Bucking the clutter

A yard sale can be a great space saver, restoring room to a garage or attic. Plus you can make a few dollars.


It's time to exterminate that flannel shirt collection from the '90s, rid yourself of that, gulp, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam tape (yes, tape) and finally sell that hideous flowery, metallic ring an ex-boyfriend gave you. Yes, sell. Before the weather cools too much, gather your undesirables and have a garage sale.

Early fall weekends, when summer's humidity has departed but the sun still warms the air, seems to bring out the bargain shoppers in droves, armed with newspaper classified ad pages and on the hunt for hand-lettered signs tacked to utility poles.

If you've got a garage - or basement, attic or other space turned storage facility - that needs emptying, or you're just ready to unload some possessions, here are some surefire tips for a successful garage sale courtesy of Consumer Reports Money Adviser, based in Yonkers, N.Y.

Get the facts: "Check with the town hall to see if garage-sale permits are required."

Find a partner: "Get a neighbor to join in, split the advertising costs and attract more customers with combined items."

Hold on to valuables: "Do research on items such as china, furniture, jewelry and pottery. Consumers can find a local appraiser on the Web site of the National Association of Professional Appraisers - professional appraisers.org."

Limit costly items: "Consumers can get a better price on things like pianos or motorboats by advertising them in the local newspaper."

No midweek sales: "Check the community calendar for big events. Saturday is usually the best day of the week to have a sale."

Lead the way: "Use directional signs with arrows to guide drivers. Good signage is key to a garage sale's success."

Give a good deal: "Check the retail prices of the items you plan to sell on the Web or by visiting local stores, and then knock around 80 or 90 percent off, depending on the condition of the item."

Clearly mark prices: "People will be less likely to buy if they have to ask, `How much?'"

Be a good host: "Coffee and cookies encourage customers to linger, and a little salesmanship will catch their attention."

Remember the essentials: "To avoid theft, keep cash in a fanny pack. Keep old newspapers handy to package fragile items, and have some bags on hand for a buyer's carting convenience."

Donate the rest: "Charities like the Salvation Army and Goodwill will take many items, and some will even pick them up at one's home."

Kelly Haramis is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

Cleaning out the closets

Here are ways to give your well-used -- and well-loved -- leftovers a second life.

Single socks:

Fill it with catnip and knot the ends for a new kitty toy.

Hotel minis and makeup freebies:

Women's centers and homeless shelters can often use never-used makeup samples or those tiny soaps and shampoos from hotels.

Old athletic shoes:

Nike's "reuse-a-shoe" program grounds up old sneakers of any brand and molds them into playing courts and playgrounds. Details online at nikereuseashoe.com.


Your eyewear with outdated prescriptions or frames can find a new home through Lions Club International. Drop them off at any LensCrafters or Goodwill store.

Old T-shirts:

They make great dusters, rags and faux-finish paint brushes. HGTV suggests cutting them into squares and using them as baby wipes.

Knight Ridder/Tribune

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