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Published June 12, 2009, 07:00 AM

Park Point rummage sales draw bargain-hunting tourists

The draw of the annual Park Point community’s garage sale — which stretches about four miles on Minnesota Avenue from the Aerial Lift Bridge to 42nd Street — has gone far beyond the Twin Ports.

By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune

Carole Kouba can’t resist a good garage sale.

That’s why Kouba and her husband drove 400 miles Thursday to attend the Park Point Garage Sale today and Saturday.

“I do love my rummage sales,” said Kouba, 62, of Manitowoc, Wis., who goes to garage sales every weekend from spring to fall. “Ninety-nine percent of what I have in my house, except the beds, is rummage.”

The draw of the annual Park Point community’s garage sale — which stretches about four miles on Minnesota Avenue from the Aerial Lift Bridge to 42nd Street — has gone far beyond the Twin Ports.

In recent years, volunteer coordinator Charlene Shimmin is getting more e-mails from out-of-towners, looking for information about where the sale is, its hours and directions.

“We have people coming from as far as Colorado who got word of the sale,” Shimmin said. “Some take time off from work to come for the sale.”

It all started in the 1970s, when Park Point residents took advantage of the passing traffic for the Park Point Art Sale and started putting their used items out for sale. When residents decided 28 years ago to hold a communitywide garage sale on a separate weekend, it became an official annual event sponsored by the Park Point Community Club.

“We decided to do it before Grandma’s Marathon,” explained Shimmin, who’s been involved since the early years. “Now people just know it’s the weekend before Grandma’s.”

About 100 homes along Minnesota Avenue participate. Although they try, people from other areas can’t just come down to Park Point and set up their wares on public property.

“It’s a problem every year,” Shimmin said. “People try to set up in a public area. It’s not allowed in the city. You need permits in city parks.”

But how do Park Point residents keep coming up with all that excess stuff year after year?

“You invite your family and friends to come down and bring their stuff,” Shimmin explained. Some residents even let nonprofit groups use their yards for a fundraising sale.

This year’s sale will have the usual array of household items, clothes, furniture, toys, tools, yard gear and salvaged items. Food vendors and portable toilets will be set up along the route.

“It turns into one big block party,” Shimmin said. “People come down and have a fun time.”

Kouba, who is visiting Duluth for the first time, plans to shop for two days.

“I’m looking to spend a lot of money,” she said, adding that she’s looking for “anything that fits my fancy.”

But most of all, she’s looking for treasures. And she’s found many in her 25 years of rummaging. Among them are a pair of diamond earrings she bought for 25 cents, a full length sable mink coat and a 1986 Corvette with less than 30,000 miles on it. Of course, she bargains.

“A sale isn’t a sale unless you bargain a little bit,” she says.

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