Heading to Le Garage Sale? Don't miss these tips
Eighteen years ago, Wendy Kyle, the owner of children's clothing boutique Wild Child, gathered a group of her fellow boutique owners and created the ultimate sale in local fashion finds — Le Garage Sale.
Now twice a year (usually in January and August), more than 120 vendors fill the Palmer Events Center and sell off things they have left from the season or items they sense they've overstocked. Most of the time the sales are 40 percent off or better, says Le Garage Sale owner Suellen Young, who took it over about nine years ago.
Many of the vendors have brick-and-mortar stores, but some are online only. Vendors also use the sale to network and find new lines and artisans to carry in their stores.
The sale Jan. 26-27 is expected to bring about 3,000 to 3,500 shoppers, Young says.
We asked Young, vendors and shoppers to give us some of their best tips for attending the sale.
Who should go?
There are boutiques for women, men and children as well as vendors that sell home decor items, jewelry and vintage. Kids younger than 16 are free.
How to get there
You have to pay to park in the garage ($8-$10), and last year the garage filled up. Consider using a ride-hailing app or having a friend drop you off and pick you up.
How to dress
Wear a skirt or leggings and a smooth-fitting top. Many of the boutiques don't have dressing rooms. You need to be able to try on a pair of jeans right at the vendor's booth.
Wear layers. It can get cold inside the event center, but you need to be able to take off layers to try things on.
Wear comfortable shoes you can slip on and off. There are 100 booths to see, plus walking to and from your car. This is not the time for heels. Plus, there might be cute shoes you need to try on.
What to bring
Cash. Many of the smaller vendors might not accept credit cards, though more and more are. Some vendors have a minimum before they will let you use a credit card. It can be $50 or more for a minimum. The entrance fee at the door is cash only. If you forgot to bring cash, you can use your phone to go to the Eventbrite link on legaragesale.net to pay that way.
Bags. Many of the vendors have bags, but sometimes they run out. You might want to bring a couple of cloth bags.
Your phone. If you're shopping for someone else, you can send photos or FaceTime to make sure an item will work for them. Or you can ask for friends' opinions before you buy. Typically there are no returns.
A water bottle. Yes, there's a bar cart, but good hydration will help you stay longer and think more clearly about your purchases.
When should I go?
Presale. An hour before the sale officially opens, the presale happens at 10 a.m. People line up for that because they want to get the best selection. It's a $20 ticket to get in that hour before.
Right at 11 a.m. Saturday. If you don't want to pay the presale price, you can line up to be one of the first non-VIPs to get in. There will still be a good selection of most sizes.
Saturday afternoon. It's not as crowded as right when it opens, and people have begun to fan out from the front vendors. Saturday is still more crowded than Sunday.
Sunday morning. Yes, some of the sizes and items will have sold out the day before, but often vendors will restock either Saturday night after the sale closes or Sunday morning before it opens.
Sunday afternoon. The best deals happen as the sale wears on. Vendors don't want to take their stuff back with them. Sometimes there's even bargaining.
A time when you don't have to rush. This is a three-to-four-hour event. Block off time so you can search through the piles and explore as many booths as you want.
Go both days, if you can. Vendors change out what they are selling. Early Saturday offers the most sizes. Late Sunday has the best sales.
How can I find what I'm looking for?
Study the map. Le Garage Sale has paper maps you can study while you're waiting in line. Young is toying with actually putting the map online this year for those ultimate planners.
Look by vendor type. Young tries to group vendors by similarities, such as all the kids' clothing in one spot, all the men's in another, but it doesn't always work out that way.
Remember where your favorite booths were last year. Often vendors request the same location year after year. By the bathrooms and by the bar cart are popular places, as are spots by the entrance.
Start at the back and work your way forward. It's less crowded at the back, and you'll have a better chance of seeing more of what's there as you're walking to the back rather than never even getting to the back before you have to go home.
If you're interested in everything, consider this order: kids' clothing, women's clothing, men's clothing, jewelry and home decor. There aren't as many kids' clothing vendors, and sizes go quickly. Women's clothing also can run out of sizes earlier. Items like jewelry and home decor are one-size-fits-all, so there's no concern about running out of your size.
What makes it fun?
The deals. Most stores are offering 40 percent to 75 percent off, but some have even deeper discounts.
The unusual finds. Some vendors even sell their holiday decorations.
The finding new vendors. You don't have to go all around town or search the web to find a new store.
The DJ. He keeps the vibe fun and plays to the crowd.
The bar cart. There are also food items such as sandwiches available at the Palmer Events Center's food vendors.
Sources: Suellen Young of Le Garage Sale; vendors Spring Frost Castillo of Spring Frost, Chris Applegate of Shed Barber and Supply, Tessie Watson Crow of Longhorn Fashions, Sydney Barrosse of Rosse & James, Stephanie Coultress of Estilo and Claire Fields of Beehive; and shoppers Kristi Kingston, Courtney Sebesta, Deborah Sengupta Stith, Kristen Chin and Lindsay Pease