Yard sales: epitome of recycling

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  There are three events you can count on in our mountain community: The Sugarloaf Fire Protection District Yard Sale, the Mountain Forum for Peace Yard Sale and the High Country Auxiliary Flea Market.

These community sales are kind of like Alice’s Restaurant, you can get anything you want. Well, just about anything. From kitchen sinks to skis, from Janis Joplin’s last meal, an Oreo cookie for $2,000 to a set of gold trimmed crystal glasses for $7.


The sale season begins at the Sugarloaf Fire Station which is packed with items that have been donated throughout the year. A team of volunteers puts these treasures on display in the same place every year. The books and clothes are in rooms in the back, the furniture is against the east wall, carpets and rugs are in a separate tent next to the building, electronics are against the north wall and all the big appliances, tools and outdoor furniture are in the parking lot.


Shoppers swarmed into the fire station on Friday morning of the Memorial Day weekend, hoping to find the treasure of their dreams before someone else found it. Of course, along the way, they found something else, a perfect dress for a night on the town, a water bowl for a dog or patio furniture.


One of the volunteers said that the sale usually brings in about $32,000 which goes to support the fire department.

Last weekend, Friday, June 2 through Sunday June 4, the MFP yard sale filled the Nederland Community Center. Within minutes of opening on Friday, the place was packed with shoppers. The kids scrambled to the back room where the toys were piled high, ready to be re-homed.


Three pairs of snowshoes were snatched up rapidly from the sports wall. An entire Christmas village was brought in, ready for someone to make a reasonable offer. Coffee makers, crock pots and fine china sets were among the kitchenware tables set up in the hallway.


It took five days to set up the goods, but the cleanup went a lot faster. On Sunday, the half price, $5 for a bag of clothes brought in a second large wave of people. After 12:30, everything was free.


Three boys were first in line saying they had dibs on the snowboards. Many of the people knew exactly where they were going when the doors opened so that when it was time, they fast walked to the items they wanted, hoping no one overtook them and grabbed it.


A couple of children found the toy cars and bikes they rode to the check out table. One child pulled a wagon laden with boxes and bags filled with finds. It was chaotic but fun, as the free stuff flew out of the center.
One young woman was looking through the women’s’ dresses when someone told her that everything was free. “Wow,” she said. “That changes everything,” and she went back to the shirts she had not picked up, thinking she was going over budget.


The Mountain Forum for Peace funds over 20 projects including: the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Attention Homes; Fair Shake Inc; MADRE; Self Empowerment Through Education; Boulder County and CO River Legal Defense Fund and local food banks and senior programs.


Next weekend, Friday June 5 and Saturday, June 6 the High Country Auxiliary will support the Timberline Fire Protection District, which is the backbone of the HC flea market, setting up and breaking down.


The flea market is the last huge sale of the summer and proceeds go to support TFPD. The Gilpin County exhibition hall at the community center hosts the event which brings in goods from residents who have culled their closets and shelves to bring to the market and make way for a new batch of cool stuff.


It is great fun to find an item that you didn’t know you really wanted and to go home feeling as if you made the good deal of the century.

The Mountain Forum for Peace sale brought in $11,261. Organizer Teagen Blakey says, “We had slightly less stuff this year with gave us the room to display it better, making it easier to shop. By Thursday evening when we usually still have boxed to be sorted, everything was out and mostly priced. We couldn’t do without our amazing volunteers would put in over 580 hours of work all week.”


(Originally published in the June 8, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.