Sidewalks were crowded and traffic was bumper-to-bumper Saturday along Main St. in Warrensburg, while shoppers sought bargains and treasures at the 33rd edition of the World's Largest Garage Sale.
Brandy DeGrechie of Glen Lake stood behind a table set up alongside a Main Street sidewalk teeming with people Saturday Sept. 29 during the 33rd annual World's Largest Garage Sale.
She and her sisters Terri and Shari manned one of several booths where their families' excess household goods were being sold. All three were answering questions from the never-ending crowd about their array of items.
“We just want to get rid of our stuff,” Brandy said as a dozen people pored through her sale items. “This also is a great time to spend time with family and hang out together while making a little cash.”
She collected 25 cents from Linda DeCarr of Malone for a giant fake-jewel ring that was once a wedding favor, but now could be used as a napkin holder. DeCarr also scored a spray bottle of baseball-cap cleaner from DeGrechie’s “Free” box.
Despite her giveaway prices, Brandy DeGrechie made change for a buyer from a stack of bills several inches thick.
“This Sale is so much fun,” DeCarr said as she walked away towards the next vendor several yards away.
Warrensburg's World's Largest Garage Sale attracted tens of thousands of people Friday, Saturday and Sunday Sept. 28 through Sept. 30 for a staggering array of antiques, collectibles, tools, household goods, clothing, knick-knacks – virtually anything imaginable – from a vintage stretch limo to cheap tube socks.
The shoppers jammed main street to browse among the wares of 500 vendors, as well as the goods at an estimated 1,000 yard sales through town.
The persistent light rain all day Saturday didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd picking through the offerings of the mile-long stretch of vendors along Rte. 9 or elsewhere in town.
Wandering up Main St. were Jessica and Jerry Rule of Schroon Lake. Wearing a furry skunk hat, Jessica said the couple had scored a switchblade, various pocket knives, and winter gear.
She said that what they didn't buy was as interesting as what they did acquire.
“We’ve seen cool gadgets and other things here you’ve never seen before,” she said.
An array of intriguing items were for sale in a mid-town booth operated by Rick Guimmette of Winchester, Mass. At about 2:30 p.m., the narrow tent was crammed with people examining his thousands of antique hand planes, chisels, 1920s metal toys and cast-iron cookware.
He said that shoppers weren't deterred by the day-long rain – a repeat of last year's weather.
“For the weather, this is a good crowd,” he said. “They’re not just browsers, they’re dedicated buyers.”
Nearby, a portly man in red-and-white striped pants, red shirt and a foot-long white beard furiously stirred a pile of popcorn kernels in a giant wok to create a batch of “Kris Kringle’s Kettle Korn.”
As he stirred his long wooden paddle, popping corn flew every-which-way under the tent.
“Have you been good this year?” asked this Santa impersonator – Vernon Phillips of Gouverneur – as a child waited for a bag of the caramelized popcorn. “Every kernel is magically delicious.”
Frank Wiedeman of Schroon Lake, a scout leader, rode by on his bicycle with a few of his garage-sale purchases strapped to it.
Over the day, he was shuttling his finds -- tools, a pellet gun, planting pots and a side table -- back to his vehicle. He said he’s attended the Great Sale since 2008. This year, he decided to use two-wheeled transportation to get through the streets clogged with automobiles.
“Riding through town on my bike makes a lot of sense – I can cover a lot more ground quickly,” he said, noting that he’d normally get lots of camping equipment, but he already owns enough to outfit five families.
Walking briskly nearby through a tent of antiques was Ryan Volpe of Schenectady. He was holding a case containing four projection lenses for a slide projector. Earlier, he found a rare Nikon S, the famed firm’s first 35mm camera to be imported into the US during the American occupation of Japan. He said the rare model, which he bought for $25, might sell for up to $1,800 on E-Bay.
Upstreet, Marcketta Carpenter of Kinderhook browsed through 1950s collectibles along with her daughter Alisa of Yukon, Oklahoma. While Alisa was gathering old Coca-Cola collectibles,Carpenter said she was looking for antique fishing equipment and vintage kitchen tools and signs. Carpenter has attended the Warrensburg sale for 20-plus years, she said.
“There are all kinds of things here either I can’t afford or I can’t get home,” she said. Accompanying them was family friend Lisa Pritchard of Glens Falls who found antique children's Golden Books, for 50 cents each.
Josh Persons of Warrensburg walked down Elm St. lugging a wall shelf resembling half a canoe. He said he bought it nearby from a private sale.
“We’re having a good time,” he said. “Everybody’s willing to come down on their prices.”
Late afternoon Saturday, Warrensburg Fire Chief Justin Hull poured coins that firefighters collected selling breakfast and lunch – including homemade broccoli soup and chili -- to shoppers. They also parked 300 cars in the field behind their firehall, charging a bargain rate of $5 for automobiles, or $25 for recreational vehicles. Their large lot filled up by noon on Saturday. Also, as a service to the public, they were letting anyone use their bathrooms – considered preferable to the plastic Porta-Jon booths located through town for the event.
Next to Hull was Fire Company President Kevin Geraghty, who jotted down receipt totals next to a stack of greenbacks – $20 bills, $10, $5, and $1 bills – several feet high.
“We have to be here to protect the public, so we decided why not make a few dollars while we're on duty,” Geraghty said.
Two blocks away, Subway restaurant was also collecting a lot of cash for their fare. They had a line out the door at lunchtime. During last year’s garage sale, the enterprise had experienced its most profitable days ever.
This year’s receipts, however, were cut down by a deep lineup of food booths in the parking lot in front of Subway, whether the vendors were serving blooming onions, fried bread, quesadillas, or steak sandwiches.
One of those food vendors, however, Ziggy Viscusi of Rotterdam, has set up his enterprise at the World's Largest sale for many years. Saturday, he and his family members manned his long booth that served sausage-and-pepper or steak sandwiches. The savory aroma of cooking food wafted over the crowded sidewalk, drawing hundreds of customers, one after another.
“Gas prices may be up this year, but people are coming up here to Warrensburg anyway,” he said.
His neighbor, Lisa Ferlazzo, assembled a sandwich for a customer standing in line.
“I’d heard of this big sale in Warrensburg, but I had no idea what it was really like,” she said. “From now on, I’ll never miss it – This is unreal.”