Summer is the time to set sale: Fishing for garage sale bargains a popular peninsula pastime

Posted: Monday, June 22, 2009

While many wait for the weekend to take out the boat to do some fishing on Cook Inlet, there are numerous others who also look forward to "saling" on Saturdays and Sundays, but their hobby has nothing to do with watercrafts or waterways.

Garage saling, or as some call it garage sale hopping, is a popular pastime with penny pinchers and others who are looking to find a good deal in someone's else unwanted items.

"My friends and I are avid salers," said Florence Killen, who was perusing through a rack of clothes at a garage sale off of Ciechanski Road on Sunday morning.

Killen said she has been to dozens, if not hundreds, of garage sales over the years and she's seen the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of items and the organization of their sales.

"The sales I like best are the ones where people put time into organizing it. Everything is marked with a little price tag sicker, the items are all clean -- that' a big one, and there is some grouping of items, such as fishing gear, clothes, dishware, etc. I hate to go to a sale and see everything all mixed together in big piles on the lawn," she said.

Killen said Alaska is a great place for those who do like shopping at garage sales, because many good items can be found.

"We have such a fluctuation of people moving up for a few years and then heading back to wherever they were from, so rather than paying to move their stuff, a lot of people will try to sell it for whatever they can. With a little bit of haggling, I've gotten some practically brand new items for next to nothing," she said.

That's not to say that every sale she goes to is a boon, and sometimes Killen finds she made a long drive to find a bust.

"It's a mixed bag, though, and some sales turn out not to be worth getting out of the car for. Just people emptying out one junk drawer and calling it a sale. It would be so much better for them to get together with a few friends or neighbors who also have a handful of items, and then have a real sale," she said.

Killen said another pet peeve of hers is what she calls the wild goose chase sale.

"I hate, hate, hate when people neglect to take down their signs after a sale. It's so frustrating following signs to non-existant sales," she said.

While Killen may have had the bead from the buyer's perspective, Kathy Marquiss knows the view from the seller's side, as she was just finishing up a two-day sale on Sunday, in a neighborhood off of Tern Avenue in Kenai.

"My mother is 81 and for health reasons has to come live with us now. We're combining the two homes and don't have room for all the stuff, so we're selling furniture and other odds and ends," she said.

As to the reason Marquiss decided on a garage sale rather than running an ad in the newspaper or on the Internet to sell her family's possessions, she said the former has been the easiest way to move numerous items quickly.

"They work. Saturday was proof of it. We had a lot of stuff and we made a lot of sales," she said.

Marquiss said times may change, but people's passions for garage sales is a constant, now and in the future.

"I don't think they'll ever loose steam. Why would someone want to pay $100 for an item at a store, when they could go to a garage sale and possible find it for $5 or $10?" she said.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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