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Yard sale keeps family going
Makeshift market helps Smiths make ends meet in tough times
A sign for a seven-day-a-week garage sale sits Saturday at the edge of Frank Smith's property on Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

A small, makeshift market can be found outside the home of Frank and Holly Smith, where clothing and trinkets line the folding tables near the Dawsonville Highway house.

In the buildings beside the home, people can find television sets, glassware, lounge furniture and some good deals, Frank Smith said.

"My wife has been selling recliners for $10."

For about three months, the couple has held a yard sale from the property seven days a week. While the sale is a way for the family to clear out extra items, it is also how they're making
ends meet, Smith said.

"Right now, moneywise, it's not that good, but it's helping to pay the bills," he said.

Smith, 46, said he and his wife turned to the yard sale idea as the economy worsened and jobs began to dry up. Two years ago, the Buford company Smith worked for closed, and he said it has been a struggle to find work. He previously worked in landscaping.

"Some people said they just laid a bunch of people off and they're not looking to hire," he said.

The lack of income became a major struggle for his family, he said. The Smiths, including three children still living at home, moved into a trailer in Clermont. With no money for utility bills, Smith said they lived without water and electricity.

"It was a messed up time for us," Smith said. "I knew I couldn't have my kids living like that."

After finding a few odd jobs, the Smiths rented their current home in Gainesville, and Smith said he came up with an idea to supplement their income. The family placed a sign on their property offering to pick up unwanted items.

"The next day we had a lot of phone calls," Smith said.\

Several of the calls were from people who wanted to get rid of unsold items from their own yard sales as summer drew to a close, he said. He also accepted items such as lumber or toilets, which he said he offers for free.

"I won't charge them, but I ask that they hire me for the labor," he said.

Smith named his new business "The Handyman Donation Barn" and he plans to seek a permit for the venture this January. He said the yard sale will continue until the items are sold off.

"We became overstocked," he said of the number of donations.

The items sold most at the yard sale are clothing and furniture. Smith said the clothing is sold for about 50 cents apiece, and some of the furniture is less than $20. He said their busiest days are usually Friday to Sunday.

"In Hall County there are a lot of people who yard sale. We have 10 or 20 regular people that come over here," he said.

Smith also makes a point to give away yard sale items for free to people who are also hurting from the economy.

"I don't want anyone to fall into the same situation we did a few years ago," Smith said.

Smith said that while the yard sale is only temporary, he hopes that he and his wife one day can open a thrift store. He is also hopeful "The Handyman Donation Barn" will continue to grow.

"I said to my wife, ‘maybe this could be a blessing for us,'" he said.

The yard sale is located at 1876 Dawsonville Highway. Smith said he expects it will continue daily until mid-December.