Update for May 1st, 2021

Post-sale wind-down.  Ok, wine-down.  This year had its challenges but everything worked out well again this year.  A missed year seemed to add to pent-up demand for a rummage sale.  Although we had only 12 total households participating there seemed to be a lot of sales activity.  There was a LOT of stuff for sale at many of the locations.  Friday sales were brisk, perhaps due to that day being the best weather day in a long time.  Saturday was slower, with a more measured pace but a lot of sales were made just the same.

Special thanks goes again to My School Rocks of Arlington.  Robert and Arnold made the trip twice to pick up the donated items.  We had some issues with a group of people who wanted to pick through the items left at the curb.  Next year I would like our participants to mark their groups of donated items “Property of My School Rocks”.  One participant already did this at the end of the sale.  To me this is about making sure we keep My School Rocks’ interest in making the trip up here.  Thanks, guys, to a job well done (see photo above).

A special thanks also goes out to Gail W. and household.  They allowed their driveway to be used for temporary collection and storage of the donated items.  This helped Robert and Arnold to pick them up later in the day.

And thanks to others who kicked in a little extra cash to pay for my time and expenses.  You gals are great!

— Dave

Update for April 4, 2021 (Easter!)

It is great to be planning the rummage sale again this year.  I will be glad to just sort of forget most of 2020, the first year in my memory where we were unable to hold a sale at all, Spring or Fall.  As I read my post from 2019 I realize I forgot to bump up the $7 participant cost to $10 so I will probably lose money again this year.  If we manage to sell enough items to make up for it I will be happy.  Maybe next year we’ll go up to $10 per participant.  I am just glad to be having a sale this year so if I go under by $100 I will consider it a cost worth bearing.  (Hmmm, I wonder if the Sale would qualify for a PPE loan?  Yeah, probably NOT!)

As of this writing about a quarter of the population of South Dakota 16 and older has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.   Around half the state’s eligible population has received at least one dose.  It seems plausible that by the first day of the sale more than half of our people will be fully vaccinated.  Coupled with the number of people who have already had COVID and may retain some level of immunity it isn’t out of the question that we could be near or at ‘herd immunity’ by the first day of the sale, although as I write this cases in SD are on the rise.  So at least as of now it seems unlikely that we will need to cancel this year’s sale, especially since by now many of us are pretty good at maintaining good health practices during a pandemic.

I will leave it to our various participants whether or not to wear their masks during their sales as well as practice and request their customers to also practice social distancing.  We haven’t decided how we at 15 Sunrise will handle this during our sale but I can envision putting up signs asking customers to mask and distance as well as wearing masks ourselves.  We’ll just have to see what things look like later this month.

The following from March of 2020 was one of the saddest posts I have ever had to make on the Sunrise Rummage website;

To: All Sunrise Drive Area Rummage Sale Participants and longtime friends of the Sale.
Based on the current situation with the recent strain of Coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes it seems wise to postpone the Spring rummage sale until conditions are safer for such an event.  I thought about waiting for a couple of weeks to send this out but as of now it seems highly unlikely conditions will improve by then.  I think this will be the first time in perhaps 40 years there won’t be a Spring sale.  Let me know if you have any concerns or comments regarding this.
Many years ago there were sales on each side of Summer so maybe this is the year to bring back the Fall sale.   Assuming things look better later in the year I may send out a notice to see if anyone is interested in trying for a Fall version of the Sunrise Drive Area Rummage Sale.  I’m thinking.. September or October maybe?
Of course there’s nothing stopping any of you from having a sale of your own.  We here at 15 Sunrise will not be having a sale this year.
Wishing you and yours health and safety during these trying times.
Warmest regards,
PS: Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and that just plain soap works better than sanitizer (not to mention being cheaper and easier to find!).


Update for 2019:

I can’t say enough good things about My School Rocks, a charitable organization with locations in De Smet, Arlington and Sioux falls.  After a different local charitable group reneged on their offer to pick up the donated items post-sale I was left stranded with few options.  Luckily My School Rocks had been in the area asking for donations.  I noticed their brochure mentioned that they accept donated items so I contacted Janet Coleman who was happy to take on the process of picking up our participants’ donatable items.  This was a great relief to me since I have had at times had difficulty finding groups that were interested in taking part in this process.  My wife, DeAnna canvassed a few local charitable groups, only to be told “oh, rummage sales leave behind only junk” or words to that effect.  There were a few “God bless you” comments thrown in but it was clear that that our local charities weren’t all that interested in helping.  After this year’s the sale there were many items available to charitable organizations such as My School Rocks.   They truly did yeoman’s work of helping us out this year, and I hope for years to come.  Yay!  Yay-and-a-half!

The My School Rocks crew:


The 2019 financial breakdown:

2019 Sunrise Rummage Sale expenses and income   5-May-19
Expense Amount Date
sunriserummage.com domain hosting for two years $32.34 27-Mar-18
Ad placement, 3 weeks – Tidbits of the Lake Area $15.00 27-Mar
Printed 175 flyers at the UPS Store $27.96 5-Apr-19
Ad for the Coteau Shopper $6.50 24-Apr-19
PO ad for Thursday, May 2nd $144.00 2-May-19
PO ad for Friday, May 3rd $18.00 3-May-19
Facebook post boost $20.00 4-May-19
Total of expenses: $263.80  
Income from participants (17@$7, 4@$10, 1@$3) $162.00  
Net for 2019: -$101.80  

I may need to increase the sign-up cost from $7 to $10 next year.  I saw this coming so I took a straw poll of our 2019 participants and pretty much everyone agreed that $10 wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for next year’s sale participation.  Even with that I would still be out around $40 so I may pare down next year’s Thursday PO ad to include only one or two featured items per participant in an effort to reduce the $144 down to around $100.

Watertown’s Sunrise Drive Rummage Sale started in the 1980s, or so we believe.  If anyone knows of the first sale date please let me know so I can update this.  In 2016 we had a customer who told us that she had been coming to the Sunrise Rummage sale for “at least 40 years”.  I have wanted to refer to our sale as “Watertown’s longest-running rummage sale” but haven’t researched this.  I may take a day and visit the Watertown Public Opinion archives to see if I can track down the first published sale advertisement.

When I first started participating there were two sales, one in the Spring and another in the Fall. Somewhere along the way the Fall sale was discontinued.  I have been administrating the sale since the late 1990s which is when the website was first created.  Here is what the site looked like in 2013.  I did a complete facelift of the site in 2015 including the new logo featuring the sun in something that to me looks like a spoon with a butterfly and a ladybug on blades of grass in the forefront.

And here I’ll ramble on… (2016) There are only two items that create out-of-pocket expenses: running the copies of the flyers and the ads in the Coteau Shopper and PO.  When I can catch it UPS runs a good deal of printing and folding 175 flyers.  When I don’t it costs around $30.  The PO’s Thursday ad containing all the listings is based on column-inches so it works out to be somewhat proportional as we gain or lose participants.  The total PO advertising cost this year was $116.40 so including the flyer printing my outlay was $127.53.  A few participant’s “tipped” me a dollar two so at 21 total participants (counting our own sale) it came out pretty much break-even.  I told of few participants yesterday when I distributed the “Garage Sale” placards that I lost a few bucks this year but it looks like $6 is still the right number so I’ll probably do the same next year.  One year when we had a small surplus I used it to buy professional signs I place at the intersections of 6th Ave and 19th St; 3rd Ave and 13th St and 6th Ave and 11th St.  If we have another surplus some year I will probably buy a fourth sign for 5th Ave and 11th St or some other key location.  One of our signs was stolen in 2010.  I posted up a “please return” plea but never heard what happened to it.

More ramblings:
When we first moved to Watertown in 1985 we HATED rummage sale weekend and would arrange our out-of-town trips to avoid being home during it.  I’m not sure of the exact year where things flipped around and we stayed home and later actually (gasp!) taking part in it but I believe it was in the 1990s which is when I set up the first website.  In 2014 I gave the site a nice makeover and updated the logo.

My son has been hosting the site for free on a server that he wants to decommission so this year (2018) the search will be on to find a new, low-cost host.  I don’t think there are any hosts who allow partial-year website hosting so I will no doubt have to pay for a full year.  In theory I could set up new hosting each year but the amount of work involved isn’t worth the cost savings.

In 2018 I paid for our first ad on Facebook.  I couldn’t find a way to restrict the area of coverage so I had to pay for the ad to be run throughout all of South Dakota.  This didn’t seem right to me but I was in a hurry to get the ad placed so I did it anyway.  As I write this the first day of the 2018 sale I can’t tell if the Facebook ad did any good.  I may take a straw poll of some of our customers to see if they saw the ad.  Facebook’s ad metrics show a lot of data about views but don’t really tell me how effective the ad placement might be.  If anyone reading this knows more about Facebook advertising than I do (which isn’t very much) and is willing to help please contact me.

The Process

The process starts in March when my annual reminder pops up that I need to start considering dates for the upcoming sale.    I usually send out a ‘feeler’ e-mail in early March to see if anyone knows of conflicts for the chosen dates.  We usually try for the first Friday/Saturday in May but also avoid having the sale on the weekend of Mother’s Day which is the second Sunday in May.  In 2016 this meant having the sale the last two days of April, which in my recollection is the first time that has happened.  The weather does what it wants but I always feel responsible somehow if it turns bad.  One year we had rain and sleet so many (most?) of our participants held their sales over for the following weekend.
Once the dates are set I create the flyer to get it ready for distribution.   With DeAnna driving like a half-crazed letter carrier and me stuffing mailboxes it takes us 45 minutes to deliver 170 flyers over the four miles of streets in the area shown on the map.  We had a printing error in 2018 whereupon the previous year’s flyer was printed and distributed, although I had sent the correct PDF to the printing company.  They graciously printed the correct flyer but my son and grandson had already distributed the wrong one.  This was as much my fault as the printing company since I should have proof-read the flyers before handing them out.  DeAnna and I did the drive again and handed out new flyers a couple of weeks later.  This may have actually netted us a few additional participants.  If so I guess it was worth the extra trouble.

A few years ago we extended the area to include a portion of 7th Ave based on a request from a person who wanted to be included on the north side of Harper Park.  A participation fee of $6 per household puts the break even point of the sale at around 20 participants.  The ad placed in the Watertown Public Opinion is the largest cost driver at a little over $100.

We also drive around to distribute posters at as many convenience stores as possible which ends up being around 15.  A few other businesses allow posters so we put those up as well.

The above writings are a work in progress.  I’ll continue adding when time permits.

Dave LeVasseur