The energy was electric Saturday morning as hundreds crowded at the starting line of the Coupeville Lions Garage Sale, peering over the rope to eye the smorgasbord of bargains awaiting purchase.
By 8:30 a.m., half an hour before a Lion would blow the bullhorn signaling “go,” the main parking lot was packed, with overflow parking quickly filling up. Shoppers, many dressed in running shoes as if prepared for a marathon, flexed their legs and chatted about the treasures they expected to obtain.
One volunteer likened the event’s usual stampede of shoppers to that at the doors of a Macy’s Black Friday sale.
Just moments before 9 a.m., volunteers cut the rope. At the sound of the bullhorn, shoppers sprinted toward their choice items, many making a beeline for bigger pieces like indoor and outdoor furniture, a crab boat and riding lawnmowers.
Within seconds, dozens of hands shot up into the air as shoppers staked their claim and signaled for a Lion to complete the sale. A handful of children helped their family members by sitting on furniture pieces like dressers and desks to mark it theirs.
“I would say between 90 and 95 percent of it was gone in the first hour,” Lion Joseph Walck said with a chuckle.
Walck has been volunteering at the garage sale for 11 years.
“Some people have come for 10 to 20 years and love to tell stories,” Walck said. “I enjoy listening to them.”
He and fellow Lions won’t know how much money was raised until next week’s picnic, though he expects sales were satisfactorily high.
Money raised at the garage sale go towards the Lions Club foundation, which funds various programs including blood drives, sight and hearing screenings at the elementary school, historic preservation projects, medical equipment loans and purchasing eyeglasses and hearing aides for those in need.
“It all seems to disappear at the end of the year, and it all goes back into the community,” said Walck.
As they have in years past, the Lions took approximately a week and a half to move items to the school and set up. But, Walck said, it took a year of collecting donations to accumulate their sizable stock, which included everything from a Honda Accord to toys, holiday decorations, household goods and antique nautical equipment.
Walck estimated that only about two percent of the items were left at the end of the day Sunday. Most items were half-price Sunday.
“It’s really a wonderful sale,” said Walck.
Remaining items were donated.