Garage sale has hit its stride at convention center

The 24th edition of “South Carolina’s Largest Garage Sale” will take over the Myrtle Beach Convention Center for seven hours on Saturday.

Anyone looking for some odds and ends, or something to discover by sheer browsing, will have quite the spread to start their day or to work up an appetite for lunch by walking around by all the wares. Maybe someone is looking for a “Disco Duck” album on vinyl, from 1976 by Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots, which never was issued on CD. Or maybe a Texas Rangers fan hopes to find an Elvis Andrus baseball card from his stint in 2007 playing for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, when it was still an Atlanta Braves farm club.

Mark Kruea, Myrtle Beach city spokesman, said the last few vendor spaces of the 280 total slots for the garage sale were claimed Aug. 20, for another sellout, in a year that demand among sellers struck him as strong.

Paul Edwards, the convention center’s general manager, spoke about the grand size of this sale and in the amount of traffic that turns out every year in what has become a tradition right around back-to-school time. He said this marks the fourth year since the sale was moved inside from the Pavilion parking garage.

Question | What amazes you each year, not with just the diversity of sales items, but with the throngs of folks who turn out to shop and find treasures in other people’s discards?

Answer | We can still find the same vendors every year who still have something to sell. I don’t know where it comes from or if it just changes hands. ... There are people out there who can bring this much of everything just once a year: That’s still amazing in that people accumulate more stuff or that they just want to sell it. It’s a never-ending supply of stuff to sell at this garage sale.

Q. | What makes this event stand out from the various other affairs that happen the rest of the year, such as a cheerleader tourney, circus or music festival?

A. | The one big thing with this is we run the whole show. With other events, we help them coordinate; it’s them doing business as a customer. With the garage sale, we are the customer, the client, the producer. ... We make it all happen ourselves. ... As far as the amount of time it takes, it’s not as burdensome, with an attention to detail, as we have in a lot of other events. A lot of times, if things go wrong with different events, it’s things we don’t have control over.

Q. | When the sale opens to the public, what’s that moment at 7 a.m. entail, from your staff’s perspective looking out?

A. | People are at the doors. They don’t wait until lunchtime to shop. People who are really serious about it are here at 7, ready to go. So it’s like the other garage sales that go on around the Myrtle Beach area, which sellers say, “No early birds.” We can keep them out until 7 a.m.

Q. | How has the transition gone from the city garage sale shifting to the convention center from the parking garage, which weather conditions could alter, especially on a windy, rainy day?

A. | I was involved then, too, when it was in the garage. The biggest difference at the convention center, for vendors, is they are able to move in on Friday at a reasonable hour, then they feel safe leaving their stuff here, because we have security. It works out so that by 7 a.m., when the doors open, they’re not really worn out from set-up from when it opens or when it closes. Getting all their stuff set up, they take their time getting it in all in place, and really positioning everything where people can see it well. A lot of people spend four or five hours getting it set up with the Friday move-in.

Q. | Any unusual or quirky items you’ve seen move from sellers’ to buyers’ hands, or things you found on your own on a break to shop yourself?

A. I bought a stuffed otter and a stuffed bobcat. The stuffed otter has been the thing that people talked about.

Q. | How can the economic impact be measured from this sale?

A. | The average booth sells about $600 in stuff. We figure between $150,000 and $200,000 changes hands here for every sale. A vendor with a slower sale is going to take in $300, and if you have 280 vendors, possibly a quarter of a million dollars changes hands. That’s pretty amazing.

Q. | How many booths/tables are outside versus inside the convention center?

A. | Fifteen spots are outside; they were the last ones to go. In previous years, since the move to the convention center, everybody wanted to stay outside, and now they’ve figured it out. Now, they’re the last thing to go.

Q. | What other conveniences are lined up to help shoppers who want to make a day of it among the many aisles?

A. | We’ve had coffee and doughnuts for people waiting in line, and we have plenty of concessions here ... to keep them fed while they’re shopping.

Q. | Just how easy is getting pumped up for this sale?

A. | We look at it as entertainment. If you don’t buy a thing and you spend two hours walking through, you will be entertained. It’s definitely a show.