Declutter and repurpose for charity with the World’s Biggest Garage Sale

4 June 2019

The World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) has diverted more than 3.3 million kilograms of goods from landfill through its events. Its next challenge is to design solutions to introduce Brisbane’s first circular shopping mall, which focuses on the reuse and repurposes of unwanted and unused goods. The goal of WBGS is to maximise the value of goods already in the economy; drawing wealth from waste is to invest back into local communities. 

What inspired you to start your business?
In 2013, I stumbled across a problem called Donor Fatigue. Donor Fatigue was something I witnessed among my friends and family. They were passionate about supporting charities, but there was just an overwhelming feeling of too much choice.

Together we decided to take a look at this challenge and understand how we could solve this donor fatigue problem. Not everybody has the cash to give. There are so many ways that you can make a difference. Volunteering is one of them, but that’s also a challenge if you’re time poor.

So I went home and had a look around my house, to try to find the answer. And there is was, staring in front of me. I had an abundance of stuff in my house that I was no longer using but holding onto. These dormant goods – underutilised and wasted. I set about to have a spring clean of my house and decided that I would host a garage sale and donate all of the proceeds from the sale to charity. Now, being the shy and understated person that I am, I kept it pretty subtle. But in the end, I decided to give it an enormous title – the World’s Biggest Garage Sale.

My friends and family started to jump on the bandwagon. It didn’t take long before they were talking to their friends and colleagues and before I knew it my double garage at home in a suburb of Brisbane was overwhelmingly jam-packed with products that had been donated by friends and family in the community.

Before too long strangers, people I’d never met, were knocking on my door, phoning me up and saying I want to donate my dormant goods to your garage sale. So what did we do? We had to move from our garage to a hall down the road and on a Friday night, I rallied friends and family in bringing the World’s Biggest Garage Sale together.

The very next day we raised $15,000 for charity!

Which type of service are you creating?

WBGS is currently scaling up and developing a digital platform to provide global communities with the support, technology and a toolkit that they can license under the WBGS brand to hold local WBGS events, leading to global impact. 

In Australia alone, there is an estimated $43.5 billion worth of unwanted goods sitting dormant in households. WBGS events encourage the community to tap into under-utilised resources, prevent waste creation, build value for the community, and promote circular consumption.

What has been the biggest challenge your business has faced to date? And how did you solve this?

Understanding how to scale our business. We overcame this by working with mentors and experts with knowledge in the StartUp ecosystem and support from people who work collaboratively with people in the Government MB and the Office of Chief Entrepreneurship.

This collaborative approach helped us navigate the best path forward for our startup to be a sustainable, profitable scale-up of the future for Brisbane.

How do you plan to scale your business locally, nationally and internationally?

The long term sustainability of our organisation comes through scalable growth of the WBGS events. WBGS will employ a licensing model to train and support a WBGS local team and events in communities across the world. This model will effectively commercialise our intellectual property – systems, processes and technology. Charities and community groups will pay a WBGS event licensing fee, thereby providing our main revenue stream. This will facilitate the activation and empowerment of 500 – 1,000 communities in 5 years across the globe, increase our impact and create a thriving organisation.

The efficiency of a digital toolkit allows for hundreds and even thousands of events to run globally, without the need to increase staff operationally at headquarters at the same rate. Think of it much like TED and TEDx events, or the parkrun platform, where communities locally ‘own’ the event, while the system supports maximised impact.

How do you plan to ‘give back’ to the Brisbane community?

Giving back is at the core of everything we do in our business! Our signature World’s Biggest Garage Sale events will also be hosted by a particular local community within Brisbane which empowers that local community and assists in raising much-needed funds, while simultaneously diverting waste from landfill. We believe in giving back as we go.

Through this grant, we will also be providing the Brisbane community with the opportunity to be Australia’s first Circular Shopping Precinct, creating jobs, new business opportunities and impact far beyond the monetary value. We will bring growth in a new economy, the circular and sharing economy, creating a ripple effect back into our community.

We are at ‘scale up’ stage, where we have the opportunity to build on our experience, learn from world leaders in this burgeoning economy, ensuring we not only put Australia even further on the map when it comes to circular shopping experiences. The Circular Economy is a $4.5-trillion dollar opportunity globally; let’s ensure Brisbane is leading the way!

Do you have any advice for businesses that are starting out?

Commit, go all in and give it all you’ve got. If you think your business can help make the world a better place, then you owe it to yourself to try. Work out your broader vision and clearly articulate it, so new team members understand where you’re going can action, and execute aligned to that vision. Hire multipotentialites initially – people who can wear many hats, because at the start roles are fluid and interchangeable and you need people who are willing to turn their hand to just about anything. Adopt agile processes and go full steam ahead!

What are the future goals for your startup?

Our most significant goal is to scale over the next few years, holding 1000 events globally within 5 years. Growth will focus on Queensland councils initially, then national councils followed by international. We plan to hold events, iterate, learn and improve to provide excellent customer experience and great outcomes for local communities and the environment.

With the unlocking of dormant goods, comes new opportunity, beyond what we know as an ‘op-shop’ today. The creation of a new market of goods, where the recycle, upcycle and high quality of second-hand goods, creates a new shopping experience for the community. There’s currently only 1 single circular shopping precinct in the world, and we seek to change that with our solutions and design, bringing Australia’s first Circular Shopping Precinct to Brisbane.

Long-term we plan to gather data and metrics around products and consumer spending habits regarding the second-hand economy, to better understand how quickly products become second-hand, what their resale value is, how long they stay in the second-hand economy or how quickly products are discarded as waste for landfill. The ultimate goal is to drive better consumption and production practices, thus fulfilling SDG12.

How does the Lord Mayor’s Global Entrepreneur Program impact your business moving forward?

This grant affords us the fantastic opportunity to travel to overseas communities who are leading the way with regards to the circular economy and learn from their established practices and systems. Ee can bring excellent relationships, learnings and insights into our model and processes that will assist us with better execution and delivery of our events and platform. It also allows will also accelerate our growth and forward momentum with regards to the circular economy in Brisbane.

It also allows us to bring back innovation and new models surrounding retail consumption to Brisbane, i.e. Circular Economy Precinct to further develop our understanding of second-hand consumption and the data and metrics around this.

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