Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 13, 2004

Popular LP garage sale day hits its 25th anniversary

By Jenni Sebora

Talk about shopping at Nordstrom’s or Marshall Fields might be commonplace in downtown Minneapolist, but in the local area, people may actually hear talk of Lester Prairie’s city wide garage sale days.

“The word is out there about garage sale days. A friend of mine heard someone in Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis talking about the Lester Prairie garage sale days,” said Charlotte Ehrke, one of the originators of the event.

The third Saturday of September, Sept. 18, marks the 25th anniversary of the annual garage sale days.

Leslie Baumann, Wally Dibb, Marceil and Lew Buss, and Ehrke were the pioneers who began this community event 24 years ago, and it has truly been history since.

“We all went to various block sales, apartment complex sales, and different group sales,” Baumann said.

“My family and I were visiting friends in a small town, Oronoco, near Rochester, which holds an annual flea market and thought it would be nice to have a garage sale days in Lester Prairie as a way for our businesses to show appreciation to our community members for their patronage,” Baumann said.

Advertising for the garage sales is paid for by the various businesses in the community with the help of the newspaper, Baumann said.

The garage sale days’ committee, presently consisting of Judy Angvall, Baumann, and Ehrke, have tried different fundraising activities over the course of the years to help defray the costs of advertising, such as selling mugs and raffle tickets.

“One year we hid a medallion at one of the garage sales, but someone bought the item the medallion was in and never turned it in for the cash prize,” Baumann said.

Another time, a dinner was served at the city park after the sales were over for the day to help promote the garage sale days as a community event. It was open to the public and implemented for the people having garage sales to be able to have a low cost, no hassle dinner available, Baumann said.

“The caterers who initially prepared the meal could no longer participate, and this event was discontinued,” Baumann said.

Garage sale days is also an opportunity for local organizations, churches, and businesses to capitalize and serve food, Ehrke said.

It is truly a community event and that’s what the organizers of the garage sale days want people to know, Ehrke said.

“It is like a big reunion for many people living in the Lester Prairie community,” Ehrke said.

“There was a long-time resident of Lester Prairie who said she liked garage sale days better than Christmas because her family came home every year for the event, and they had a big potluck dinner after garage saling,” Ehrke said.

There consistently have been more than 100 garage sales, with many of the sales being five family sales taking in $500 and more, Ehrke said.

The annual event’s claim for fame is having a one-day sale versus a multiple-day sale. The committee stresses the importance of keeping it this way and encourages households having garage sales during the garage sale days to solely have their sales Saturday, Ehrke and Baumann said.

“It’s like having a gourmet meal. You wouldn’t serve some of the meal one day and the rest of the meal the next day. It is served all in one day. People will get their items sold on Saturday,” Baumann said.

People come from all over to garage sale. Every year Ehrke gets calls from various people verifying the date of the event and wanting information on hotels and motels to stay at, Ehrke said.

People are impressed with the clean, quality items available at the various garage sales and comment on the neatness of people’s homes and yards, Ehrke said.

Another positive aspect of Lester Prairie garage sale days is that the town is small enough so people can walk through the neighborhoods to garage sale, Ehrke said.

“I like garage sale days because there is something for everyone, from a small child to a grandparent,” Ehrke said.


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