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Posted: 06/18/14

STEADY SHOPPERS. Above, from left, Chris Miller of Lapeer and Lynda Lynd of Oakland check out the bargains available at a sale on Benjamin Street in Romeo. This was their first time at the Tri-Community Garage Sale. At left, Above, shoppers check out collectibles and other items for sale at a garage in Bruce Township. Sellers could register their location with Parks and Recreation to make it easier for shoppers to find their homes.

(Observer photos by Chris Gray)

Shoppers stream into
Romeo area for garage sales

Observer Staff Writer
      Traffic started slow but steadily grew as a weekend full of perfect weather shined on the annual Tri-Community Garage Sale.
       Everything from bikes and collectibles to antiques, furniture, toys and gumball machines could be found at more than 70 garages sales held June 12-15.Clara Russell, Parks and Recreation director, said she saw vehicles up and down the streets of Romeo, Washington and Bruce throughout the weekend.
       "Thursday was a little rough, but truly I think if you had a garage sale or were a garage saler, you had a multitude of choices," she said.
       A rainy start to the four-day event didn't deter bargain hunters. Sellers like Michele McMillan of Romeo said she couldn't believe the amount of traffic, with buyers from as far as Marine City or Caseville buying big-ticket items like furniture.
       "They're die-hards," she said with a laugh. "People would sit in their cars until the rain would break . . . I would come out and take the tarps off and lo and behold, they would still buy, it was unbelievable."
       Elke Defelice of Macomb was selling dishes, dolls and more at a friend's home in Romeo. She said the rain made her pack up early, but otherwise she saw a steady stream of traffic during the sale.
       "It's been pretty good," she said. "I made more in a day-and-a-half than I thought I was going to make in three."
       Shoppers were aided by a map from Parks and Recreation that showed more than 60 addresses where sales were taking place throughout the weekend. Mary Dorris of Romeo was one of the residents who signed up to be on a map, saying she made $200 as of Friday afternoon.
       "It's been pretty good," Dorris said. "It's really nice to get all of this clutter out of the house."
       Brenda Ballew of Washington Township signed up for the map for her second year of selling. She said she didnĂ•t believe the event was as active as last year.
       "In comparison to traffic, it's been really slow this year," she said. "I don't think I had my first person until after 10:30 a.m."
       Returning shoppers like Jim and Debbie Byks of Dryden made use of the map to hit hard-to-find homes in Bruce Township, though they lamented that the map wasn't very detailed.
       "It's somewhat helpful," Jim said. "The addresses are helpful, it's just all the names of the streets aren't on the map."
       Even without the guide, though, they said they have come to the garage sales for close to seven years and always find something.
       "Since we shop every year, there aren't too many things we need, but sometimes I see something that is just right," Debbie said.
       Debbie added that anyone who couldn't sell books during the sales could donate them to the Romeo American Association of University Women (AAUW) for its annual book sale in September.
       The sales event, which has been held for 14 years, has become a tradition for many. K. Burton of Romeo was out shopping in her eighth year at the garage sales, saying she liked the Tri-Community Garage Sale because there are good items and people.
       "They're reasonable, and they're willing to come down on the prices, and they have nice things for sale," she said.
       Adam and Martina Schapman of Imlay City were visiting family in the area and decided to head out to the sales for their second year, buying some toys for their daughter, Clara.
       "It's turning into a ritual now," Adam said. "We like to come out and score some good deals."
       Still, the event was a first for others like Lynda Lynd of Oakland and Chris Miller of Lapeer. The duo said they were driving through town when they noticed all the garage sale signs.
       "We would come back next year," Lynd said. "They've got a lot of nice things."
       Laura Marchwinski of Washington Township said she heard the weekend generated a lot of traffic, so she decided to set up shop to clear out her basement.
       "We've had some rushes and some lulls, but all-in-all it was pretty good," she said. "We sold some big-ticket stuff; the knick-knacks not so much."

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