Way back in 1979, Realtor Brenda Flick wanted to get to know the neighbors.
So she organized a garage sale, persuading about 25 households to stake out a spot on their driveways to clear some storage space and have a little fun in the process.
On Saturday, the first day of what has become an annual ritual, more than 136 households participated in the Sunwood Neighborhood Garage Sale. Flick believes the two-day is the largest of its kind in the country.
“We typically get thousands of shoppers, many who come back year after year,” she said. Flick believes the crowds are attracted by the “bargains and because there are so many sellers all in one place,” giving shoppers a wide variety of choices.
In addition to the used clothing and thumbed-through paperbacks that form the bread and butter of garage sales, there were offbeat items that seemed to tell something about the seller’s life: a large antique gas range carcass labeled as “a very large planter,” an old Italian sewing machine, a gumball dispenser, vinyl records and a 90-year-old steamer trunk, complete with yellowing travel stickers -- although this last offering was withdrawn almost as soon as it was brought out onto the driveway (“Dad! You can’t sell that!”).
Lin Aldrich could tell stories about many of the things she put on sale. Aldrich sold her daughter’s crib early in the morning and was still waiting for an offer on her mother-in-law’s Royal typewriter.
“She wrote everything on it: her recipe cards, her letters, everything. So it’s very special,” Aldrich said, explaining that she was selling it because “I have so much more of her stuff and it’s good to let some things go.”
For buyers, the big sale offered great bargains and a festive atmosphere. Kevin Nouri, who lives in the neighborhood, said he loved walking around and being able to “pick up some soccer ball or some sporting equipment, stuff that you don’t want to pay full price for.”
Nouri was on his way to check out the rocks and fossils at his favorite spread, but took a break to grab some food for his wife, who had stayed home.
He and other shoppers had plenty of refreshments to choose from at the sale. Budding entrepreneurs manned lemonade stands and hawked cold sodas or homemade cookies. A few homeowners set up grills for hamburgers and hotdogs. Alma Rosa and her mother sold tamales out of a portable cooler.
But for Nouri and many others, the biggest attraction at this year’s sale was Janice Huynh’s egg rolls.
“I already had some for breakfast,” Nouri admitted, “but my wife wants some and so I’m back. They’re absolutely delicious.”
Huynh’s famous, home-made egg rolls are one of the top draws at the Sunwood Garage Sale. Customers line up on her driveway and wait for the latest batch to finish frying.
This year, she made 2,400 egg rolls, all by hand, even choosing to chop her own filling instead of buying ground meat at the store.
“I told my boss that I was taking the day off to make egg rolls,” Huynh said with a laugh. “He just told me to have fun.”
Huynh said it’s a lot of hard work, but worth it because it makes so many people happy. Besides, she joked, her neighbors wouldn’t let her stop anyway.
The sales in Sunwood continue Sunday. Flick said crowds are typically smaller on Sundays and that many items are heavily discounted as the two-day bonanza draws to a close.