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Treasure hunters take heed

City-wide garage sales planned for coming weeks

It’s early April and Natalie Strater of St. Charles is having a garage sale. She’s got a 1970s-era Flash Gordon pinball machine she bought years ago for her husband’s birthday. Now, the kids are grown, they’ve sold the family home, and the empty-nesters are preparing to move down south. That pinball machine is pretty heavy. For the right price, Strateris ready to unload it.

Spring is traditionally the time our thoughts turn to cleaning out the house. For some local residents, that means selling the stuff they no longer want or need. Organizers with the cities of St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia all are gearing up to host community-wide garage sales, offering sellers the materials they need to promote their sales, and buyers the opportunity to hit a bunch of sales all in the same weekend.

The first community garage sale in the Tri-Cities will take place in St.Charles from 8am-4pm Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20. According to coordinator Darby Beasley of the St. Charles Park District, residents pay a participation fee of $30 to get started.

“The fee includes asign and a balloon, as well as your sale address, and items to be sold listed in the community garage sale tour guide, available for download before the event date,” said Beasley.

Participants get to keep all profits from their sales, and the registration fees go to support STC Underground, a teen center located in the lower level of the Baker Community Center. The free center, open to 6-12 graders in District 303, is a unique place for teens to hang out, socialize, play games and music, do homework and more.

“We had more than 120 garage sale homes last year and hope to beat that number this year,” said Beasley.

David Edwards will likely hit some of those sales. For a solid 10 years, he and his friend Tom Allen, both of St. Charles, have shopped more than 1,000 local garage and estate sales. “I look for things like vintage fountain pens, lamps, furniture and tools, and I just picked up an old Coca-Cola mirror,” said Edwards.

He’s come across some very interesting things.

“I bought a ceremonial sword from around 1890, made out of a real swordfish bill, and brought back by a missionary from South America,” he said.
He and Allen also have found some bizarre items.

“We bought a plastic bag of costume jewelry for a dollar, and discovered inside it a gold-capped human tooth." Edwards added.  

Geneva will hold its next community garage sale, from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. both Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27.

“This is the second year we’re doing the city-wide sale, and it brings the community together,” said Laura Rush, with the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
"This is prime garage sale season," she said. “People are getting out and cleaning their homes and their garages and finding they have a lot more stuff than they thought.”

“I think people are always looking for antique and vintage, those seem to be big drivers,” said Rush. “Anything having to do with tools and clothing, especially children’s clothing, always seems to do well.”
Residents who register for $30 online will have their addresses and key items listed on a map to be distributed to key locations in town, posted on the chamber website and available on the Garage Sale Rover mobile app. Participants also receive a sale sign to post near their homes, as well as all event marketing, advertising, printing and distribution of the materials by the chamber.

The Batavia City-Wide garage sale takes place on from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. each day, Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4.

Giving residents alot of “bang” for their bucks, 100 percent of the $30 garage sale registration fee will go to fund local fireworks displays.

“The Batavia fireworks are put on as a result of community donations,” said Doretta Holt of the Batavia Fireworks Committee.

“A large portion of our fireworks fund is raised from the city-wide garage sale,” she said. The Fireworks Committee will handle advertising and publicity, allowing participants to keep all their garage sale profits.

“We’re hoping to raise as much as possible through this event, since most people would be shocked to find out how much it costs to put on such a fabulous fireworks show,” said Holt.

With another weekend approaching, Edwards and Allen are busy planning their next garage sale outing.

“We meet some genuinely nice people at the sales,” said Edwards, “Coming across an unexpected treasure is pretty rewarding too.”

As for Natalie Strater, she did end up selling that pinball machine. The neighbor down the street bought it for his son’s 16th birthday.

To take part in any of the community-wide garage sales as a seller or a buyer:

In St. Charles: visit or call 630-513-4380

In Geneva: visit or or pick up a form at the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.

In Batavia: visit

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