Lessons Learned From a Ridiculously Huge Fundraising Yard Sale

It has been a week since our adoption yard sale…which looked more like a flea market, or outdoor goodwill than a yard sale… and I have come out of hibernation.

The four-day event feels like a distant blur. Then I look at our adoption savings account and see the extra almost $9000 that was our half of the total raised. UNBELIEVABLE!!!! We netted $17,896 that was split between us and the Phipps family. OH MY STARS!!!!!! That is a crazy amount of cash for a weekend sale that struggled with rain showers off and on.

I thought I would share a few lessons we learned and then a few highlight pictures.

  • God provides and blesses…and that is most often accomplished via people
  • Things are so so so much better done in community
  • Work harder than those volunteering to serve for you
  • Spend a little bit extra to make sure you do it right 
  • Never under-estimate how even showing up for an hour to help can mean to someone
  • Trash blows really really far in stormy weather 
  • God whispers and reveals himself in the midst of chaos and crazy. Breath deep and listen and watch for Him
  • Once you touch that much stuff, you may never want to buy another item ever ever again (well until you walk into Target…who can resist that??)
  • People can get really mean over $1. Just let it go
  • People will steal from you. Just let it go 
  • Be prepared to say you are sorry b/c you will hurt some people’s feelings in the midst of the crazy 
  • People donate weird weird things…but when those items are unpacked it will bring much-needed laughter 
  • I love teenagers. They are amazing
  • I have the best family (on both sides) I could ever hope for 
  • I have the best friends I could ever hope for 
  • Put sunscreen on your lips even if it is cloudy (mine were two times their size from being burned)
  • Leave a borrowed facility cleaner than you found it
  • God sees you and He will remind you of that in really profound ways every single day 
  • Eat lots of protein 
  • People buy wet rained on stuff and lots of it
  • Even if you only sleep a few hours at night and leave in the pitch black…Remember to pluck your eyebrows and chin hairs they grow long over three days and you are standing in the sunshine were other people see your face very clearly… profound I know 
  • Chick fil a waffle fry boxes are the best boxes in the history of all mankind
  • If someone donates stuffed animals…get rid of them immediately. Don’t bring them in your house. Don’t waste space and energy storing them. B/c they are really nasty when they get rained on. They stink. And you will hate stuffed animals for the rest of your life
  • If you want to do a sale the size we did be prepared to do NOTHING but yard sale prep for weeks and weeks and weeks prior to the sale
  • People will donate more and larger items if you can pick it up from them
  • Don’t price items prior to the sale
  • Sell clothes by the bag
  • If you can, rent storage PODS to hold your donated items rather than storage units and uhauls. Then you only have to pack the donated items one time. We had 6 large PODS and 7 truck loads to reach our total raised
  • Start getting donations 2 months out
  • Your kids will think it is REALLY fun the first month but will be DONE by month 2
  • Fed your volunteers at the sale
  • Make sure you have round the clock care for your other kids
  • Wear really comfy shoes
  • Cut all your finger nails totally off before you even start preparing so you don’t get ticked every time you break another one. Just let it go
  • Eat Advil like it is candy
  • Remind yourself every few minutes WHY you are running a flea market so that the crazy people don’t make you crazy too
  • Enjoy it. Don’t complain. Every single item donated and every single item purchased is getting you one step closer to your kiddo/kiddos

It started with this…

Yard Sale


Then is began to look like this….



Inside my house


Then Saturdays started to be all about packing another storage POD



Then it was set up time. But we had to wait for the rain to stop

photo 1-2 copy 2

photo 2-2 copy

photo 1-2 copy

This is what it looked like by 8am Thursday morning!!!

photo 2-3 copy


There was a massive storm followed by an AMAZING DOUBLE RAINBOW!! We took that as God’s promise to us that He was going to provide, protect, and supply what both families needed!!!






A few of those crazy donated items I mentioned above!!!!




We had a huge tent donated to us b/c there was more rain on the way!!!



We started slashing prices…..





The kids had a great time!!!





We had  AMAZING volunteers!!!! THERE is NO WAY we could have done it without them!!!




It started out WET



But people shop in the rain and buy wet things…go figure….

photo 3-3 copy 2

And God reminded me of this bright and early that morning as I was sorting items…. He has such a funny sense of humor

photo 2-3 copy 2

And sweet friends showed up in the rain, with a DP in hand to work

photo 1-3 copy

And get muddy doing it….

photo 4-1 copy 2




And then by 6 pm Saturday it was OVER. Finished. DONE!!!!!!!



And I will be so deeply deeply grateful for all those who gave, worked, shopped, encouraged, and supported us along the way!!!!!!

The “Ottiphipps Yard Sale” is in the books!!!!!



2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned From a Ridiculously Huge Fundraising Yard Sale”

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