and I would give them a whole bunch more. They did and we were all happy.

  11. I do like this idea Colleen. I had thought about doing this once we are moved and before the new owners move in. Then I remembered that the community here has a rumage sale and uses the money for parties and other things. I will just let them come get it all.

  12. Just came across this in the newspaper and thought it worth sharing. This is how one town deals with their fall clean-up AND keeps stuff out of the landfill: Community-wide Trash To Treasure Week takes place Oct. 4 to 11. Place your unwanted but reusable, safe items at the front of your property by the curb, marked “Free”. At the end of the week remove any items you wish to keep, leave out unwanted items to be collected starting Oct 13.

  13. I know a church that regularly does it. They are in a neighborhood that they minister to, and this is a great way for everyone to pass along what they don’t need and freely give it to those that want it!