SARANAC LAKE - The village was abuzz with bargain hunters from all corners of the North Country on Saturday for the first annual Village Wide Garage Sale.
Using maps that showed the location of each of the more than 80 sales, they went house to house, neighborhood to neighborhood, looking for deals.
"I think we found some treasures," said Carolyn Germano of Massena after stopping for a couple sales on Ampersand Avenue. "I found a pre-Civil War chair, a school desk and some camping gear. We're using the map, which is a good thing. We cross off the map a section at a time.
Young garage salers Lukas Miemis, 4, and Ian Barry, 7, hold up toys their parents bought for them at a garage sale Saturday morning on Kiwassa Road in Saranac Lake, part of the first-ever Village Wide Garage Sale.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"We go to a lot of garage sales, and community-wide garage sales. And this is the first one here, so you know you're going to get a lot of good stuff here. I'm having a lot of fun."
Organized by the Saranac Lake Women's Civic Chamber, the event was the brainchild of Kristeen Colby, who said the idea came up in a conversation with her husband one day.
"My husband is an avid garage saler, and we go to other community-wide garage sales," Colby said Saturday morning. "We were thinking, 'How come Saranac Lake doesn't have one?' So he said, 'Well, you're on the Women's Civic Chamber; why don't you bring it up? Because you could get something going.' I brought it up at one of the meetings, and they said, 'Sure, it's an awesome idea, but you're going to be the chair.'"
It started with just a handful of people paying $20 to register their sales and get on the Civic Chamber's map. Colby said she initially planned for 35 sales at the most.
"I thought if we got 20 that'd be awesome for the first year," she said. "Then we had to make 50 signs, and now we're up to over 84. It's just been an overwhelming response, and it's so exciting."
As Colby spoke with the Enterprise, dozens of people were browsing the many tables in Riverside Park, which served as the Civic Chamber's headquarters for the event and also was busy with the usual traffic from the Saturday farmers market. In addition to handing out garage sale maps, Civic Chamber members were selling food, baked goods, and tickets for 50-50 and gift basket raffles.
Diane Tkach was one of seven people who paid a little extra to set up sale tables in the Park. She said she was selling "odds and ends.
"A lot of this is downsizing," Tkach said. "You know when you retire and you don't downsize at the same time, you're in trouble."
Tkach said she sold a lot of camping-related items - backpacks, tent supplies - and was hoping to unload leftover construction materials from the building of her house.
A short distance away, cars were parked along the side of the street for a string of sales.
"We got a Monopoly set, some ice skates and a Craftsman toolbox," said Lance and Patrick of Canton, who didn't give their last names. "It's a good excuse to drive around Saranac Lake. We haven't been here before and its very nice."
Darlene Trout said she left Peru at 6:30 a.m. to get to Saranac Lake, in search of camping gear.
"I bought some rustic outdoor furniture, a three-burner Coleman propane stove, a camping cot, a lantern and some cushions," Trout said as she loaded a large wooden table and four chairs into her car. "I need a new car. Everybody's been so nice, and it's a lot of fun."
Beryl Szwed, who lives on Kiwassa Road, said people were driving around her neighborhood as she and her husband were setting up for their sale around 6 a.m.
"I know traffic has been slow-going through town, but that's a good thing," she said. "I'm seeing a lot of people from out of town. Somebody from Saratoga bought some old records of mine. It's just, make an offer and it's yours."
Plenty of other people who hadn't registered through the Civic Chamber were also holding yard and garage sales around the village, like Trish Wickwire, who lives on Pontiac Street.
"We were too last minute to get on the map, but we put a big sandwich board down by NBT Bank, and we've actually had a great turnout with not being on the map," she said.
The Civic Chamber raised more than $3,000 through the event. Colby said the funds will be used to sponsor other events and programs the group supports, including the Winter Carnival Coronation ceremony in February, scholarship awards and Daffest in the spring.
"All the funds raised will go right back into Saranac Lake in one form or another," she said. "We're hoping to make it an annual event, and hopefully from here on out we can join the rest of the towns in the area and do it yearly."
Tupper Lake is the only other community in the area that puts on a townwide garage sale. Last year's had about 40 sale locations.