With yard sales on hold, some have resorted to the tried and true method of a “free” sign at the end of a driveway to get rid of useable items. 


Stuck at home with time on our hands, the good news is that many of us are cleaning out our closets, junk drawers, basements and garages. The bad news is we’ve got no place to get rid of all that stuff. 

Trash collection surges

Lia Hass of Quality Disposal Systems trash and recycling collection based in Ogilvie said business has surged. The average number of clean up dumpsters they deliver in a month is 15-20. In a typical spring, that number jumps up to about 40-45 as people undertake typical spring cleaning. This spring has broken their delivery record with 83 containers delivered in April. 

Hass said their staff have been in good spirits and are staying healthy. Employees have access to masks and gloves that they have the choice to wear. 

Thrift Stores closed

Area thrift stores have closed, making it difficult for people to donate items that are re-usable. 

“The phone doesn’t stop,” said Andrea Knoll, manager of One More Time thrift store in Mora. Callers have been asking if they are still able to donate items. Knoll said when the store first closed on March 18 , they still tried to collect donations. With donations coming in, but no shoppers to take product out or volunteers to sort donations, the store ran out of storage space. 

Knoll is asking people to hold on to those donatable items until they reopen. “I want their stuff, but we’re all just on pause.”

Knoll said she is worried about what will happen when the store does re-open. She expects a surge in donations but volunteers may be scarce. Most of the store’s volunteers are over age 60 and therefore more vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 and Knoll doesn’t want to put them at risk. 

The money generated by the store goes to support services of Seven County Senior Federation. Without that regular income, Knoll said, “We’re completely at the mercy of our savings account.”

Citywide garage sales postponed

Area cities have postponed their annual citywide garage sales normally held in April and May. 

Mora’s Parade of Garage Sales, sponsored by the Mora Lions, would have been held Saturday May 2, was postponed until further notice.

Braham’s Chamber of Commerce had planned its annual citywide sales for April 23-25 this year, but has postponed sales to an undetermined date to comply with the “Stay at Home” executive order extended by Governor Walz. 

“To keep everyone safe, we are asking you to not hold your own garage sales until the order has been lifted,” said Becky Turnquist, spokesperson for the Chamber.

Individual garage sales not allowed

For those who would like to hold their own individual garage sales, the news is not good. 

Kanabec County Community Health Director Kathy Burski encouraged residents only go out to meet household essential needs.

According to Isanti County Public Health, their direction from state health officials is that garage sales are considered non-essential services and are therefore a violation of the governor’s Stay at Home order. 

Isanti County Sheriff Chris Caulk backed up the county’s position.  

“There is no way to properly social distance at a garage sale,” he said, “and it is unknown what germs are passed along in the exchange of the property. I understand this is something many citizens enjoy doing to move items from their homes to others and a cheap way to get needed items. However, this activity … is out of compliance with the current orders from the governor.” 

It appears the “all clear” to allow garage sales will come through the governor’s office along with the announcement to allow the opening of stores and businesses considered non-essential.  

Online selling an option

For folks looking to unload single items that could bring in some needed cash, there are sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace where sellers list their items with digital photos and coordinate with buyers to meet face-to-face. It’s free to place a listing on either one. 

Some tips for staying safe with a Craigslist/Marketplace transaction include:

When possible, arrange the meeting with a buyer during daylight hours in a public, well-lit area such as a police station parking lot. Let others know where you’re headed.

Follow social distancing requirements as much as possible when meeting a buyer and exchanging money.

When possible, use contactless payment methods like PayPal or Venmo. 

As a seller, clean and disinfect the item as well as you can. As a buyer, disinfect the item purchased before you bring it into your home. 

Never share financial information with buyers/sellers like PayPal login or bank account information. 

If online selling isn’t a good option, box up and set aside those overflow items – be patient and have faith that the time will come when they can be donated to thrift stores or bring in a few extra bucks at a summer garage sale. It’s gonna happen.


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