Newspaper Columns from the New Britain City Journal


Tag sale survival tips

Did you ever look at photos in magazines and wonder where did d the homeowners put all of the books, china, exercise equipment---“the clutter” in the house? Everything might be hidden away in another room, or maybe the homeowners got organized and had a tag sale and now are celebrating being clutter-free.

If you live in a disorderly environment, your emotions can become unfocused and heavy.  However, if you take these important steps in three weeks you will be more organized, less cluttered, happier and a little richer. I promise you!

Three weeks before the sale:

Pick a date for your tag sale. Call your friends and family to tell them of the date and to get some needed assistance. Remember, do not have a tag sale over a three day weekend…everyone goes away.

Clean out a designated space to make room for the sale items.  Pick a room that will make it easy to bring items outside, or the day before the sale.  (I always go for the garage)

Start amassing your inventory for the sale. Stand in each room in your house and look at every possession your own.  What don’t you love? What have you kept because it was a gift, but you no longer want, need or life?  Move these items to the designated storage space and do not re-think your choice, or you will never be able to get rid of anything.

You may want to get each family member involved with this process, but if you have a “pack-rat” be careful of the “but I may need it someday” mantra.  Someday is today and you won’t need it.  Move-on to the next room while imagining your home clutter-free.

Two  weeks before the sale:

Call your newspaper for information on placing a tag sale ad most newspapers now offers both print and online editions.  Also, do an Internet search for other ad placement options.  Make your ad enticing with a list of your best items.  These items are going to bring in your customers.  Make large signs to distribute them throughout your neighborhood. (Be sure to remove them after the tag sale.)

Take photos of the large and heavy items you are selling and tack these to a bulletin board or screen.  This is an easy way to show your tag sale clients your inventory without having to move the heavy pieces outdoors.  Interested clients can then accompany a friend or family member into the house for a personal viewing.  If no one buys these items you can put them on craigslist after the sale.

If you are selling a lot of pierced earrings, attach them to a board or put them in individual plastic bags. (You can buy these at any arts and crafts store)

One week before the sale:

Continue collecting items.

Make sure your ad will be in the newspaper.

Go to an office supply store and pick up price tags or design them on your computer.  It makes a tag sale look more professional and you do not have to be asked a hundred times, “How much is this?”

With all of your items for the tag sale in one place, you will have to price them.  If you do not want to do individual prices for each item—then have tables for 1, 5, 10 dollars and even one table for .50 or 25. Cents.   People will want to negotiate for the lowest possible price.  Familiarize yourself with the market through on line auctions such as eBay.

Remember, to be flexible—you want to make money but you also want to get rid of everything.

The Week of:

A clean item is worth more than the dirty one, so clean, clean, and clean. Wash the glasses, polish the silver and dust the pocketbooks. Never skip this step. If you have an original box for anything you are selling—use it.

Group all of your like items together.  If you are like me, you have amassed quite a few of exercise videos and equipment. I use my exercise equipment everyday—they make sure my clothes are no one the floor.  Give yourself a break and sell what you don’t use, and invest in a good pair of sneakers for walking—they take up less space.

The Day Before:

Arrange table in an attractive display which will promote easy circulation for your customers.  Use tablecloths or sheets to make your tables look neat and tidy.

Park your cars off your street to allow more parking for your customers.

Your customers are the most important people of the day, so get them to browse and buy. Hire a babysitter for your young children (under 10) and hired the older ones to help you.   Have them make a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to charity.  Have one person in charge of the money, including the cash box, another person to run errands, such as brining customers to see the furniture and a third to help load the items into the customers’ car.

The Day of the sale:

Get up early the day of the sale.  There will always be “early birds.” Even if your ad says no to the early birds there will be some.

Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand in singles and change.

Have grocery bags, tape, bubble wrap and boxes to wrap the items for your customers.

If you are selling anything electric, have an extension cord to test the items.

Put out coffee for your customers.  It will allow them time to linger and may keep them from leaving empty handed.

Dress comfortably and let the joy of the tag sales begin.  At the end of the day, enjoy the comfort of a less cluttered house and the beginning of a new more relaxed life. 


What to do with built in bookshelves

Dear Les Is More:

I am sick of my built in bookcases. They never look like bookcases do in magazines or on TV.  Do you have any ideas what I can do?



Dear Lucy:

Yes.  I have plenty of ideas—thanks for writing in.  However, you don’t tell me the room it is in, or what material it is made out of –so here are my suggestions in no particular order. 

  1. 1.       Paint the inside or wall paper the inside of the bookcases and use texture rather than color to make them stand out.
  2. 2.       Separate your books by color (use the spine of the book as your color guide) and use a few shelves to showcase a different color. 
  3. 3.       Make a few of the shelves book free and use this space for decorative items.
  4. 4.       Use baskets to make the shelf organized.  I love Kaisa Grass Tray Basket (12.00) from SERRV International (  or  1-800-422-5915) this muti-purpose basket can hold magazines and looks great on a book shelf.  Using a few baskets such as Kaisa Basket Set which comes in 3 nesting sizes is great for different items and the handles on the baskets help you to move your magazines to your favorite chair. This is also a fair trade crafts non- profit organization and their products are the most beautiful I have seen in a while, and very reasonable.
  5. 5.       I love using unusual types of baskets such as the (DabneyLeeat Lucite tray which is sexy in all the right ways.  Designed by a New York artist, this tray is beautiful and is perfect for your bookcase.  Use it to house a favorite large scale book, or a favorite book and spare glasses for the bar. Anything from this company makes a great addition to any space.
  6. 6.       Paint the entire bookcase a bold color or stain it if it’s wood.

Good Luck with your design challenge and as a last resort,  you might want  to donate all of your books, take down the book case and buy a e-reader. 


Advice on finding the right purse to keep you organized

Dear Les Is More:

I read your last article and noticed you wrote about handbags being organized, but are their bags that do the trick for you


Dear Karen:

With Charlie Sheen in the news more than civil unrest in Libya, here in New Britain I have been testing handbags to come up with the best handbag that helps you get and stay organized.  I also found out my friends have handbag envy with the array of bags I have touting around.

Although I have only tested a few hundred in the past year I feel as a professional organizer I can finally narrow it to one Handbag Company and one handbag system.

The first one is the handbag system called HeddyFreddy ( and is designed to be a marriage of fashion and function. The core of the system is the HF module which is a purse organizer (or clutch) that glides into the handbag, purse or tote. It is the outside that is changed by YOU from a vast array of styles, leathers, buckles, trims and fabrics. You move the module to the handbag shell of your liking.  Best of all, this is made in Waterbury, CT at Waterbury Leatherworks and its upscale look is less expensive than a designer bag—and it all original for you-not mass marketed like everything else. This idea is not new but the quality and ease in which this moves from handbag to tote makes this the most wonderful handbag system in the world.  

The second bag is made by Ellington. (  these bags are beautiful to look at, beautiful to use and make getting and KEEPING organized a snap. I tested the “Hannah tote” and found it to be almost too roomy. A great excuse to go shopping to fill up my bag. I also tested the “Amelia In flight tote.”  What is amazing about this bag is I bought a heavier version of these 5 years ago and have used it for all of my travels since. It makes me feel more stylish then ever while using this bag. I love  the new lighter version and it slips over the handle of your rolling luggage.  I can hardly wait to fly again knowing I have the most perfect handbags around.  


keeping purses and cars clutter free

  • Dear Les is More: How do you organize the stuff in your car?

Thanks, Trey

Dear Trey:

Every night I want you to take out that day’s trash. The McDonald wrappers and the Dunkin Donuts coffee cups get tossed away—but do not stop there—when you have a moment (and it really only takes a few of these moments) decide what you want from your car—is it a home office or a mode of transportation. If it’s your home office then go to Staples and buy any one of the Peter Walsh organizers to help you (I do like the small receipt binder with the pockets, and notepad) get organized. If you spend 1 minute a day being organized in your car it will not look like a reactor accident when you need it to be nice on a date. Have an Organized Day! 

Dear LesIsMore: My hang bag is a mess. There are never enough zippers or spaces for everything I need—what can I do?

Sincerely, CeCe

Dear CeCe:

Do you clean it out nightly? What about cleaning it weekly?  That is the first step to an organized handbag. Get rid of the trash.  Stand over your trash can and purge, purge, purge. Now you are ready to put only the essentials in your handbag. 

Now for people who think their handbag is an extension of their car and need to shoulder 30 pounds of stuff in it—there are extra pockets you can buy to put in the middle of the handbag.  These are called “Purse Organizers” and there are quite a few of them.  My favorites are the “pouchee” ( and Plaid Doctrine ( –Now you can change your handbag and be organized in seconds. Each one has many many pockets and you can use the extra space to find your cell phone, keys and wallet in a second instead of hunting through your bag—you can see everything-because everything is in a separate pocket.  Genius- Have an Organized Day. Les Is More 


Pantries & computer files- reorganized

Dear Les Is More: What's the best way to organize a pantry with deep shelves to make the best use of the space but, still know what you've got in there?  Thanks Andrea

Dear Andrea:

Take the measurements of the inside of the drawers and go to a home improvement store and look around at what they have. There are many products on the market now that will help you divide and conquer that space. You can also go online to the and look at what they have. If all else fails, just store sweaters in there—that is what I do with my stove.

Have an Organized Day.

Dear Les Is More: I need serious help--SERIOUS FREAKIN' HELP-- organizing all of my files on my laptop. Thanks, John

Dear John:

This takes patience on your part—you will need to open every file on your hard drive and decide if you need to keep it. Then, the files that you need most often put on your desk top with a creative name. For every column I write, I put the date and the subject in the title. For photos, I put who is in the photo (Princess Cruise with friends or Nephews at Tom’s birthday party) –the more detail the better. It’s going to take you time, but in the end beginning organized saves you time. Good Luck.

Have an Organized Day.