Retail and Technology

Couple’s app simplifies garage sale payouts

Tally Sheet helps multiple sellers track purchases for garage, yard and estate sales.

April 28, 2017
| By Pat Evans |
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Tally Sheet
Brian and Holly Anderson developed an app that could reduce the sales-tracking stress associated with multi-person garage and estate sales. Courtesy Tally Sheet

For years, Holly Anderson spent a weekend with girlfriends hosting a garage sale.

Whenever a piece would sell, the friends would notate the sale with a sticker on a poster board and at the end of the weekend, they’d convene and calculate, several times, to ensure the tally sheet was right and the sale’s revenue was distributed correctly to each participant.

The simplistic record keeping system seemed odd to Anderson, as she wondered why there wasn’t a better way to keep track of transactions at garage sales.

“The standard checkout system is really antiquated,” she said. “At the end of the sale, we’d be spending literally hours adding them up for each seller. Every year, we’d all say how antiquated it was and here’s all this technology and here we are peeling off masking tape and sticking it on poster board.”

She set out to disrupt the garage sale industry. Anderson’s husband, Brian, is a software developer by trade, consulting businesses and entrepreneurs with product development for 20 years. He saw the opportunity to do the same for his wife as he observed the yard sales. In fall 2016, the cloud-based mobile app Tally Sheet was released.

With an average of 165,000 yard sales and $4.2 million in revenue each week in the United States, the Andersons discovered there’s an underserved market, most of which use the record keeping systems handed down through generations.

“I believe in productivity and making lives easier,” Brian Anderson said. “In this case, I can serve my wife and translate to others around the world. The status quo was the challenge.”

With Tally Sheet, users can connect within a sale and the app keeps track of all the purchases at the sale, keeping the sellers updated in real time. The app checks out customers and keeps track of sales, resulting in a report for the multiple sellers at the end of the day, including payout totals.

With the launch at the end of September 2016, the Andersons missed the peak garage sale season in the U.S., so with the rate set to pick back up, they’re ready to see their app potentially take off.

Despite missing the peak season, the Andersons found users throughout the winter with people running estate sales, craft sales and in-home parties.

“The market is broader than we expected,” Holly Anderson said.

The app started in mobile app stores with a download fee, but eventually, the fee was dropped and several websites picked up the app and promoted it, resulting in more than 13,000 installs. The app remains free as the couple continues to build a user base.

Brian Anderson said they are experimenting with in-app purchases and will add credit card processing.

“The signs are really good that this is something that people need,” Holly Anderson said. “We’ve done some social media promotion, but the online sites spiked our user base. At this point, it’s just a lot of grass roots.”

The couple will continue to find ways to attempt to make money off the app, as it builds through their first real garage sale season. While they’re enjoying their ride building the app, they said they would listen if a mobile payment company, like PayPal or Square, came calling.

“We have to make money, otherwise we can’t do this forever,” Brian Anderson said. “All options are open at this stage. It’d be a dream to exit in that way, but we’re just focused on building a great app.”

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