Last year was Andy Ball’s first time participating as a homeowner in the Kempton Hills neighborhood garage sale. He sold some furniture, books and clothing. Friends came over to sell their stuff, too.
“I’m a little nervous to hear that it was a slower year than normal, because it was pretty busy,” Ball said. “There’s a lot of people here last year, that’s for sure. But I was told by neighbors, ‘Oh, this is not normal, this is a COVID year.’ And I went ‘Oh, crap.’ "
Around 30 to 40 houses participated in 2020 due to the pandemic, said Heather Jacobson, president of the Kempton Hills Homeowners Association. But on Saturday, she expects about half of the homeowners of the nearly 200-home South Anchorage neighborhood to participate in the annual garage sale.
The Kempton Hills garage sale been going on for about 35 years. For many, it’s a social outing. Hundreds of residents flock to the area, some towing Radio Flyer wagons down the sidewalk. Others haul in suitcases and strollers to fill with finds.
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And finds they are: Toolkits. Toys. Kayaks. Halloween decorations. Couches. Bikes. Dish sets. Moose antlers. Trampolines.
From newborn baby clothes to prom dresses, it’s all there.
“You kind of see the milestones because people stay in these homes for a long time,” said Jacobson, who has been a neighborhood resident since 2013.
In addition to families selling their household goods, some use the high volume of traffic to their advantage to support fundraising efforts. In the past, Girl Scout troops and soccer teams sold popcorn and hot dogs.
This year, however, there won’t be any prepared food for sale due to COVID-19, Jacobson said. Portable toilets and hand washing stations will be available.
In the past, nearby neighborhoods have aligned their yard sales to coincide with Kempton Hills’, she said.
Stanchions will line the street, with cars packed in on either side of Kempton Hills Drive.
Parking on the outskirts of the neighborhood is a better approach than driving through it, Jacobson said: Not only will you have a hard time finding parking, but you’ll probably just make traffic worse.
“Come on in, hike on in, and bring your wagon or whatever you might want to carry your treasures home,” Jacobson said.
Also, people sometimes tend to walk in the road, complicating attempts to drive through the neighborhood, Jacobson said.
“There’s so much foot traffic,” she said. “We just do our best to try and keep everybody safe.”
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Another piece of advice: Don’t be an “early bird,” Jacobson said. The sale doesn’t officially begin until 9 a.m. Saturday.
In addition to selling some of his own items this year, Ball is selling some furniture for his parents, who are downsizing. His friends are driving over a U-Haul, filled with furniture and “purged” items.
“We live right on the corner — like, we are the first house when you come into Kempton Hills,” he said. “So we like playing the part. Usually, if I don’t have stuff to sell, I’ll let my friends and my parents sell their stuff.”
Ball said he attended the sale previously as a patron, probably “three or four times,” picking up some “knicky-knack-type things” but nothing worthy of “Antiques Roadshow” — yet.
He did score a free guitar amp with a familiar history.
“I posted it on Facebook like, ‘Wow, look at what I just got at the Kempton Hills garage sale for free,’ " Ball said. “One of my friends on Facebook was like, ‘Wait, that looks like my old amp.’ ”
Turns out, it was. His friend’s dad had put it out on the curb as a freebie item.
“It’s a really cool event,” Ball said. “I’m still trying to figure out my place in it.”