The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 18, 2014

Future of Garage Sale Bonanza in question

ASHTABULA — The Garage Sale Bonanza that draws bargain hunters is losing its key leaders, leaving the future of the entire sale in question.

The 15th Garage Sale Bonanza was held July 9, 11, 12 and in the Saybrook Plaza. This year was unusual because four volunteers retired at the end of this sale — Dick Mueller, Mary Martin, Linda Morse, and Pat Paulchel.  

Susan Deak, executive director of the Wellness & Total Learning Center, said she hopes the annual sale will continue in some form in the future. To that end, a meeting with all interested groups and individuals to restructure the sale will be held at 10 a.m. July 26 at the Saybrook Plaza.

The Wellness & Total Learning Center’s (WTLC) first garage sale was held in a private garage in 2000, and generated funds to benefit WTLC only.

“Volunteers realized they provided a service by helping donors simplify their lives, clearing out no longer needed items to make space for current items,” Deak said. “Shoppers gained usable items at lower prices and our non-profit organization was helped to offer more services to more people. This was a win-win-win activity.”

 From that first sale grew the vision that created Garage Sale Bonanza as a cooperative venture to benefit several non-profit organizations in Ashtabula County.

“Thanks to the generosity of the late Mr. Paul Demshar, we moved into the Heavenly Ham building in Saybrook, and in 2006 we set up in the Saybrook Plaza, courtesy of Saybrook Merchants and Kest Property Management Group,” Deak said. “We are grateful for their generous support of this community event.”

During the past 15 years, a total of 26 local non-profit organizations have been helped to keep their doors open, and to expand their services to better meet the needs of area residents.

“All the money generated at Garage Sale Bonanza has stayed in Ashtabula County,” Deak said. “About 5,000 shoppers benefited from it each year.”

Shoppers came from Pennsylvania and New York, and some from as far away as California and Connecticut.

“Some shoppers regularly scheduled their vacations to coincide with the Garage Sale Bonanza,” Deak said. “It has provided a variety of individuals a resource not readily found elsewhere.”

The sale is great for people who are in need of household items; for example, college-bound students or people setting up their first home, have come to rely on the Garage Sale Bonanza to supply a wide range of household items in one shopping extravaganza, she said.

Proceeds from the Garage Sale Bonanza support many local nonprofit agencies, which in turn support individuals within the community at other times of the year.

“Volunteers from each nonprofit organization worked co-operatively under the guidance and dedicated leadership of volunteers Mueller, Martin, Morse and Paulchel,” Deak said. “These four key leaders, who have devoted their summers to this enterprise for most of these 15 years are looking forward to retirement.

“They have generously shared their time, energy, knowledge, and resources with other volunteers in order to make this a well-organized shopping experience. We honor and appreciate their gifts to the people of Ashtabula County.”

Deak hopes the July 26 meeting will result in creative ways for Garage Sale Bonanza to continue, she said.

“Ashtabula County has suffered enough losses,” she said. “Garage Sale Bonanza has proved to be one vehicle by which the community can continue to help itself.”

Deak said most people are unaware of the magnitude of work that goes into setting up the event. Last year alone, the sale required 14,120 volunteer hours.

“For Garage Sale Bonanza to continue in some form, WTLC needs people to come forward with ideas, learn what we know already works, as well as helping to restructure it,” she said. “We may need a new centralized location with adequate space and parking, if our present location gets filled by a retailer. We would also then need a secure, dry place to store sales fixtures during the months between sales.”

Deak said she’s grateful for 15 years of Garage Sale Bonanza and “it’s with optimism that we look forward to the development and restructuring of future sales.”

Call the Wellness & Total Learning Center (WTLC) at 440-997-5353 if you are interested in the sale’s future, but unable to attend the meeting.


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