By Matt Kane
DELANO, MN Did you notice something about the corners that flank the intersections around the Delano area last week? You can see them.
A week earlier, it seemed like every intersection in the city was marked with neon-colored signs sending travelers in different directions. Some arrowed big spenders towards a “Huge Sale” or a “Multi-Family Sale” or an “Estate Sale,” while others didn’t mess around, indicating, simply, “Sale.”
Those temporary mini-billboards assured bargain hunters from all over the state that it was, indeed, the week of the Delano Citywide Garage Sales.
A scientific scan of the official citywide garage sale list in the newspaper pumped the initial adrenaline through the veins of bargain hunters, and those signs steered them towards the prizes those sellers apparently didn’t think were so cool anymore.
I, too, get caught up in the tractor beam those sales seem to have, and I criss-crossed the Delano region like hundreds of others looking for the best deal.
I knew I was going to spend good portions of my lunch hours searching through other people’s junk, so I decided to turn my garage saling into a mission. The mission was to visit every sale listed in the Delano Herald Journal.
The list consisted of 36 listings, although halfway through, I finally noticed two of the sales were at the same residence. So, I guess, there were 35 sales. But anybody who was pounding the pavement knows there were a lot more than 35 sales out there.
While many of the sales began Wednesday, I resisted my itch to start early, and decided I would spend Thursday on the bargain hunt. I dropped my son off at day-care just after 8 a.m., and headed to my first sale with the newspaper list and a street map of Delano in hand. For once, I actually planned my route, assigning numbers to the listings and marking those numbers in the appropriate areas of the city on the map.
My trek began with the longest drive, out to Franklin Township Rd., where I came across a mother and her teenage daughter putting the final touches on their sale items.
There wasn’t anything I needed at the first sale, so I ventured back north to the Woods Creek development, and, BAM! There were sales everywhere. I checked out four sales, and then I decided I needed more energy, so I met a buddy for some fueling of my body at Edie Mae’s. Nothing prepares one for a long garage-saling journey liked a plate of world famous stuffed hashbrowns.
At 10 a.m., I was back on my mission. I finished Woods Creek and continued north, with my goal to cross off all the sales east of the Crow River before lunchtime.
Turns out, my lunchtime was at 2 p.m. that day, and I still hadn’t gotten to all the sales on the east side. After a bite at McDonald’s (take-out, of course) I finished the downtown sales, and headed west of the river. I traveled 3.5 miles south on Wright County Road 17, and came back north to finish off the sales. I ventured through Parkview Hills, West Ridge Hills, Woodland Meadows, and Clover Springs before my day of street shopping was over for Thursday.
The final tally for Thursday of the Delano Citywide Garage Sales was 19 sales crossed off the newspaper list and 31 additional sales visited, for a day-one total of 50.
On Friday, I visited seven more before noon, to bring my total to 57 sales in less than two days.
I am proud to say my wallet does not have a hole burnt into it. I spent less than $50, and $20 of that was on one item, a toy cabinet for my son, Nolan.
Here’s the invoice of my spending:
$20: toy cabinet
$10: Hamm’s beer clock
$3: ball hitch assembly
$3: box of old country western eight-track tapes
$2: comical figurine (not appropriate for all buyers)
$1: costume chicken hat
$1: children’s life jacket
$1: old Pepsi bottle crate
50 cents: two books
50 cents: toy wagon
Sure, there were a few other items I contemplated, but willpower (and my wife’s voice in the back of my head) pulled me away from foolish purchases.
I didn’t spend a lot of money on items at the sales, but I probably made up for my lack of spending with the mileage I drove on my journey. On Thursday, alone, I put 47 miles on my car. I estimate I added 15 more Friday morning, so that would put me at 62 miles.
During my journey, I tried to make mental notes of the strangest items I found for sale. I’m proud to admit that I own two of those crazy items the chicken hat and that figurine I cannot describe (It’s PG-13).
One of the other crazy items was a rack of longhorn antlers. You know, the ones that look great on the front of a Cadillac convertible. I was picturing those horns on the front of my 1995 Ford Taurus, but just couldn’t fork over the $50. It would have been perfect for my green machine; after all, Taurus is the zodiac constellation of the bull. All bulls should have horns.
Connie Okragleski had some unique items at her sale on Vixen Lane. Many of the pieces were from western Europe, but I have no idea where the collection of airplane liquor bottles came from. The labels looked vintage and were in good shape. Well preserved, I’m sure, but the liquids still inside.
John Brown of Morristown was spotted checking the labels on those wee whiskey bottles.
“We have friends over here in Delano, so we make sure we don’t miss (the citywide),” he said of he and his wife.
At a sale on Country Lane, Joyce Anderle of Buffalo and her granddaughter Elizabeth Anderson were found looking at small knickknacks during the late afternoon. It was the fifth sale of the day for the two, who started their day with a hearty breakfast.
“We are all looking for bargains,” said Anderle, who used to reside in Delano.
“Good deals,” Anderson chimed in.
“You know what they say, ‘Someone’s junk is someone else’s treasure.’”
The youth house that neighbors St. Peter’s Catholic School on Second Street had plenty of junk I mean treasures. Charie Johnson knows the house and decided to stop after work. She found just what she was looking for.
“I needed some lawn furniture and I found them here,” she said as youth house resident Kincaid Edwards loaded the pieces into her SUV. “I wanted to help the kids out.”
Also at the youth house, 11-year-old Isaiah McManus couldn’t pass up a clean pair of basketball shoes for 50 cents. And his buddy, Jaden Velasco, 8, just had to have the butterfly net, even if he had no idea what to use it for.
Cindy Rammage and her teenage daughter, Cassie were also spotted at the youth house sale. They were at the end of their day, heading for ice cream after finding the scrapbooking items earlier in the day. Both were impressed with the citywide sales.
“It was even better than last year’s,” Cindy said. “We like it because we get to see a lot of people we don’t see very often.”
Several things I noticed during the citywide garage sales were that Delano could clothe a Third-World country with all the clothing that was for sale during the four days of the citywide event. And the city could stock the Library of Congress with novels.
Surprisingly, I didn’t notice as many pieces of heavy, oversized coat hangers and file cabinets, also known as exercise equipment, for sale. Everybody must be getting in shape again, or they realized nobody is looking for 1997 models of the NordicTrack.
This was the first year I ever really buckled down and heavily participated in the citywide sales, but I think I am hooked. I commend all the sellers for the commitment they put into getting their sales organized, and I commend all the shoppers who, for the most part, are patient in dealing with the crowds of people and traffic in the sometimes tight neighborhoods.
Of course, the sellers loved the traffic.
“It’s been excellent. Nothing but great,” said Renata Russek, who began preparing for her sale when the snow was still on the ground.
“It was a great sale. And the weather is perfect,” said Renata’s husband, Jack Russek.
On Wednesday, the Russek sale filled the driveway at their Bridge Avenue home. By Friday, all but a squirrel feeder and a garden windmill was contained inside the garage.
Okragleski’s sale also spilled outside the garage onto the driveway. The money was flowing when I visited the Vixen Lane sale, and that kept a smile on the faces of Okragleski and her crew of sales clerks.
“They treat me fine,” said Okragleski, who welcomed people to her sale.
Okragleski is a veteran vender who was selling just about everything at this year’s citywide sale.
“I’ve lived here 12 years and have done 10 sales,” she said. “Now, the house is up for sale, so, if anybody wants a house, I have one.”
That house comes with a garage, meaning I could have actually purchased a garage at a garage sale. Has anybody ever done that before?
I also want to give a shout out to the Delano Public Works employees, thanking them for their patience while trying to patch car-sized holes in the Maplewood Estates as shoppers edged by in their SUVs.
I actually heard a lady at one sale complain about those city workers getting in the way. She questioned why the workers couldn’t just push their jobs aside until the next week when the garage sales were over. I did all I could to not tell here where to go. (Although, brawling with a blue-hair at a garage sale would have added some drama to this column.)