The Group: Kate Sessions Elementary PTO, San Diego.

The Setting: The school parking lot on a Saturday and Sunday, with miles of folding tables and boxes of books set up like an open-air library.

The Idea: A used book sale stocked by donations from families, plus a crafts fair with table space rented by local merchants. “I just loved this idea,” says fundraising vice president Cori Meara. “You got to clean out your bookshelves while making money for the school.”

What Went Wrong: Too much supply, not enough demand. “Volunteers spent endless hours categorizing over 5,000 books,” Meara recalls. “We did sell a lot of books, but not nearly what we had.”

What Happened Next: “We made about $500 in the two eight-hours days,...counting the $25 fee to sell crafts.” In the end, more than 3,000 books were left on the shelf.

The Outcome: “We quickly put the 30-plus cartons of books on Craigslist and sold them for a small donation,” Meara says.

Literary Lesson: “You live and learn—and we now know used book sales don’t work for our school!”

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