What can be more American than the American flag, apple pie and garage sales? In the city of Elk River, the flag and pie are OK, but garage sales are another matter! They do not want the tax-paying residents of the city cluttering up the boulevards with unsightly signs.
Not only are garage sales fun, people can put a reasonable price on items that they no longer want or use, and thrifty people and people who maybe cannot afford new prices find things they need at reasonable prices. Both parties win and it is a form of recycling.
Garage sales are a hobby with some folks. They enjoy looking and often times find something that they simply “cannot live without.” Garage sales give pleasure!
When I am traveling and see a garage sale sign, I, too, stop to scope it out. I generally also find a place to have lunch or dessert or both while I am in that particular community. Garage sales can be good for the local economy.
Perhaps if all garage sale signs were of uniform size and color they would not look so bad. Signs could be purchased at the City Hall or some other convenient location, for a nominal fee above the cost of their printing. That would solve the unsightly look problem. At the time of purchase, the garage sale person would put their address and phone number on the back of the sign. Signs could not be put up until the day before the sale and must be taken down no later than one day after the sale. If the city crew has to pick up a sign, it is returned to City Hall and the owner is fined a set fee for not taking the sign down.
Some communities near us have citywide garage sales one weekend during the spring or summer months. They are widely advertised and they do draw people from near and far to shop, not only at our garage sales, but also our shops in downtown Elk River. They might also eat at one our many restaurants while they are here.
This could be a win-win situation for both the city and the residents. It is worth a try. —Pat Schwappach, Elk River