Garage sale fever

For those stricken, Saturday morning can't come early enough

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The chill in the air at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 11 didn't stop the groups of people knocking on Kate Erbe's door.

It was a typical summer garage sale day but her garage had not yet opened.

"They'll knock on your door. I sold at least one-third of what I had between 7:30 and 8 a.m.," Erbe said with a smirk and a laugh. "This is my first one ever."

Erbe's official garage sale hours were 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. By 11 a.m. that Saturday, the few small boxes and toys sprawled out in her driveway on Moonlight Way in Steamboat II were rummaged through by only a few people.

Some people didn't pay attention to the pingpong table that was intended to separate the for sale items from the for keep items.

People strolled in and out of her garage, looking through cabinets and unplugging radios they thought were for sale.

Buyer Dana Smith, a resident of Steamboat for 23 years, said garage sales typically start in May, hit their peak during June and July and begin to fade by August.

But from the looks of the newspaper ads and the hot pink garage sale signs placed sporadically around town, there is no sense of dwindling garage sales.

"Sometimes they'll pull up with two or three families. There's people that do it every summer," Smith said of the hordes of garage sale goers. "And the Steamboat II garage sale is huge."

Smith said the transient college students to and from Steamboat stir up the garage sales numbers in the spring

and fall.

"They're either having their own or going through them when school ends and begins again," Smith said.

With the intentions of selling their things to move to Phoenix, Ariz., Erbe and her family raided their own closets and parted with things they never thought they would.

"I had a set of margarita glasses, a beautiful set. And I was sticking to my price," said Erbe, a four-year Steamboat resident. "By the time the third person came around, she was willing to pay what I asked for. I'll keep them before I let someone take them for nothing."

Erbe said parting with her bedroom furniture from when she was 14 years old was difficult, but when a single mom came to her garage sale looking for furniture for her little girl, she almost was willing to give it away for nothing.

"If you can haul it away I just felt for her really and because I wanted to get rid of it," Erbe said.

According to the authors of "How to Have a Big Money Garage Sale," 60 million people go to garage sales every year. The book highlights how to get started, what is garbage and what are goodies.

Steamboat saw at least 52 garage sales in June, 51 in July and 31 by Aug. 17.

Erbe said her most popular items were tools, furniture, clothing items and books, and prices ranged from 50 cents to about $25.

"My jeans went like hot cakes. I just lost about 30 pounds and when I tried them on the other night, I said, 'These are going out,'" Erbe said.

Whether it was baby goods, decorative items or kitchen equipment, Erbe said most everything was sold by Saturday, leaving almost nothing for the one person that stopped at her house Sunday.

"I think everybody knows that all the good stuff is gone by Saturday," Erbe said.

After she finally closed her garage Sunday afternoon, Erbe's pockets were filled with $250.

And what did she do with that money?

"Honestly, I bought myself two new pairs of shoes. There were these two pairs of shoes I was eyeing at that new store downtown and I just went and bought them," Erbe said laughing hysterically while defending her position. "I never splurge on myself and I was the one who did the garage sale, so I get the money."

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