birdflapWatertown’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.  I may take a day and visit the Watertown Public Opinion archives to see if I can track down the first advertised sale ad.

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.  We believe it may be Watertown’s longest-running sale. Dave LeVasseur March, 2015 Update for April 30, 2016: We had a customer for yesterday’s sale 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.  Maybe someday I’ll check the PO archives at the library to see if there is any evidence for this claim.

And here I’ll ramble on… 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.  I found that UPS runs a pretty good deal of printing and folding 175 flyers for just over $11.  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 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.

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 middle 1990s which is when I set up the first website.  Here’s what the site looked like in 2013.  In 2014 I gave the site a nice makeover and updated the logo.

The Process

The process starts in March when my annual reminder pops up that I need to start considering dates for the upcoming sale.  The weather does what it wants but I always feel responsible somehow.  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.  When we first started participating, and I’m not sure what year that was, there were two annual sales; one in the Spring, the other in the Fall.  Somewhere along the way it devolved into just one sale in the Spring.

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.

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.

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

Dave LeVasseur