Oak Bay resident Marya Nijland raised more than $1

Hey Oak Bay. Want to turn your trash into cash?

Marya Nijland shares her secret for garagellenium sale success

  • May. 31, 2013 6:00 a.m.

Oak Bay resident Marya Nijland used last year’s Garagellennium event to raise money to help relocate a refugee Palestinian family to Canada. Her garage sale raised more than $1,000.

“I saw it in the paper, Garagellennium, and I thought that sounds like a good idea,” Nijland said. “It was a big success. You wouldn’t believe it.”

The family had been living in a refugee camp in al-Hol, Syria for six years. A group of church members in Oak Bay came together to raise the needed funds, and Nijland, as she often does, had been helping out with the effort.

With donated items from other people involved in the fundraising and a team of volunteers ready to help with the sale, Nijland raised the money in one day, selling everything from books to records to art to household items.

The money from the garage sale was combined with money from multiple other fundraisers, including Middle Eastern dinner nights, to make up the thousands of dollars needed to give the family a fresh start in Canada.

Nijland is reluctant to reveal details about the family, but said they have been relocated and are doing well.

Registration for the 14th annual Garagellennium, which takes place June 8 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. is now open.

Volunteer organizer Graham Lamb said the event typically sees 150 to 200 people sign up for sales and draws in shoppers from all over Greater Victoria.

Lamb said many people choose to hold fundraiser garage sales during the event. Because it’s free to register and is a high-profile event, it’s a great opportunity to raise money for a good cause.

“A lot of people do have sales and they give back to the community or various groups in some ways,” said Lamb. “I encourage people to give back.”

From her experience last year, and at many other garage sales – “I could call myself the ‘garage lady,’” – Nijland has tips for others hoping to use their Garagellennium sale to raise money for a cause.

To raise as much money as possible, ask others involved with the fundraising and anyone else you know, to donate items to sell. Many people are willing to drop off all kinds of items when it’s for a good cause.

Organization is essential for making a garage sale open and inviting to customers. The easier the shopping for the customer, the more likely they are to buy something, Nijland said. So putting the books together with the spines easily visible is a good idea, as is spreading out tools for sale on a tarp.

“You pile things in categories. Knick-knacks with knick-knacks,” Nijland said. “It’s important to sort things out.”

Providing information about your cause also helps customers know what their money will go toward – and perhaps entice them to spend a little more. Pamphlets or an informational poster are two ideas.

If you have volunteers, make sure they are well fed, protected from sun and rain and have the chance to take a break about every two hours or so, Nijland said.

Items that don’t sell can be donated or taken to second-hand stores, such as Value Village.

The deadline to register for Garagellennium is June 3. Registration is free and includes a signage kit, to be picked up at Oak Bay Copy Centre (2917A Cadboro Bay Rd.).

Register online at oakbaygaragesale.com.

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