Melissa from Te Atatu Peninsula, Tāmaki Makaurau chats with us about setting up a free garage sale
Q: Kia ora Melissa! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your neighbourhood?

I live in Te Atatu Peninsula in West Auckland. I was born in NZ but I grew up in British Columbia, Canada. I love my neighbourhood. It has a great community vibe and a sense of interconnectedness.

Q: So, a "free garage sale" sounds interesting! Can you break down what that's all about?

It’s all in the name! It’s just like a garage sale but everything is free! Pick a date. Share the idea with your neighbours (if you want to make it a street thing). Spread the word. Put out everything you want to give away on your verge for the day.

Q: Where did the idea for this come from?

People in my neighbourhood already put things out on the verge to give away. Why not get a few neighbours involved and call it a free garage sale! Everyone has a few things around they’d like to pass on, from books to toys the kids have outgrown and excess fruit and veg in their gardens and more.

Q: Spreading the word about a free garage sale must be an adventure. How do you get the community involved?

We have a very active Facebook group for our neighbourhood so that helps to get the word out. I also put little notes in everyone’s mailboxes down my street. Libraries, community centres, and even bus stops are great places to put up posters.

Q: What's the main goal or purpose of running one?

I think a free garage sale has so many benefits. It’s hard to pick just one. People meet and connect with their neighbours. It saves people money when they find something they need. It helps people declutter their homes and it keeps waste out of our landfills.

Q: Did you run into any challenges while setting up and running one?

I needed to get more commitment from people down my street to get the momentum going. This year, I will be doing some door knocking and having more face to face chats, rather than just delivering notices. I need to make sure there are several houses joining in. If not enough people are keen to join in, then I need to pick a date that works for more people. If I do it on my own, I need to spread the word more often in the lead up and on the day with Facebook posts and posters.

Q: Has it helped build stronger connections within your neighborhood?

Definitely. Every little bit helps. Every conversation and smile helps build connections. I know a little boy who walked away with a huge smile on his face and some free sunglasses will certainly come back again this year!

Q: Do you have any insider tips for those looking to host their own free garage sale?

Make sure you have some commitment from a few other houses on your street, if you want to make it a community event. The momentum will build from there. If you just want to do it on your own, the important thing is to spread the word so people will come on the day. Also on the day, it’s a good idea to share some photos on Facebook of what is on offer so more people will come.

Q: Anything else you'd like to share…

Give it a try! You have nothing to lose but a few items you want to give away anyway.

Keen to organise a free garage sale? Click here for a guide and a downloadable tool kit.