St. Peter Barn Sale veterans share tips, strategies

  • Elburn resident Peter Geraci, left, tries out a recliner as Chris Hanner of Elburn looks on Saturday at the 2007 St. Peter Barn Sale at the Kane County Fargrounds in St. Charles. This year's sale takes place Saturday and Sunday.

    Elburn resident Peter Geraci, left, tries out a recliner as Chris Hanner of Elburn looks on Saturday at the 2007 St. Peter Barn Sale at the Kane County Fargrounds in St. Charles. This year's sale takes place Saturday and Sunday. Daily Herald file photo

  • Peter Larson, 11 of Aurora carries an artificial poinsettia at the 2007 St. Peter Barn Sale at the Kane County Fargrounds in St. Charles.

    Peter Larson, 11 of Aurora carries an artificial poinsettia at the 2007 St. Peter Barn Sale at the Kane County Fargrounds in St. Charles. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Published9/17/2009 12:01 AM

Want to know how to bag your quarry at the upcoming St. Peter's Barn Sale?

In a word, prioritize.

 

That was the tip offered from several veterans, both shoppers and volunteers, of past sales.

"Go for things that there aren't a lot of," one volunteer said. "If you need a sofa, well, you better go there first, because there probably aren't that many that match all your specifications.

"We have tons of jeans. Do those later."

The enormous garage sale that is the Barn Sale opens at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, at Randall Road and Route 38.

And "enormous" just got bigger, as organizers say this will be the largest Barn Sale in history. The sale features more than 90,000 square feet of available stuff, including more than 25,000 items of clothing, 150-plus refurbished bikes, appliances, furniture, accessories, toys, home decorating items, baby furnishings and much, much more. All items previously were owned by someone else, and all are heavily discounted.

The sale can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you not only survive, but also thrive and get the goods you want.

Prioritize: "Decide what area you're going to start in, because at 9 o'clock when we open the doors, the rush is on," said Frank Woodin, who with his wife Kathy is co-chair of this year's sale, along with Miguel and Luanne Mayorga. "Get what you want most, first."

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Woodin further delineated furniture-shopping strategy.

Be specific: "Narrow it down even more," he urged. "Do you want an armchair, or a sofa? Depending on what you want, that's where you go first."

Map it out: Know where you want to go. Woodin said a map with each selling area clearly marked was in the works early in the week and was to be posted on the Web site before the sale. (See stpeterbarnsale.com.) Maps also will be distributed at the sale, and foot-tall signs on the buildings also identify the various wares to be found within.

What if you want more than one thing? Well, while it obviously depends on what exactly you're looking for, good furniture goes quickly.

"Tools and electronics are another good spot to hit first," offered another sale veteran. Maybe you run a day care and want toys? Go there first.

Dress for success: Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.

Get there early: The parking lot - and there's ample parking for all, Woodin said - opens at 5 a.m., and the gates open at 7 a.m. A hot country breakfast will be available for purchase, perfect for getting ready for the sale rigors ahead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Obviously, if you're on site before opening bell, you'll be in a better position to snag that coveted lawn mower, working television set or blue floral love seat.

"If you really have something specific in mind, get there early, enjoy the breakfast and then do some shopping," Woodin said.

Bring a friend: "That way," a friend of mine said, "one person can stand in line at the holding pen, and you can stash whatever you've already gotten with her, then you can go and do more shopping for things you really want."

There will be plenty of things, too. The most popular sale items are electronics, furniture and clothing, Woodin said. All electronics have been checked over.

"If they didn't operate, we got rid of them," he said.

I'd add these tips:

Be realistic: Chances are you're not going to find a fur coat for $10 or a sofa and matching love seat for $20. But you may find perfectly serviceable furniture, working electronics, a bike that will be "new" to your child, or something else that you want and can use, at a fraction of the price of buying new.

A few years ago, my daughter and I were at the sale in the afternoon, long after the early-morning frenzy. She found a French Provincial dressing table she could use as a desk for her room. We even found a matching chair in the "chairs pen." The desk was used, it was still there at 2 in the afternoon, but it was still - and remains, though she's away at school for much of the year now - perfect.

Be creative: A find needn't be spectacular to be useful. The Barn Sale serves so many needs. Plenty of people find their wardrobes among the clothing racks, for example. But also among those racks are all kinds of items that could help an enterprising parent or grandparent create the dress-up bin of your children's dreams, one worthy of a theatrical company (I know. I've done it).

For that matter, we were looking for a desk two years ago, not a dressing table - but this works better than what we had in mind to start.

You can pick up items that work in a dorm room, first apartment or second home. The Barn Sale showcases the saying, "one man's castoffs are another man's treasures.

And if nothing else, it's fun to browse, even if you come away with an empty shopping bag.

Get ready to shop. The forecast - "I check every day," said Woodin with a laugh - is for clear skies.

And don't forget the recommendation to wear practical, comfortable shoes. You'll be thankful later on.

If you go

What: St. Peter Catholic Church's annual barn sale

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20

Where: Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles

Hungry? A country breakfast will be served at 7 a.m. both days, and the Taste of Geneva will offer food for purchase during sale hours. At 5 or 6 p.m. Friday, the Harvest Moon barbecue and auction offers a buffet dinner and early admission to the sale for $60-$100.

Admission: Free on Saturday and Sunday

Info: stpeterbarnsale.com or (630) 845-0273

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