July 27, 2009
Annual Route 90 garage sales fill road with bargain hunters
HOMER — A morning of hectic sales activity ended quietly Saturday on Cayuga Street in the village.
At 1 p.m., some residents were packing up their leftover wares, while a few remaining shoppers dawdled by the First United Methodist Church’s tent to grab one of the last of the hamburgers coming off the grill.
The Route 90 Sales, a collective yard sale stretching 50 miles and held the last Saturday of July, had ended for another year.
“There’s real competition,” said Kathy Lawrence, a SUNY Cortland associate professor of communications who lives at 17 Cayuga St. — one extreme end of the sale. “By 8 o’clock, we’d already brought out a whole new set of stuff.”
Lawrence said this year the sale seemed bigger than in previous years. Crowds of shoppers flocked to yards up and down the stretch of highway from Main Street in Homer though Locke, Genoa, Union Springs and into Montezuma.
Lawrence said she participates in the sale in some form every year.
“If I’m not selling, I’m walking,” she said.
This year, she was selling — carpets, lamps, furniture, all neatly arrayed in front of her home and on tables in the driveway.
She said this year’s balmy weather may have brought out the larger throng of garage-salers, but that possibly the national economic slump had some impact as well.
“They’re more interested in bargain-hunting now,” she said. “And more people are putting stuff out. Plus, the weather today is beautiful.”
There’s no organizing authority that oversees the annual sale, Lawrence said.
“People just know, if you’re going to have a sale, this is the best day to do it,” she said.
Across the street from Lawrence’s house, members of the First United Methodist Church of Homer were grilling hotdogs and hamburgers and serving lemonade. In the morning, they had sold breakfast sausage sandwiches and coffee.
“It’s amazing how many people have been through,” said Cortland resident Carl Hicks, chairman of the church’s men’s group, who had come with his wife, Kathy, to volunteer at the church’s stand.
Hicks said people had come long distances to experience the 50-mile sale.
“I met someone this morning who was from Massachusetts,” he said. “And there was a fellow here from Florida who bought a table.”
The church group was selling a wide variety of household goods, such as lamps, bookends and tables — all donations from the congregation.
“It’s a day to really help the church out,” said Hicks. “And at the same time, you get to meet a lot of wonderful people.”
For Lawrence, the goal was more to clear out space in the house.
“The rule is, you’ve got to take something out if you’re bringing something in,” she said.
Her friend and fellow SUNY associate professor of psychology Judy Ouellette was helping with Lawrence’s sale.
She said the atmosphere during the Route 90 Sales is friendlier than at independent yard and garage sales held throughout the year.
“People come ready to buy. They know what they’re looking for,” Ouellette said. “It’s more fun.”
Eyeing the remaining goods on Lawrence’s front lawn, Ouellette said she had a somewhat selfish reason for hoping for further sales.
“I know that anything that doesn’t go, we have to carry back in,” she said.
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