Been to a garage sale yet this summer? It’s not too late to catch bargains in your own neighborhood or even at a bit of a distance, if you know where to look. Drive around your town most any weekend, and you’re likely to see garage sale signs posted on several residential corners. But there’s an easier way (and one that takes less gas) than cruising the neighborhood to look for bargains: GarageSalesTracker.com.
Blue Planet Green Living spoke today with GarageSalesTracker.com‘s head of marketing, Rich Ruddie, who assists founder Franz Longsworth with everything from “answering emails to contacting people about working together, to taking phone calls like this, to customer support, and everything in between.” We think this is a great idea that’s sure to catch on. It will become an even more helpful resource as more of us sign on to post our garage sales. (What’s not to like about free advertising?) — Julia Wasson, Publisher
BPGL: How did the site get started?
RUDDIE: It came about when Franz was driving around and saw a garage sale sign. He wondered if anyone had ever thought to advertise their garage sales on line instead of always just putting out signs. He looked into it, and didn’t find much of use. He decided to make a site that was easy to use, specifically with the bargain hunter in mind for garage sales, flea markets, and estate sales. He added the Google map feature, which allows the user, when you sign up, to get turn-by-turn directions from your home address to the garage sale. That way, people don’t have to waste money on gas trying to find the address.
BPGL: What are some of the services that folks will find on your site?
RUDDIE: The garage sales, yard sales, and estate sales that users can list with us. We also work with a handful of local publications and a service in Wisconsin, as well, called Rummage Wisconsin. We syndicate their data to help expand listings come the weekend. We also have the directory that we built of all the consignment stores that are publicly listed, as well as the flea markets in the country. If you’re in Dubuque, and you wanted to type in Dubuque flea markets, you’ll find a listing of a handful of those. It’s got the address and contact information (if the number they gave us is valid). So that’s really cool.
We also have the iPhone app. If you have either an iPod Touch or an iPhone, you can go right from your phone, turn it on. It will find where you are, and you can find all the sales within whatever radius you’re willing to travel. If you’re willing to travel 10 miles within your area, it will show you all the garage sales for that particular week. And the really cool thing about that is, you can then hit MAP, and with the GPS function built into the iPhone, it will show exactly where you are, where the sale is, how many miles it is, and then it will give you directions to the sale.
BPGL: Where can users find estate sales listed?
RUDDIE: The estate sales are listed in with garage sales. We don’t have those separated at this time. Eventually, we’re thinking of setting up a particular area just for estate sales and antique shops.
BPGL: What is the advantage to joining the site?
RUDDIE: The advantage is, when you register with the site, if you’re browsing sales and don’t know where all those sales are, when you have your information in there and go to find a sale, it will already populate from your home address to the address that you’re trying to go to. Also, if you see somebody is having a sale and they’re selling board games or a dart board that you want to get, you can send them an email right through the form. They can email you back without your giving up your email address.
BPGL: Presumably somebody would say, “Would you hold onto that dart board for me? I’ll pay you extra — or something like that.
RUDDIE: Absolutely. I listed a sale we were having, and I got a couple people who said, “Hey, can I come early? I want to grab that couch. Do you have any extra photos?” We actually ended up having our programmer, when he did a little bit of a redesign, he added in an Early Bird section to say whether early birds are welcome or not welcome. Or, rain or shine, you can come. That’s where the idea came. A lot of people make a living from garage sales. They come early to as many sales as they can before the sun comes up, and they end up selling the stuff on Craig’s List or eBay or something like that, and they turn a nice little profit.
BPGL: That’s a useful thing to be able to say, “Early Birds welcome” or “Don’t you dare!”
RUDDIE: I’ve written a lot of helpful tips and advice for having garage sales. A lot of people do tell me, “Let the people know whether early birds are welcome or not, because if you don’t, you can guarantee they’ll be knocking on your door before everything’s all set up. If you’re trying to set up at 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning, you’ll have a guy knocking on your door already, and he or she is trying to purchase some of your antiques, it’s going to slow you down from setting up. It can throw your whole day off.
BPGL: Do you write the blog, Rich?
RUDDIE: I write most of them. But Blogger changed the way they do things, and now we have to go to a custom subdomain, blog.garagesalestracker.com. So the programmer is busy, and unfortunately we haven’t been able to update the blog and make those changes yet. I’ve wrote up a whole bunch of posts in anticipation of whenever the blog comes back on line.
BPGL: Is there a charge for using GarageSalesTracker.com?
RUDDIE: It’s completely free. People ask us all the time. It is free listings. We hope to make money eventually from advertisers, because we have targeted demographics.
BPGL: What’s your personal passion about all this, Rich? Why are you doing this?
RUDDIE: Every Saturday and Sunday, my mom and I would go to garage sales and yard sales and flea markets. I’m originally from Maryland, and there were a couple flea markets that we always went to in the summertime. I came to school down in South Florida, and I ran into a friend who told me that his uncle was working with the gentleman who founded a garage sales website. He put us in touch and got me in. And here I am today, doing my part. I told my mom, “Hey, we always used to go to garage sales, and I got an opportunity with this really cool concept. It’s a new idea that hasn’t really been done.” She said, “You’ve gotta go for it!”
The other main reason is that I like to live by a motto to leave the world a better place than you found it. Hopefully, the next generation can expand upon that concept, and make the world better than they found it, and the cycle will continue on forever. That includes recycling, and having a comprehensive site for bargain hunters will help expand that vision of re-usable goods.
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