Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Scavenging Garage Sales With Foursquare

A garage sale scavenger hunt is a great way to motivate consumers to visit multiple sales.

Using social media as a way to host scavenger hunts is gaining popularity, especially with the use of Foursquare. Best when coupled with your clients’ other social media channels, like Twitter and Facebook, a scavenger hunt is a fun and innovative way to prepare for garage sale season and get consumers to visit multiple sales.

Although a garage sale scavenger hunt is a great way to motivate consumers to visit multiple sales, you must offer incentives that encourage them to participate. Coupons, deals at local businesses or even a discount book are a couple of ideas. Also consider working with editorial to offer a story on the contest and the winning team.

There are several options to consider when designing your scavenger hunt. Will checking in be the only requirement? You could also require users to submit a photo with their check-in. Examples include taking a photo of the garage sale sign or one of the sale in general. Requiring a specific photo is an option as well — like each location requires a different picture: the first stop requires participants to take a picture of a book; the second requires a photo of furniture; the third requires a photo of plants, etc. This is a good way to get participants more involved in the scavenger hunt, and it is also a good way to collect fun photos you can use to promote future events.

The last few things to consider are the official end time and the final location for the participants. You can use this opportunity to host a fun event, by offering some refreshments, entertainment and gather potential customers together.

When designing the scavenger hunt, there are a couple of different methods to use. You can create a List, which offers a few different ways of hosting the scavenger hunt, or you can also use an App that Foursquare offers through their API platform (Sqavenger).


One way to host a scavenger hunt day is to create a list. This method is a little more straightforward. It is a basic option that allows users to group together a list of locations. By having all the locations available to your participants, it takes away the clue aspect of scavenger hunts. But it also allows the consumers to schedule their involvement more adequately. You can still use the other requirements mentioned above (like a photo-hunt) to spice this method up.

To create a List, while logged in on Foursquare, click the “Lists” tab near the right side of the top menu (next to your profile dropdown menu) or visit In the top-right corner, there is a green “Create a New List” button, which opens a dialogue box that prompts you to insert a name for the List. Name the List something relevant to the garage sale scavenger hunt and then select “create.” This brings you to a new page where you can search for your locations, add tips and upload photos. You can re-order your List by dragging the locations up or down within the menu. You can edit this List whenever you want.

After you finish the List, you can publish the link to your friends and followers, and then the hunt is on.


This app has a simple interface that allows any user to create a scavenger hunt. Sqavenger is an app that is directly built off of Foursquare, and participants can join the hunt and receive clues via text message. By checking into the correct location, participants will receive the next clue (again, via text message). You can create your scavenger hunt right away at Select the “Create a Sqavenge” button, which brings up the options you can fill in.

Basically, it connects text messaging and users’ Foursquare accounts to create the scavenger hunt. By using this method, users do have to guess to find the correct locations. This means that your clients’ locations have to have a well-established Foursquare presence. This can be done fairly easily: by creating the account, adding photos of the location, tips and having people check into the location. The clues to the locations have to be pretty obvious as well, but you can still make additions to spice up the hunt. The combination of scavenger hunt and photo-hunt really brings the event together.