The Briar Patch Park Community Yard Sale has a new home. The monthly event, sponsored by the Sterling Community Center and held on the third Saturday of the month, was relocated in April to the centerÕs parking lot at 120 Enterprise St.
A hot, gray dawn broke over the Saturday, July 16 sale. As the first vendors set up their displays, folding tables slowly accumulated toys, clothing and household items in search of new homes. The beginning of the event seemed as inauspicious as the threatening weather; there were only three sites populated by sleepy sellers by the 7 a.m. start time, and only the mosquitoes were biting.
Stephanie Byers of Sterling was busy arranging some items on a low coffee table: a box of DVD covers, two matching laminators, a paper shredder.
ÒThis is the day after Thanksgiving,Ó she said, waving a hand at the unopened boxes. ÒThese are the rebate items.Ó She explained she and her husband, Krisztian Pall, had gotten them all free during holiday sales last year.
Also included in ByersÕ inventory was a large steel bird cage, about 2-and-a-half-feet tall. She explained that the cage was the former home of Snuggles, the coupleÕs yellow-napped Amazon parrot.
ÒShe outgrew her cage,Ó Byers explained.
She and Pall had arranged framed prints, a small barbecue grill Ñ complete with a bag of charcoal, and numerous other new-looking articles in what they hoped would be an enticing order.
ÒWeÕre pricing it to get rid of it,Ó she said. ÒWe donÕt want to bring it back.Ó
ByersÕ optimism was slightly tempered by the small number of patrons in evidence at the start of the event. Asked if she had attended the event in its previous location at Briar Patch Park in Sterling Park, she said that she had, and that as a result, she had been expecting a greater turnout.
ÒI was thinking it was bigger,Ó she said.
THE SALE usually has a better turnout, said Seth Pukatch, a facility supervisor for Loudoun County who was on duty to supervise the sale. He said that while there are generally around 15 vendors, there had been only six last Saturday.
PukatchÕs theories as to the cause for the lower participation included the likelihood of thunderstorms and the release that day of the latest Harry Potter novel. Asked why the event had been moved from Briar Patch Park, where it had enjoyed several yearsÕ success, he cited the need for the county to better supervise the popular event.
ÒI think it was mainly because trash was being left behind, but IÕm not sure,Ó he said, adding that the community center had the added benefit of an indoor facility where the sale could take place in inclement weather. ÒAlmost like an indoor flea market,Ó he said.
Pukatch noted that most sellers were reluctant to disclose the exact amount of money they made on a given Saturday. ÒItÕs like ÔI did well,Õ or ÔI didnÕt do so hot,ÕÓ he said. ÒBut thereÕs a lot of foot traffic. People probably do pretty well.
Becky Dufresne of Sterling echoed ByersÕ concern about low participation. Eyeing her own table laden with a menagerie of outgrown toys, she expressed dismay that there had been few shoppers so far. ÒThe toys are usually the first things to go,Ó she said.
ÒHopefully itÕll pick up,Ó she said as she watched a potential customer cautiously approach. ÒItÕs still early, right?Ó
Pointing at a box with a picture of a happy family enjoying a large inflatable pool, the woman asked whether it included a cover. Dufresne assured her that it did, and showed her the nearby box containing the cover.
ÒAre you selling just the pool?Ó
ÒWell,Ó Dufresne replied doubtfully, ÒIÕd kind of like to keep them together.Ó
Noting the $20 price tag on the box, she asked, ÒWill you sell it for 15?Ó
SCOTT AND ALLISON Moncrief of Sterling got a more rapid start to their selling day. After moving a motorcycle helmet and some other items, they had covered the $15 entry fee Ñ for nonresidents of Loudoun County the fee is $30. Their items for sale ranged in price from a $.25 pair of sneakers to a $75 HJC motorcycle helmet. ÒItÕs only been worn once,Ó Scott explained.
ÒItÕs only been 20 minutes and weÕve already made $40 or so,Ó Allison Moncrief said. Both coated in Avon Skin-So-Soft to ward off the ambitious bugs, the Moncriefs had the look of seasoned pros. They came equipped with a well-organized cash box, plenty of grocery bags for their customersÕ purchases, and tiny yellow pre-printed stickers denoting the price of nearly every item. Scott Moncrief is in the army Ñ currently stationed at Fort Myer Ñ and his career has made moving a constant in their life.
ÒWeÕve been married six years tomorrow, and weÕve had, what, six yard sales?Ó Allison Moncrief said. In the distance, a man was loading ByersÕ and PallÕs grill onto the bed of a black pickup.
By 10 a.m., the vendorsÕ fears about having to lug their wares back home Ñ or, at least in ByersÕ and PallÕs case to Goodwill Ñ seemed to have been at least partially allayed. Steady streams of shoppers continually arrived to browse the individual sites. Children test-drove toys and parents inspected childrenÕs clothing with a critical eye.
ÒHow much for the little stroller?Ó one woman asked the owner of a large mound of assorted childrenÕs clothes. Ignoring the $5 hand-written price tag, he said ÒOh, a dollar.Ó With a shrug he reconsidered. ÒFifty cents?Ó A couple of quarters clinked in his hand and a deal was struck.
Mabel Nieto looked over a life-sized statue of a colorful rooster standing amid sunflowers with some doubt until the seller pressed a button on the statueÕs bottom. An electronic crow resounded from the rooster, and $1.50 changed hands.
MANY OF THE shoppers expressed disappointment about the low number of vendors. ÒThereÕs only five,Ó said Dave Rematt of Sterling. ÒI bet there was 15 tables before.Ó K. Ahmad of Sterling also remembered the yard sales at Briar Patch Park with longing.
ÒThat place is a wonderful place,Ó Ahmad said. ÒIt was a perfect location. So many people in one place and so many things to find. ItÕs worth considering going back there.Ó