LAKE CITY — Fill up the gas tank or charge your EV, and stick some cash in your pocket -- the 100-Mile Garage Sale is open for business on both sides of the Mississippi River.
"We barely got the stuff out, and they (the shoppers) were coming in," said Bob Lynch Thursday – officially Day 1 of the four-day sale – sitting in the front yard at his son's house as buyers perused the tables of merchandise.
Stretching from Winona and north on U.S. Highway 61 through Wabasha, Lake City and Red Wing to Hastings, then across the river to Prescott, Wis., and down Wisconsin Highway 35 through Buffalo City and back to Winona, the annual garage sale is part commerce and part community event.
Lynch's daughter-in-law, Lila Lynch, said she's been a seller for the garage sale for several years, and was pleased to see a steady flow of traffic coming through their yard where everything from gently used kids clothes to an extended Chevy passenger van was on display.
Lila Lynch said they actually started selling on Wednesday, and are hoping to stop selling by late Friday.
Down the road, seller Sandra Selleseth said the good crowds made the first official day of the garage sale feel like the world was returning to business as usual as COVID-19 restrictions are reduced.
"It's another step toward feeling normal again," Selleseth said.
Lake City resident Terry Stuhr was thrilled to show off a great deal – a steal of a deal, really – he'd made. He paid $10 for a commemorative map that showed off each state's unique quarter, meaning the item he bought held a cash value of $12.50, and he only paid 10 bucks.
Stuhr said he wasn't looking for anything in particular, but just loved getting a good deal.
"If it's a great deal, I'll buy it," Stuhr said.
Steve Austrum, who came over from River Falls, Wis., with his daughter Nichole Mattison, said he likes to shop the 100-Mile Garage Sale every year.
"We started at 7 (a.m.) and came over to the Minnesota side, then we'll go back on the Wisconsin side," Austrum said. "We do this every year and look for fun things to find."
Pat Holderbecker, a West Albany resident who was selling at her friend's house in Lake City, said she used to love shopping during the garage sale weekend, but now she's trying to downsize.
"I always enjoy seeing the people and visiting with people," Holderbecker said. "I even run into some people I know."
Holderbecker said tools and kitchenware seems to move the best, but she's hoping to find that right shopper who wants to take an electric fireplace off her hands.
"I don't want to take it home," she laughed.
It wasn't just buyers and sellers who were glad to see the annual event back after its pandemic break in 2020. Patti Holland, owner of the Town & Country Cafe in Kellogg, said she baked extra pies, cinnamon rolls and cookies to sell for all the garage sale shoppers who typically stop at her shop to refuel for the shopping marathon.
"The garage sale is probably one of our biggest weekends of the year," Holland said. "We have our special of hot beef and mashed potatoes like most years, and people come in expecting it."