What is a Jumble Sale?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2019
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A jumble sale is a sale of items donated by members of a community, usually for a charitable cause like raising funds for a church or community organization. The pricing on the secondhand goods at the jumble sale is typically kept low to encourage people to buy, with the goal of clearing out all the items by the end of the sale. Public volunteers may preside over the sale, or representatives of the organization can handle the cash registers, crowd control, and other matters.

At a jumble sale, the mixture of goods can be quite diverse. In addition to receiving donations from individuals, the charity may also have items from companies and retail stores, such as excess unsold inventory and other product donations. Typically the sale has items at between three and five set prices. People responsible for pricing items place them in the best category rather than pricing them individually, and they may separate items at the jumble sale by price to make it easier for people to browse them.


Some jumble sales charge a small entry fee and use this as part of the fund-raising effort. Paying the fee provides people with access to secondhand goods at prices lower than those they would find at a store or individual sale. The sale may have different pricing on different days, and in the final hours it could allow people to buy things by the bag or by weight, providing an incentive for people to buy everything, leaving the sale organizers with no excess goods to get rid of.

Jumble sales often accompany scheduled public events like fairs and festivals, when a crowd will be circulating and more potential buyers will be available. In some communities, there may be an annual jumble sale that everyone knows to expect on a particular holiday weekend or in conjunction with a specific community event. In addition to the jumble sale, the charity may also have sales throughout the years for crafts and other goods.

In addition to members of the public, pickers for secondhand stores may also frequent jumble sales. They look for low cost items they can mark up to sell at antique stores, bookshops, and similar retail establishments. They may also be on the lookout for finds like rare and unusual items that were not identified by the sale organizers, in the hopes of making an extra profit on these items.


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