Garage Sale MadnessIn the not-so-distant past, I used to enjoy the gradual appearance of garage sale signs at two main intersections in Cloquet. Coinciding with the arrival of spring, they were entrepreneurial blossoms, greeting the warmer weather while perched on their own manmade stems.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
In the not-so-distant past, I used to enjoy the gradual appearance of garage sale signs at two main intersections in Cloquet. Coinciding with the arrival of spring, they were entrepreneurial blossoms, greeting the warmer weather while perched on their own manmade stems.
Those days are gone.
Now we are greeted by enormous, garish, scribbled signs taped to cars and trucks all over the Wood City. Be careful what you wish for … because those signs are also a distraction to drivers.
There is hope, however.
According to Al Cottingham, planning and zoning administrator for Cloquet, there’s been some talk of putting up a community bulletin board near the city-owned parking lot west of US Bank.
What a fabulous idea.
Putting signs AND a bulletin board adjacent to the parking lot between US Bank and above Veterans Park would not stop traffic on the street like before. Rather, people could pull in, park and then go write down addresses, photograph them with their smart phones and make a plan. They could chat with other garage sale enthusiasts and save on gas (because they won’t be driving around looking for random sales).
Then, every Monday morning, some lucky city employee could go and clear out all the signs that weren’t picked up over the weekend and throw them away. End of story … until the next week.
It would solve the problem identified by Cloquet resident Jessica Rath, on the first weekend police started enforcing the city’s prohibition against signs on the boulevards (and particularly the boulevards at the corners of 14th Street and both Carlton and Washington Avenues that people used to post on).
“It’s too bad because it (the popular sign corners) is very ‘community’ and people just know where to go,” said a displeased Rath two years ago. “People today said they were driving all over the place trying to find where other garage sales were.”
Community is made up of many different things. Volunteers, streets and sewers, neighbors, garage sales …
Deputy Police Chief Terry Hill is correct in pointing out that there are myriad websites promoting garage sales for free. In fact, the CPD even has a link to such a site on its own website.
While the Internet wastes no paper, it lacks a certain charm as well as that community feeling Rath referred to. Plus, access to the web definitely isn’t free. It requires the proper equipment and generally some kind of paid access, so you’re missing a segment of the population if all you do is advertise (paid or otherwise) online.
While we like the community billboard idea, we hope the city won’t expect people to only post at the one community bulletin board/cruising strip for garage sale gearheads. A sign in the neighbor’s yard at the corner is still necessary to attract impulse rummage-sale shoppers, and to force people to get to know their neighbors well enough to ask permission to place the (we hope) well-crafted sign in their yard.
Which brings us to another gentle suggestion from Cottingham: a community wide sale held the same weekend every year.
For now though, we’d settle for higher standards from individual garage sale sign designers … and we wait patiently for city officials to take action on a new community posting place.