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'It’s wonderful being a part of people’s tradition': 100 Mile Garage Sale underway in SE Minnesota

The yearly tradition of garage sales stretching down Highway 61 in Minnesota has kicked off once again, and many people have flocked to their favorites stops to discover any great deals they can find.

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May 6, 2022, Lake City - Garage sale shoppers flock from home to home as they look for the best deals on items they are and are not looking for.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin
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LAKE CITY — The dreadfully slow start to spring is over and could not have come at a better time for garage sale enthusiasts as the most famous stretch of garage sales in Minnesota along Highway 61 kicked off this weekend.

People from all parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and many points beyond flock to their favorite towns and neighborhoods to discover the best finds in someone else's garage or driveway.

Many of these garage sales started off on Thursday, May 5, 2022, for residents of Lake City, Wabasha and Red Wing. Many residents in these cities have participated in the 100 Mile Garage Sale for years, but there have also been some newcomers to the event such as Monica Garcia of Lake City.

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Garcia and her family had moved to Lake City from Prior Lake, Minn., three years ago and joined in on the 100 Mile Garage Sale last year for the first time.

“It’s so nice to interact with all the people and find out where they’re coming from,” said Garcia. “We had people here yesterday from Mankato, St. Paul, and even southern Iowa. My family and I had moved from California five years ago to Minnesota, and the weather is so much nicer this time of year for garage sales than it is there.”

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The 100 Mile Garage Sale is a tradition that cannot be missed out every year for others as well, such as Ed and Janet Plein of Kasson, Minn. The Pleins, who own and operate The O Zone, a mini donut food truck, have been a part of the 100 Mile Garage Sale for 18 years and only missed out in 2020 due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s wonderful being a part of people’s tradition,” said Janet Plein. “We have been in the same spot every year so people always know where to find us.”

The spot the Pleins always park their truck at is directly off of Highway 61 on the north end of Lake City and directly south of Staehil Park Road. The home they have been parked in front of for all 18 years has had many different owners, but the change of ownership has never changed the welcoming of the Pleins to their spot.

“We always be sure to tell the owners who are leaving to inform the new homeowners about us, and no one has ever pushed us away,” said Janet Plein.

The Pleins started their food truck business 19 years ago as a way to get out of debt and make sure their two sons make it through college debt-free.

"After 19 years, both our sons are now through college debt-free, and we can enjoy serving mini donuts on weekends like this one even more,” said Ed Plein.

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May 6, 2022, Lake City - Ed Plein works on his mini donut machine flipping a batch over for the next customer in line.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

Being a part of people’s tradition at the beginning of each May is something the Pleins take great pride in. This also gives the Pleins the opportunity to listen to great stories from many garage sale shoppers over the years.

“There is a group of five sisters that meet up here every year from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. They always come on Saturday and are on a mission to find the most unique and bizarre items at these garage sales to purchase. After they do, they make a pit stop to visit us share some food and show us what they found,” said Janet Plein.

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There are also those who participate in the 100 Mile Garage sale going into it believing this will be their last year in the sale, but changing their minds after the fact. Brenda Armod and Jane Bouvette of Red Wing always tag team on their garage sale believing each year will be their last, but have found a way to continue their sale for a decade.

“Every year we say this will be our last year doing it, but we just have too much fun meeting new people and seeing familiar faces,” said Bouvette.

“We get a lot of people from places you wouldn’t expect, like one man stopping in from Maine yesterday,” said Armod. “Their stories are also a lot of fun to hear, especially when they’re coming from these far away places.”

The 100 Mile Garage Sale will continue throughout the weekend stretching from Hastings to Winona. Garage Sales signs can be found all along Highway 61 and any stop could be one where people find something they could never expect.

Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or ttollefson@postbulletin.com.
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