News Alert — Donation Nation to Become Garage Sale Shanty Town

by Katy on January 6, 2011 · 19 comments

Help, I'm drowning in 2010 Goodwill donation receipts!

If you’re like most Americans, you wait until the absolute last minute to donate to your area’s charitable thrift stores. The combination of the end of year unwanted crap-fest, with the tasty tax deduction is too good to pass up.

Gee, aunt Myrtle — thanks for the off-brand salad spinner/scented gnome candle set/gold plated Elvis statuette!

I, for one, have kept the donation train chugging along throughout the entirety of 2010. So much so, that I ended up donating to Goodwill the somewhat embarrassing number of thirty times! Thirty! Thirty. No, I’m neither a hoarder, nor a recovering hoarder, I just seem to accumulate a lot of unwanted stuff. Old towels, books, clothes, toys, stuffed animals, soccer equipment, you name it, I’ve donated it.

But my twelve-year-old son and I just did a huge decluttering/cleaning of his room and a lot of the discards still held some decent resale value. I sold a few things at the consignment shop, but instead of dumping the remainder at Goodwill, I decided to start a garage sale stash in my big ol’ basement.

I put together two one-day garage sales in 2009 and was able to glean around $700 from our unwanted crap belongings. (It helped that my husband has always picked up vintage cameras from thrift stores, and that a dealer showed up nice and early to pay us a couple hundred bucks for them.) Keep in mind that this was during full recession panic era, so people were holding tight to their dollars and cents. I have two, count ’em two Japanese exchange trips to pay for in 2012, which I estimate will set us back around $5000, and honey, even Coin Girl can’t find that much change on the ground.

My son’s Iron Giant stuffed robot didn’t make the cut, so I checked on eBay to see how much they’re going for. And guess what? There’s an admittedly new-in-box twin robot selling for $500, so I’ll sell that puppy cyber-style.

So yeah, our taxes will be flush with charitable donations for 2010, but there’s really nothing like cash in hand. Especially when a certain non-consumer type has an addiction to Japanese youth exchanges. And I know that I came across another stash of vintage cameras somewhere . . . .

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth L. January 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I donate to Goodwill/Salvation Army/various other chairtable thrift stores throughout the year. Once I have a big bag of stuff, I take it. It gets it out of my house. I prefer it that way. But that’s also why I’ve never had a garage sale. I can’t stand to have all the stuff piled up everywhere. If I decide to get rid of it, it needs to go now.


Katy January 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Luckily, I have a big house.



Megg January 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Completely unrelated, I think this year I am going to visit garage sales!
I had a very unsuccessful garage sale once (before I knew about Craigslist) and have since decided that it’s too much work. But! I commend your decision! 🙂


Trish [ modern thrifter ] January 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I usually have a little stash of things in a closet that are waiting to go to Goodwill. About once a month, I gather them up and drop them off. I just got an invitation to a clothing/toy/household item exchange that a friend is hosting and I realized that I really have nothing to exchange—it’s all been donated.


Katy January 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm

My garage sales were successfully partially because I listed most of the good items individually on craigslist, saying to come to the garage sale to see them. (I was conscientious to delete the listings as they sold.) I think all of these items sold.

Gotta get the word out!



Dmarie January 9, 2011 at 9:57 am

wow, that’s genius! thx for the idea


Leigh January 6, 2011 at 10:34 pm

I have an entire half of our garage (okay, maybe only half of the half) stacked with items that are all considered “sell”. A huge pile went the way of “donate” and a substantially smaller pile exists under “keep/sort/store”. The downside of living in a house too small for the combined belongings of a marriage over four years ago!

But I did make one last treck to the thrift store back door on December 31st!


Katy January 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Don’t forget to keep some things that can go into a “free box.” Then, you can do a craigslist free listing, which are watched like hawks.



Jo@simplybeingmum January 7, 2011 at 3:09 am

Had to comment when you left such a great tweet! Firstly – taxes pants! Doing my UK return this morning pants pants pants! Secondly I know quite a bit about charity retailing and how much they depend on quality donations so I salute you Katy for the 30 donations – good job! Thirdly I too last year did a ‘car boot’ sale instead of donating and generated quite a bit of cash. In fact I had so much fun I gave things away because I didn’t want to bring them home – I like to think a little bit of ‘goodwill’ to all men. Fourthly I have decided this year instead of donating to a charity shop I am going to do a car boot sale and what I generate give to a charity that doesn’t have shops. Finally (I can hear the sigh of relief) I have been a pathetic understudy for Coin Girl. Last January (I think) I purchased a piggy bank from a charity shop just for this purpose and have collected just 30 pence in a year – not enough to buy a pint of milk. The End 😉


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl January 7, 2011 at 3:13 am

I wish I had some storage space to do this. As it is, in a not-super-large house occupied by 6 people, I usually have to get rid of things promptly.

I hope you earn lots of moola, though, you big-basement-person-you!


Reese January 7, 2011 at 6:41 am

30 times! Man. I thought I was rockin’ with my 3-4 donations. Me and TFH were saving boxes of things for a garage sale this year… but then we realized we live on a street with no parking, didn’t have tables to set up things, and just didn’t want to sacrifice a weekend day to a garage sale. So all those boxes? Had to go. They were sitting on all of our Christmas stuff! Instead of donating to Goodwill or Salvation Army, we found a local church that was having a rummage sale and needed items. We donated everything (about 20 boxes/bags in total) to them. I felt good about it 🙂


Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary January 7, 2011 at 9:55 am

I need to take a page from you and start getting more things out of the house. It’s just so … overwhelming. I clear out and clear out and clear out, but there’s still so much left. Oy!


Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary January 7, 2011 at 9:58 am

PS: What the heck is that behind you in the picture? Do you keep advertisements on your piano?


Katy January 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Behind me is an original painting from a Tasty Kake advertisement. My husband grandparents did all the advertising art for Philadelphia’s Tasty Cake company for decades.

This painting is way cool.



Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary January 10, 2011 at 6:38 am

That *is* uber-cool. I couldn’t put the “non-consumer” and “advertising” together, but now of course it makes great sense! How fun to have his grandparents’ artwork.


Atsquared January 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

Our garage sale pile has also begun. 🙂 We are slowly getting rid of battery-operated toys and the ones they don’t play with, while creating a wishlist of wooden and fabric toys that demand imagination. It’s certainly a process, but if it earns us a few dollars, I will be happy! I’m excited to sort through the rest of the house as well, and sell the other things that are getting in the way of our life in our new house.


Karen January 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I’m so glad to get rid of stuff at Goodwill that I rarely wait to get receipts for it, I just jump back in the car and drive away! I am also a die hard GW shopper, but I buy a lot less than I donate, thank the gods.

Savers, a nearby thrift store, will give donors a 20% off coupon, so I always save them a couple bags of stuff, too, so I can prowl around in the store for some essential. Life is good!


robbiekay January 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm

You are fortunate to have a space where you can store things for a garage sale. The topic of having a garage sale often comes up in our household because we’d love to have the income a yard sale would bring in, but it always comes down to the fact that I don’t know where we would store the stuff in the meantime and stage the yard sale; DH’s house was already full before we got married and moved in my stuff. The only difference is now the garage is full of stuff, too. As much as I’d like to make some extra money, my attitude is usually, “Just get this stuff out of here!” We do tend to donate to Goodwill because it is convenient, but I feel especially good when we can donate to the Humane Society for Southwest Washington’s thrift shop as that is a charity near and dear to my heart (not only am I an animal lover, my admitted favorite of our four pets was adopted from there).


Laura January 8, 2011 at 12:12 am

I only have 4 donation slips from Goodwill from this last year, but the total from those 4 came to $728!!! I’m excited to see the look on my husband’s grandma (who does our taxes)’s face when she sees those lol!


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