May 7th, 2023

The sale is over for another year.  Friday’s weather was beautiful; sales were brisk and plentiful.  Saturday’s… not so great with light drizzle but people still came out to browse/shop/buy.  The folks from Angel’s Attic showed up a few minutes ahead of schedule and I didn’t have their map of the addresses needing pickup fully completed but I gave them what I had and the address listings.  That part of the process went very smoothly.  Our own sale was a bit muted this year.  I wasn’t able to clean out our garage the weekend prior since I was still recovering from a bout with pneumonia.  I got up early on Friday, May 5th to power-wash the garage in time to let it dry then put out the relatively small group of items we had for sale.  We may not participate in the actual sale next year unless one of our close friends or relatives needs to use our sale space.

I put out and retrieved two signs, the placement of the “pretty” rummage sale sign was kindly permitted by one of our participants whose location at the corner of 6th Avenue and 11th Street makes it highly visible on what are two well-used routes.  The other, “plain” sign was set up across from the east end of 6th Avenue on 19th Street as usual.

We had one interloper at an address on Sunrise Drive.  I stopped by on Friday afternoon to let that person know it was not too late to have their listing added to the group but that didn’t generate any interest.  I asked if the $12 participation fee was too high but never received a straight answer to that question.  I also asked if the interloper had seen our flyers since we were not able to place them in mailboxes this year.  I was told, “Yes, the flyers were ALL OVER the neighborhood” which I took as an admonishment for having created litter.  From *my* perspective April 15th was a very windy day and the flyers didn’t remain in the Public Opinion / Coteau Shopper magazine/paper holders very well at all.  It was also difficult to insert the flyers into the doors of the 170-ish homes in the area since most people lock their screen doors (as is their right to do).

I checked on the cost of having the US Post Office provide paid flyer delivery but it doesn’t appear they can cover the small area of our sale so I would need to pay for roughly 838 deliveries when I need only 170 to cover the addresses included in our sale area.  Here’s an interesting view of the USPS route map including our sale area, 57201-R006.  The best estimate I can come up with for the USPS to deliver to the over-sized coverage area of 838 residents is $158.38.  Since we typically have only 12-15 households participating each year the effective cost per participant would be $10 on top of other advertising costs.  This just doesn’t work out economically.  I may contact the post office next year to see if they can quote me a lower cost to deliver only to the 170 addresses or some other way of handling this.  One possibility is to ask our regular participants to take a stack of flyers and try to hand them out as much “in person” as possible.

Being pressed for time this year I was able to take only one photo, posted on the “Photos” page of this site.

I also documented my process of setting up the paid version of the website and how to embed the GoogleDoc spreadsheet for easy display and editing.  I started using an embedded spreadsheet a few years ago and it has been by far the easiest method to enter, update and maintain each participant’s items listings.  I can actually edit the listings “live” from my phone if needed when visiting participants who may require additions or deletions.

All in all I think it was a pretty good year for our 12 participants with a lot of sales activity.  Grandson Dexter sold out of his Rice Krispy treats fairly quickly and made back his investment of money and time.  For those of you who like the details here is an accounting of this year’s income and expenses:

Sunrise Rummage sale 2023 Budget
Participants Paid    
10 $12.00 $120.00 Income from participants, including us at 15 Sunrise
1 $50.00 $50.00 Jane Rokusek kindly paid $50 total, $38 as a ‘tip’
1 $12.00 $12.00 Roy kindly paid $12 but sold his items at Lyn Crocker’s #16 Sunrise
12 Total: $182.00  
Website hosting   $9.59 One month, from April 18-May 18
Flyer printing:   $42.00  
Tidbits   $20.00  
Total up-front costs $71.59  
Net remaining income to pay for Facebook ads: $38.82  
Facebook ads      
Date Transaction ID Amount Currency
5/6/2023 6234634256650087-12273437 $5.77 USD
5/5/2023 6118745518238961-12268953 $19.39 USD
5/4/2023 6031600486953472-12259507 $4.47 USD
5/3/2023 6098693890244129-12253647 $15.00 USD
5/2/2023 6108074019306111-12247229 $14.99 USD
  Total Amount Billed $59.62 USD
Meta Ads payment      
Payment Method: Ad Credit (free – does not count in total) I’m not sure why Facebook offered $30 in fee ads, but I took the offer
Date Transaction ID Amount Currency
5/5/2023 6207487866031390-12268952 $5.61 USD
5/5/2023 6120013638112152-12264839 $13.86 USD
5/4/2023 6227991977314315-12259506 $10.53 USD
5/2/2023 6221859857927527-12247228 $0.01 USD
  Total Amount Billed $30.01 USD
Over/Under   -$20.80 I came out slightly behind in 2023 but this is the first year I included website hosting


March 18, 2023

I converted the free site (sunriserummage.wordpress.com) to the paid site (www.sunriserummage.com) again today. Last year it cost $7/month. This year is $9/month. Inflation hits everything, I guess.

I figured out a couple of years ago that I can save a little money by paying month-to-month. Prior to that I had been paying around $50 annually for the lowest-cost hosting I could find. I only need the fancier features of paid hosting between mid-March and mid-May. So while last year it cost $14 for the two months this year it will come to $18 although I did find a coupon that saved me 10% for the first month. That’s almost a dollar saved!


March 12, 2023

Last year’s donation pickup did not go very well. I arranged to have three boy scouts from the local troop help load up donated items. The charitable organization out of Arlington, SD that agreed to do the pick-up was short-staffed and sent one somewhat-elderly gentleman to drive the U-Haul rental truck. I got a call from that gentleman shortly after the sale started on Saturday. He said his credit card had been denied at the U-Haul office in Webster. I provided my credit card info to get things moving again and he proceeded to pick up from about half the participating houses before taking the first load to Arlington.

Later that afternoon I got an e-mail from one of our participants asking when he was coming through to pick up the rest. After finally tracking him down through someone else (at a different phone number – he wasn’t answering the one he gave me) he told me he was too tired to make the trip again. Having no other option, I had to rely on Eric, the brother-in-law of Dallas Miller, owner of Aspen Tree Service. Dallas loaned DeAnna and me their flatbed trailer we used to display some of our items in our driveway. When Eric came up to pick up the flatbed, I asked him to drive me around the rest of the pick-up addresses. He also helped load up the items (because he was late for work of his own). We hauled the very full flatbed to the Salvation Army building. To my dismay I saw their sign saying they were full and not accepting donated items at that time. I am sorry to have to say this, but they ended up even more full that afternoon. I know our participants have gently used and otherwise good and useful items, so my guilt is by now assuaged. I am so very grateful of the help I received from Dallas with Aspen Tree Service.

I do not plan to contact the Arlington group this year and have asked a local group if they can help out. I went another $61 into the red last year as a result of paying for the U-Haul truck so this year I may end up furnishing our participants with names and telephone numbers of the local charitable organizations so they can arrange to take care of donated item. We’ll see how things go between now and mid-April, 2023.

May 15th, 2022

The sale is done. The total cost of the Facebook ads totaled $45.61. I think. Still having a hard time figuring out how Facebook charges for advertising. We had the best luck with Facebook this year. My sister-in-law took a straw poll at our address with the following results:

17 people said they heard about the sale in their Facebook feed
6 were word of mouth
11 saw the signs when driving by
One saw a flyer (poster?)
One saw the sale advertised in the Public Opinion
Two saw the ad in the Shopper

I think we’ll keep Facebook but drop the Public Opinion ad and possibly also the Shopper.

The donation pickup did NOT go off without a hitch. More about that when I have time to write about it.

DeAnna and I would like to make special mention of the help provided by her sister, Debbie, brother-in-law, John, friends Lynette, Linda, Jane and Joe who pitched in and helped make the sale at our location a huge success. We truly could not have done it without all your help, guys and gals! Your efforts were much appreciated. And also Dallas Miller at Aspen Tree Service who loaned us a trailer so we could display our merchandise. After the sale we were extremely grateful of Dallas’s generosity in letting us use his trailer and the additional help from his brother-in-law, Eric who helped pick up some of the donated items. Hats off to you both, Dallas and Eric!

Update for May 13th , 2022

The weather last night was frightening. Castlewood took a beating. We had strong, southerly winds but thankfully no serious damage.

It is just before 6am as I try to figure out how much I can let Facebook spend on advertising the sale. I should have set up a running tally of my expenses this year since we have quite a few participants but since I usually end up losing a little money, for a good cause, I don’t worry about it that much. Here goes, mostly from memory:

$14.00 for WordPress upgrade to a paid plan for http://www.sunriserummage.com
$7.00 estimate for GoDaddy domain registration of http://www.sunriserummage.com
$20.51 to print the flyers
$99.61 for ad placements in the Shopper and the Public Opinion
$15.00 for three ad placements in Tidbits of the Lake Area
$3.00 estimate for printing the color posters from my printer ($0.15/page x 20 posters)
$159.12 subtotal

We have 18 participants this year. We had 19 but one dropped out a day or two ago and said I could keep her money. I told her I would refund her money if it looks like there is any extra but at this point I don’t think there will be. I put in $10 for our address so between 19 participants including our address who put in $10 plus two kind souls who ‘tipped’ me an extra $10 and $20 I am currently at $220 (right?).

I scheduled the Facebook ads to start running yesterday, Wednesday, May 12th and scheduled them to stop on Saturday morning, May 14th at 9am CDT figuring anyone seeing the ad after that time wouldn’t have time to get here.

As of this writing Facebook has charged me $27.98. Here is a screen shot from the Meta ad manager:

So I’m at $187.10 as of now. I will probably see the Facebook ad cost another $30 which means I may be able to partially refund the participant that had to drop out of the sale, and this may mark the first year in, ever (?) where I didn’t end up losing a few bucks with the advertising costs. We don’t account for our gas cost to drive the 16.82 miles it takes to put up the posters. Here’s the route:

Sunrise Rummage Sale poster route (convenience stores, Starbucks, etc.)

More to come after the sale. Right now I need to go put price stickers on some of our stuff!

Update for May 1st, 2022

The weather as of today has been pretty awful. In the past several weeks we have had winds in excess of 50mph and temperatures well below normal. This weekend, Friday April 30th and Saturday, May 1st was an original candidate weekend for the sale. I am so very glad we chose to hold the sale a little later this year, avoiding Mother’s Day weekend and instead choosing May 13th and 14th. The weather should be much nicer by then.

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.

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