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One sale to rule them all: 100-Mile Garage Sale returns

The Mississippi River has traditionally been a hub for commerce in the region. It is only fitting that it serves as the backdrop for the annual 100-Mile Garage Sale going on Thursday through Saturday in the Lake Pepin area.

A path marked by balloons and ribbons will guide thousands of bargain-hunters through 15 towns along the Mississippi River. The roughly 100-mile route goes from Hastings down to Winona on the Minnesota side of the river, and from Fountain City up to Prescott on the Wisconsin side, according to the sale's website.

The 100-Mile Garage Sale will feature more than a thousand sales put on by individuals, organizations and businesses, said Vicki Stark, marketing specialist for Mississippi Valley Partners, the event's organizer.

"It amazes me the response and interest people have shown," Stark said, adding that she has taken calls from people all over the country asking when the sale starts and where they can stay in the area.

People will be bringing trailers full of items to sell from as far away as Texas, she said.

Being an outdoor event, there may be concern over this year's unpredictable -- and often nasty -- spring weather, but Stark said the sale will go on come rain, shine or even snow.

Because of the sheer scale of the 100-Mile Garage Sale, "there's really no stopping it now," Stark said.

A few changes

New for this year's event is a specially designed website that lists sale locations and the items being offered, and allows users to search through listings to help plan their route.

"People have been asking for a website for years," Stark said. "It's a really nice addition."

Anyone planning to host a sale can sign up to have it listed for free any time before the end of the event.

Since she launched the site April 9, Stark said the response has been strong. Users have already registered close to a hundred sales and the website has garnered more than 16,000 pageviews.

"It's mobile, too, so people can use it while they're at the sales," Stark said.

Another change this year is that, unlike previous sales that went through the weekend, this year's event only officially goes through Saturday May 4.

"We found the sales aren't as busy on Sundays and people start to pack up," Stark said. But there should still be a fair amount of sales that continue to stay open on Sunday, she added.

This is also the first time Hastings will officially take part in the sale after becoming a member of the Mississippi Valley Partnership last year.

Founded in 1992, Mississippi Valley Partnership is a multi-state marketing organization that promotes businesses around Lake Pepin, according to the group's website,

The site provides a list of area lodging and restaurant options for sale-goers.

Local sellers gear up

There are already close to a dozen Red Wing sales registered on the 100-Mile Garage Sale website, including fundraising events for a couple local organizations.

Red Wing Arts Association will hold an artists art sale 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 2 and 3 at the Depot.

"We're very excited to be a part of the sale again this year," said Arlene Roth, assistant director for association.

The sale will feature jewelry, gift items and a variety of art work pieces made by members and friends, Roth said.

"A few artists have already donated some one-of-a-kind pieces that will be available for a reasonable price," she added.

Money made at the sale will go to pay operating costs as well as fund yearly events like the Concerts in the Park series, Roth said.

Dawnbreakers Kiwanis also will hold a sale May 2 to 4 at Colvill Courtyard, with proceeds going to support the group's high school scholarships, the Colvill Family Center Toy Library and annual Safety Camp.

"This is our major fundraiser event each year," said Roger Hand, Dawnbreakers Kiwanis treasurer. Without the money from the sale, the group would not be able to put on the Safety Camp this year, he said.

Dawnbreakers Kiwanis is looking for donated items from the community to help stock the garage sale, including household items, books, tools and sporting goods.

"We get all sorts of things from knick-knacks to furniture," Hand said.

But the group will not accept electronics or exercise equipment because disposal costs are too high if the items are not sold, he added.

There will be a drop-off event 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 2 at the Colvill Courtyard. Items can also be dropped off at any time during the sale.

For more information on the garage sale or to schedule a pick-up time for items to be donated, call 651-388-9696.

If you go ...

What: 100-Mile Garage Sale

When: Thursday May 2 to Saturday May 4

Where: 15 river towns along the Mississippi

More info:

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875