The resale marketplace has steadily grown since 2018, with 85% of US shoppers buying or selling secondhand goods in the last year. Online recommerce sites like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and Poshmark offer far-reaching resale opportunities, but one Sammamish resident has leveraged the classic brick-and-mortar–or rather concrete-and-grass–garage sale to raise thousands of dollars for a local non-profit.
For the past four years, Lisa Parkinson, 65, of Sammamish, has hosted a garage sale at her home in Heritage Hills, where she sells goods collected from the local community to raise money for Sammamish-based non-profit Songea’s Kids.
When the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the Songea’s Kids annual fundraising event in 2020, Parkinson, a regular volunteer for the organization, was disheartened to see donations decrease significantly. In response, she collected DVDs to sell, knowing that the lockdowns meant more movie viewing at home.
“I decided to collect DVDs from generous people in the local gifting groups, set them out on a table with an honor system collection jar, and see what happened,” Parkinson said. She raised $400 from that first secondhand DVD experiment.
The following year, in 2021, Parkinson held the yard-based fundraiser again and added books to the inventory. She raised around $800 that year.
In 2022 and 2023, Parkinson worked to raise even more, gathering items for the kitchen, crafting, and the outdoors, as well as home decor, games, and other common garage sale goods. She turned to the booming online recommerce marketplace for items, as well as to her personal network.
“[The goods come from] people in the Buy Nothing or Sammamish Gifting Group Facebook groups [or] someone who is moving or downsizing,” she said. “Sometimes [they come from] friends of mine [or] a friend of a friend, in addition to people who are active in Songea’s Kids.”
The garage sale has come a long way from the original DVD table. For the most recent event, Parkinson enlisted the help of friends who spent a day setting up and running the sale with her. In the end, Parkinson’s efforts and the 2023 garage sale raised $3,300 for Songea’s Kids.
Parkinson knows the value of a good resale find. Before embarking on her charitable mission, garage sales were a helpful resource for her own family.
“When my kids were little and money was tight, most of their clothes were garage sale finds,” Parkinson said.
Although based in Sammamish, Songea’s Kids benefits children in Tanzania. The organization helps fund the cost of care and education for at-risk children and their communities.
“Every dollar raised helps the kids in our program…they live in an extreme level of poverty that most Americans can’t even imagine,” Parkinson said.