Mary Falconer-Williams, advertising writer

I lived in the same house from birth to college graduation. Needless to say, I amassed quite a lot of stuff in that time. When I moved in to my first apartment I took only the necessities. Walking out of the door I vowed to my parents that I would return someday to claim and clean out my years of possessions now taking up space in their attic. With no clearly stated expiration date, my mother still had my brotherís ďSix-Million Dollar ManĒ board game stored in her closet some 30 years later.

But now the time has come to clean out the boxes and find new homes for all the Barbies and other items I had stashed away.

It is time to turn to one of the great summer traditions, the garage sale.

Garage sales present a great opportunity to rid your home of the stuff you no longer need or want. If you are moving, why box up something you donít need and move it to your new home where it will just take up valuable storage space?

Sold on the idea of hosting your own sale? Here are six tips to get you started.

Collect your merchandise

Every time you come across something you no longer need, throw it in a box marked garage sale. When that box fills up, start another one. About a week before your sale date, go through your house from top to bottom and collect the rest of the items you want to sell.

Get organized

Once youíve collected your merchandise, organize the items. Put like items together. Make sure everything is neat and clean. (Who wants to buy someone elseís dust?) Purchase items like price tag stickers. Stock up on bags. And donít forget to have cash on hand for making change.

Join forces

Check around with your friends and neighbors. Odds are good that someone else would like to have a sale as well. By joining forces youíll gain a second person to help with sales, assistance with the clean up at the end of the day and the ability to take bathroom breaks.

Advertise your sale

Did you know that the Akron Beacon Journal prints a map of area garage sales that are advertised in the paper every Friday from May to September? Itís a fabulous tool for anyone looking at visiting sales in the area, and itís a great way to get the message out about your own sale.

And donít forget about signage! If you live on a quiet street then be sure to put signs announcing your sale by the nearest busy intersection. This will help to drive more traffic your way. Be sure to check on the laws for posting signs in your area before you staple anything to an existing pole.

Think like a retail store

Make sure that your pricing is in a prominent place and that every item is visible. Group like items together on the same table. You can even get a little creative with your displays. If you are selling fine dishes, donít just stack them on a table. Place them on a nice tablecloth or group them in place settings. Always put your big-ticket items, like childrenís play sets or sports equipment, in a space where they will be visible from the road.

Throw a super sale on the last day

If you still have a lot of items left on your last day, have a super sale. You could offer all you can fit in a plastic bag for $1 or create a box of items that are free-with-purchase.

Once your sale is over, any remaining items can be donated to local charities such as Goodwill.

Garage sales are a great way to make a little money by letting go of the items that you no longer need. If you are relocating, a garage sale could equal one or more boxes that you donít have to pack up and move. But donít forget to take part in that other summer garage sale tradition, the post-sale ice cream stand trip to celebrate all your hard work!