The Star-Herald

Citywide yard sales a mixed blessing

To the editor:

The idea of citywide yard sales are, at first blush, very attractive to those who love yard sales and flea markets in general, and of course they are a tremendous draw for tourism for these municipalities. However, after years of having these spectacles, particularly in Caribou and Presque Isle, I can unequivocally call those a catastrophe for us locals who enjoy this pastime throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Caribou’s citywide is usually mid-May and Presque Isle’s follows usually in the first week of June. Before these events started being held, there were quite a few yard sales held in the month or so prior. Alas, no more. This year there were two. The reason? Everyone waits to hold their yard sales until the citywide dates. The result? Pretty much a bust for yard-sale enthusiasts until the big dates.

Granted, those citywide yard sale days are lots of fun. But here’s the thing: You can only get to so many of those yard sales. After a few hours, you’re either out of energy, money, patience, gas or all of the above. I’d much rather have four or five yard sales every weekend. You can get to them all and you usually don’t run out of energy or funds. It’s way more enjoyable.

After the citywide yard sales, you also have a complete dearth of what I call “virgin” yard sales. For weeks and sometimes months after the citywides, the only yard sales are repeat sales from the citywides. People hosting those citywide yard sales leave them set up and try to “sucker” people to revisit their “picked-over bones.”

The other major damage these citywides cause is a tremendous loss of our local history and heritage. Before these citywide events, local yard salers would buy local antiques, then resell them in their own yard sales after enjoying them for a spell. Now with the citywides, what you have is a large contingent of dealers, collectors and tourists from out of state, buying up our local heritage and taking it out of the area. The longer we have these citywides, the deeper will be our loss in historial local relics.

This is a sad state of affairs indeed, but I do not see the citywides ending anytime soon. The area is seeing a boon to their pocketbook and sometimes leaders are quite short-sighted when they have to look over their bulging pocketbooks.

In the meantime, what am I going to do? As Festus Hagen would say on “Gunsmoke,” “Well, golly gee, Bill, I’m going yard saling.”

See you out there.

Clare Kierstead

Presque Isle

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