Anchorage resident Sylvia Berg had surgery last week. She specifically rested so she would be ready for Eagle River’s Annual Heritage Estates Neighborhood Garage Sale held May 5-6.
In its 24th year, this anticipated event marks the beginning of summer and the garage sale season.
“People have been waiting the whole winter,” Berg explained as she pointed to the busy neighborhood. The normally serene streets were lined with SUVs and passenger vans. Yellow signs directed shoppers through the neighborhood of over 200 houses.
Berg, a seasoned garage sale participant, shared her strategies.
“You just grab it. You don’t even look at the price.” Berg said.
She advised shoppers to put everything in a pile then negotiate for a bulk price.
Berg wore comfortable shoes and applied sunscreen. She carried small bills and bags to tote purchases. Berg recommended bringing along someone with muscles. (Her silent yet attentive companion definitely had the muscles.)
“Alaska’s got the best garage sales of anywhere,” Randy Lukasik, a participant on the selling side of the yearly event, said.
He attributed the popularity of garage sales to the transitional population and high shipping rates.
Hitting the garage sale and yard sale scene in the local area is certainly akin to belonging to a club. People recognize other regular die-hards of the potpourri landscape of one’s neighborhoods former treasures now on sale at a discount.
“Garage sale-ing is a sport,” Angela Pemberton, said. (While The Echo could not find the word “sale-ing” in the AP Style Guide or a dictionary, we like it, so we decided to use it due to the amount of mileage it gets among the fans of the garage sale scene.)
The annual event brought out her more charitable side. Pemberton gifted two plush eagles to a young brother and sister who would have paid with their allowance.
“I love it. I get to meet my neighbors,” Pemberton said. “Everyone is happy at a garage sale.”
Even on this sunny, pleasant day, there is some controversy: Does the purveyor of a garage sale allow the early birds to shop before official opening hours?
Oscar Hall, a resident of Heritage Estates, said it is acceptable to arrive early to a garage sale to get the best merchandise. Berg disagrees. She thinks “early birds” are inconsiderate.
They both concur that sellers should offer good deals.
“Price low to sell. You’re trying to get rid of it,” Hall said.
A few minutes later, he gave away an Eagle River High School scarf to a smiling alumni.
Down the street, Carol Sampson was also trying to part with some of her possessions. She used the annual event to move past certain decorating trends.
“I’m beyond the cow phase,” she said as she slashed the price on a distinctive, hand-made stuffed cow. She hoped someone would give it a good home.
At a house that displayed airplane noses and airplane seats along with the occasional animal pelt, a rowdy group had more advice on how to best run a garage sale.
“Don’t let the men run the cash box!” shouted the women.
“Don’t let the woman sell hardware!” the men retorted.
Samantha Hokanson, age 16, sold cupcakes as a snacking option to keep shoppers sweet. She set up a booth outside her home along with her sisters, Abby, age 9, and Rachel, age 7.
Samantha was raising money for college. She wants to study culinary arts and become a pastry chef.
Filling up on cupcakes was excusable as the Heritage Estates is located in a hilly neighborhood and thus pedestrian attendance of the event also meant a dose of spring exercise.
“It’s a good workout,” puffed a woman as she walked by.
With its dual mountain and ocean views, charming houses and friendly atmosphere, last weekend’s Heritage Estates garage sale delivered on its annual reputation as the “go-to” event the first Saturday in May in Eagle River.
“If you don’t spend a penny, it’s still fun walking around,” Dick Nenahlo, a resident selling items, said as he summed up the event.
Editor’s Note: Melinda Munson is a member of the ECHO News team. She and husband Paul moved to Chugiak from Arizona three years ago to escape the heat. The ECHO News appreciates her fresh eyes looking over her new community. She is the mother of six children – four of which have special needs. She completely rocks in the book of this editor.