Everyone is starting to gather in the designated spot, lugging boxes and bags of meticulously priced items with them. Suddenly, cat-fights began to erupt as people vie for the prime table space and argue over items they want for themselves. Sadly, a community garage sale can turn into this kind of mess pretty quickly without some rules in place, so if you're afraid you might run into a similar situation, here are some tactics to improve relationships during a community sale.
When you gather the community together to plan the sale, hold a lottery for the prime spots. Have each person's name placed into a hat, then draw them out, with the random order indicating who gets to choose first, second, third, etc. on sale day. This tactic will work whether you are providing table space or just allowing people to choose where they set up their own materials. However, since some people may take up more than one table, you should make sure that the sections are fairly portioned off before you allow people to choose.
Also in that initial meeting, appoint an arbitrator whose word becomes law should they have to step into any issues between community members. This should be someone known for their ability to be fair and unbiased, and who is willing to listen to any problem, no matter how petty, and pass judgment on the situation. Clearly state to all that the arbitrator is going to be in charge of stepping in between fighting hosts, and that if they must be called to make a decision, all must abide by it. If you need to, devise some way to ensure that everyone follows this simple rule.
Decide ahead of time who gets to choose the atmospheric elements -- decorations, music, and anything else that sets the mood. Some people are more into this kind of thing than others, so you should give them priority (willing hands are much better than forced workers!), but use a first-come, first-served basis for the decorating committee. Too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth, remember, so keep the number of decorators small.
If people want to watch the tables for each other while others take breaks or time for lunch, plan a workload cycle so that everyone has their fair share of work and time to relax. Have everyone who is willing to watch others' tables and have theirs watched by others sign up for a break slot, and then devise how you'll need to rotate everyone to keep all stations manned.
If you are close with the people in your community, you'll know who fights and who doesn't. Keep the fighting-prone people separate, by putting them on opposite sides of the area if possible. That way, you prevent bad blood from stirring up trouble where it need not exist.
To avoid pricing woes, come up with a uniform price system, which people can adhere to if they wish. That way, no one is undersold on accident or cheated out of what they thought was a bargain they were offering because they aren't sure how to price things at a garage sale.
Have any community sale tips? Any community sale stories? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and then come visit GarageSaleCow.com for more great tips!