World’s Biggest Garage Sale reclaiming goods for profit and purpose


5 min read

World’s Biggest Garage Sale Reclaiming Goods for Profit and Purpose

Yasmin Grigaliunas, CEO and co-founder of the World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) literally receives anything to sell at their sales from household goods including clothing, electrical, furniture, antiques, bedding, and sporting goods ー everything, including the kitchen sink. 

“We literally do get everything,” Yas says, “and we want to see it come out of the house and back out into the world.”

It all started in 2013 when Yas did a spring clean and decided to hold a garage sale to sell the family ‘stuff’. She did a shout out to friends and family, and before she knew it, what started as a humble spring cleaning garage sale to raise money for cancer research, exploded into an annual community event in Brisbane, which was the catalyst for WBGS. 

The World’s Biggest Garage Sale has to date donated over $314,000 to charities and diverted more than 3.3 million kilograms of potential waste from landfill and contributed over $1.7 million in social value to the economy. 

The social value is calculated from an internationally accepted monetary value system, which measures the impact of activities WBGS does, mostly from reducing waste and the resulting positive environmental impact. These include water savings, emission prevention and the reduction in use of pesticides and chemicals in the production of new goods by recycling and reusing. 

Yas says WBGS is designing solutions to commercialise the circular economy through activating dormant goods for the benefit of the community.     

“We’re diverting landfill and drawing wealth from waste, which is invested back into our local communities,” she says. “We absolutely love it when people unearth some awesome dormant goods and save them up each year for our events.”

Yas says that her CEO role really means being the Chief Everything Officer - doing whatever is required from sweeping up something that has spilt on the floor, to going to strategy meetings and everything in between. 

“I love that I’m building a triple bottom line company that has significant impact on people, the planet and building sustainable profit.

“I’m continually amazed at the impact we’re having on people in the community, and of course our planet from a sustainability perspective.”

Yas noted that some help and donations have come from unlikely places including big bulk store items. 

For example, Brisbane Airport Corporation were looking to dispose of more than 500 pieces of furniture that they didn’t need any longer. No one wanted to see it just thrown out so Yas and her team worked with them to rescue the furniture, sold it online and raised around $20,000 which was donated to the Mater Foundation, supporting Smiling for Smiddy, a charity raising funds for cancer research  — plus, 500 pieces of furniture didn’t end up in landfill. 

Yas loves that people donate their ‘good’ items. She says the donation of items to WBGS happens face-to-face - not a ‘dump and run’ at a charity bin. Donors are generally proud to hand over their better items because they know WBGS are going to do something good with them. In fact, many of the donors themselves become shoppers. 

As WBGS has grown they have learnt so much along the way, including going through the River City Labs accelerator program, which has provided mentoring, training, networking opportunities and investment in Yas and her team. 

Yas sees many opportunities and some challenges in the future. 

“One of the challenges for us is making it easier for communities to be able to participate in WBGS - we want to take all the hard work away for them,” she says. “It’s challenging communicating what we do that will mobilise people to have an impact on the planet. 

“A significant amount of the money we generate goes back into the communities to create more and more impact.”

Utilising technology will help WBGS to scale up and expand the number of events it holds. Working with Ezidebit to accept payments and enable seamless reconciliations is an important component of their growth and expansion.  

Team members from Ezidebit and other Global Payments AU/NZ business divisions worked closely with Yas and her team last year to help WBGS utilise technology in other ways. 

As part of the hackathon/day-of-service, our team members helped WBGS implement an event entry ticketing system on their website that resulted in a 39% conversion rate for tickets from the public and over 1,500 link clicks in a 24-hour period. The Ezidebit and Global Payments teams also pitched several ideas around the collection of data in the backend of these technology systems, for example, using a prepaid card system to segment what shoppers are buying and from which suburbs and demographic groups in Brisbane, and mapping what product departments are the most popular so WBGS can further segment events as smaller 'pop-up' style shopping events in the future. 

Other technology ideas were explored and may be implemented in the future, including a mobile app using Amazon’s image recognition software to make cataloging goods much quicker; a ticketing/entry system for volunteers; and shoppers being able to ‘pre-pay’ funds into an account thereby making it easy for the buyer at the WBGS using this ‘credit’. 

So, how would Yas most like the public to get involved with the World's Biggest Garage Sale?

“Well, apart from the very obvious which is for people to donate their products, we are looking for volunteers to come along to set up our events,” Yas says. 

“We offer a number of volunteering opportunities and several of our staff have started in one way or another as volunteers.” 

As for the future, World’s Biggest Garage Sale aim to be holding upwards of 700 events over the next five years. That’s a lot of goods to receive and sell and a challenge to the team as they experience rapid growth.

Yas and the WBGS are living proof that you can provide positive impact for people, planet and profit for purpose. 

The World’s Biggest Garage Sale

WBGS is an event platform enabling communities globally to hold large scale re-commerce events under license. They maximise the value of goods already in the economy, through the circular principles of recycle, repurpose, reuse, and re-commerce. In doing so, they’re diverting landfill, and drawing wealth from waste, which is invested back into our local communities.

Related Articles