Lugging a cart full of cookbooks, purses and a grass seeder she bought to replace one inadvertently sold at a garage sale, Betty Van Riper was relishing another bargain-hunting extravaganza.
Van Riper, sporting a shirt that read "I Survived the Terry-Taylor Garage Sale," arrived in the Longview neighborhood Saturday morning just before 7 a.m. with her husband, Bud, and grandson Kristian Beam. Eight hours later, the group was hauling a third load of goods to the car to take back home to Kelso.
"A lot of the time, you don't know what you're looking for until you get here," Bud Van Riper said.
Thousands of bargain hunters flocked to the Terry-Taylor-Northlake neighborhood for the area's annual garage sale. Shoppers started scoping out merchandise Friday night, and early birds began arriving in the neighborhood at the crack of dawn Saturday.
Now in its 28th year, the Terry-Taylor garage sale has grown from a small event to a full-scale flea market, complete with food vendors, portable toilets and paid parking. However, the crowds and vendors seemed to be down from last year because of the slow economy, said Ruth Bitner, a Northlake Place resident who helped organize the event.
Vendors paid $3 per space and were making plenty off that investment.
Taylor-Terry resident Diane Craft, who's held a sale with other family members for the last 24 years, said her group expected to pull in about $2,000 Saturday. With money tight this year, used clothing was selling well, and a lot of men came looking for deals on tools and fishing gear, Craft said.
More importantly, the neighborhood-wide sale is a chance for neighbors to meet, she said.
"It builds a camaraderie. And also, it's something for members of our community (to do) to stay in our community," Craft said.
It's the second year Scott Reynolds, a Weyerhaeuser Co. paper mill worker, has opened his house for the sale. Electronic goods, such as stereos and DVDs, were selling well, he said. Three other families joined with Reynolds for the sale, and they made about $1,800 by the afternoon, he said.
The sale also means more room for more projects, Reynolds said.
"An empty garage. That's what it means to me. I'm going to finally build more shelves," he said.
The garage sale, billed as one of the largest in Southwest Washington, attracts people from as far as the Puget Sound and Portland areas.
Longview truck driver John Smith said he worked all night, came home to cook breakfast, then headed to the garage sale early Saturday morning. He and his friend Chad Bullock came away with a bunch of collectibles, from Hot Wheels cars to Beanie Babies, and they found a lot of good deals.
"It's that thing where one man's trash is another man's treasure," Bullock said.
Smith said he likes the sales, but he likes the social aspect too.
"It's a pretty awesome way to get to know your neighbors," Smith said.