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Garage sales are a big part of retailing

Stored under In the News on June 13, 2006 at 10:14 AM
With Memorial Day crossed off the calendar for 2006, we're now into the prime season for what is one of America's biggest retail sectors, and its least understood.

Least understood, that is, in the sense that everyone knows what the form of retailing is, and has a pretty good idea of its importance in the commercial and cultural landscape, but no one can quantify just how extensive that importance really is.

That sector would be the garage sale.

Or yard sale, or tag sale, or rummage sale, the precise term depending not just on whether the sale itself is in a garage or spread out on a lawn or in a basement, but where in the country it's being held (the favored term can differ by region). For simplicity's sake, we'll stick to garage sale.

You can scour the Web and find plenty of advice on how to run a garage sale, and strategies on how to shop garage sales. Hard data and detailed history on garage sales, however, are hard to come by.

That's not surprising, given how widespread and decentralized the garage sale sector is. They're not run by companies, and there's no industry trade group, so there's no industrywide database to consult. While some municipalities or neighborhood associations require permits for garage sales, many (including Seattle) don't, so that avenue is out for measuring the extent of the industry.

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