Treasures aplenty at giant state garage sale

CHEHALIS - A one-day event billed as the largest garage sale in Southwest Washington didn't disappoint as more than 350 vendors catered to about 5,000 people, an organizer said Saturday.

The giant garage sale, spread throughout nine buildings at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds in Chehalis, is a twice annual event in its seventh year, said Pat Slusher, who handles marketing for the fairgrounds. The next garage sale at the fairgrounds is set for Oct. 2, he said.

Once inside the gates, visitors could find a range of items, including an old Heidelberg beer can and old, but still popular, VHS tapes.

Slusher said the event attracts sellers from throughout the region, including those who attend to capture a larger audience or those who just get tired of people walking through their yards or driveways.

“It’s a treasure hunt,” Slusher said, adding that even he couldn’t resist buying a stuffed iguana and a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus program from 1969. Other shoppers were seen leaving with tools, furniture, clothes and glassware.

Don Smith of Hoquiam, who was busy selling books, VHS tapes and glassware, said the garage sale is one of 32 stops on a garage sale season that for him starts in spring and ends in fall. It also is a welcome source of income for Smith because he lost his job last year after a Weyerhaeuser veneer plant in Aberdeen closed, leaving 104 employees without work, he said. The plant since has been sold and reopened, but Smith, 47, was not rehired.

He called Saturday’s garage sale one of the better ones, saying people in the area look forward to this event.

“They come to buy,” Smith said. He also has found success selling VHS tapes, rather than the newer DVD technology. Smith said there still is a market for videotape because it caters to senior citizens who are more comfortable with older technology.

Sometimes, older shoppers will even bring Smith a list of movie titles for him to look up, he said. Selling at a garage sale also is a chance for Smith to replenish his inventory. He said he looks to buy VHS tapes for 25 cents that he can later sell for $1.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403