Arena parking lot filled with shoppers

By Gus Bode

The 33rd Annual Art, Craft and Yard Sale took place Saturday in front of the Arena.

What do Budweiser blowups, Hallmark ornaments and antique carnival glass have in common?

The same exact thing that electric guitars, used Levi Jeans, and kettle corn do.

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They were all for sale at the 33rd Annual Art, Craft and Yard Sale, hosted by the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce.

Starting at dawn Saturday, vendors filled the SIU Arena parking lot. With them, they brought their $35 set-up fee, tables, and everything else one could think of.

And despite smothering mid-morning heat, the people came.

Some of them, vendors and shoppers, came a long way.

Amanda Haynes, 19, drove six hours from the University of Iowa on Friday to see her boyfriend, SIUC student Stephen Armstrong, 19, an undecided sophomore from Charleston.

The couple hit the Strip, the movies and the yard sale.

“We are about the only people under – say 30 – here, but it is still pretty fantastic,” Haynes said.

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She debated buying a vintage red velvet chair for $10 but said the heat kept her from making the purchase.

“The heat actually saved me money,” Hanes said. “If it weren’t so hot, I would have bought the thing. I just kept looking at it thinking it is just too hot to carry that heavy thing to the truck.”

But the heat didn’t keep her from buying “The Great Gatsby” in paperback for a quarter.

She got away cheaper than Armstrong, who paid $4 to add Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty and Steve Miller to his record collection.

Even though they spent under $5 together, the vendors still say it is worth their trip.

Even when they come from Paris, Tenn., like Betty and Dale Whiting.

The Whitings have been making the 300-mile trip to Carbondale for 18 years.

“Our success keeps us coming back,” she said.

Betty’s job is to go to other yard sales and buy things she thinks could be sold again for a profit. She doesn’t want to clutter her front yard having sales every Saturday, so she and her husband come to Carbondale to resell her purchases.

“Plus, she wouldn’t want people coming to her house and seeing their old stuff sitting there for sale again,” added her daughter, Paulette Brewer, who has been setting up with her parents for 10 years.

Now, even Brewer’s children are coming along, making it a three-generation family event – a four-generation event if you count the family dog, Merry, who was lying in the sun, watching as her owners worked.

“We really do this to have a good time,” Dale Whiting said. “And it is nice to make a few bucks.”

The money did come this year, but maybe a bit slower than in years past.

The Whiting family said the sale has really changed over the years.

They believe that it was a lot smaller this year, maybe because of the lack of an auction and barbecue that used to be part of the annual event.

In addition, they say they used to see the same vendors every year.

“We used to all be friends,” Dale said. “But now, we hardly know anyone.”

And next year, even the Whitings may not come.

At 71 years old, Dale says he is just getting too old for the long day.

For him, the day starts at nightfall Friday. They are packed up and ready to leave at 1:30 Saturday morning. By 5:30, they are in Carbondale setting up. They leave when the last shopper does, officially at 4:30, and don’t get home until late that night.

For the most part, they say the hard work is worth it. And they said that even though the heat was smothering, it is a lot better than the rain.

“And it has rained a time or two over the years,” Betty Whiting said. “That is when it is just no fun.”

But for the most part, they say the unique people and a diverse variety of things keeps their day interesting.

As Betty takes a $1 bill for a soccer ball picture frame, it just goes to show that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Reporter Kristina Herrndobler can be reached at [email protected]

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