Vermont’s biggest garage sale?

To say Wake Robin’s Red Tag Sale has grown by leaps and bounds over the 25-something years it’s been held is misleading. It has grown by monstrous vaults and gargantuan gambols.

It was promoted on social media as “one of the largest garage sales in Vermont.”

“One of”? It’s hard to imagine another garage sale that is even half as big. For one thing, the garage it is held in, under a building at Wake Robin, is massive, like Walmart massive.

Photo by Scooter MacMillan The line to get in the Wake Robin Red Tag Sale was at least a half-mile long.

And the line to get in went on for just short of forever. If you arrived 10 minutes before the 9 a.m. opening this past Saturday, you were parking at the guard booth, about half a mile away. (And by “you” I mean me.)

When I left after spending about an hour at the sale, cars were parked all the way to Bostwick Road and along that thoroughfare at least a quarter of a mile both east and west of the entrance to the senior living facility.

But people were still streaming in and finding a plethora of bargains remaining at the sale. There was an abundance of great deals on books, furniture, housewares, tools, china, glass, linens, jewelry, collectible, toys, games, baskets, lamps, art, electronics, sporting goods, frames, gardening stuff, bric-a-brac, holiday items and, believe it or not, more.

Sarah Meyers, one of coordinators of the sale, said the first year the Red Tag Sale was held the volunteers made $6,000. Although it was impossible to say how much they would make this year, last year they made $28,000, and this year was even bigger.

There were about 200 volunteers working on the sale, the other coordinator Judy Crouse said. Meyers said there were actually just 198 volunteers. (This newspaper appreciates accuracy.)

“We use the money in two ways. One is to pay for our activities for residents, and that’s about half of it. The other half is all the stuff that’s left over, that we give to charity,” Meyers said. “We also provide an outlet for less-fortunate families to come and shop.”

She said one sort of weird thing about the sale was “Barbie Bonanza,” tables filled with the pink figurines that have inspired years of play and a major hit movie. Someone had donated 200 Barbie dolls.

Ira White had come from Ferrisburgh. He’s an electrician and had a couple of extension cords draped over his arm he had scored at the sale.

Photo by Scooter MacMillan. Alison Crouse directs a documentary film about Wake Robin’s massive sale.

John Hammer, formerly of Charlotte and now of Wake Robin (and emeritus member of this newspaper’s board) was working the art table where they had sold a painting by a well-known African artist for $200. It sold quickly, he said.

Suzi LaRonde of Shelburne had found a painting of the Charlotte Town Beach that she liked.

Alison Crouse, an independent filmmaker from Philadelphia, had come from Pennsylvania with a crew of seven, counting herself, to film a documentary about Wake Robin’s sale. So, she had two three-person film crews, each with a camera and, as the director, she was running from camera to camera, coordinating things. Except when she was interrupted by a nosy reporter.

Crouse and her crew had been coming to Wake Robin from Philadelphia monthly since October to film as donations were collected. Her mother Judy Crouse was the other coordinator of the sale, and Alison had heard about the sale from her parents, who are residents.

“I’m interested, not just in the event of the tag sale, but what it means, what kind of meaning we put in objects, what it means to own objects, what it means to love objects, what it means to buy objects, and do we think about: Who used to own them? And when did they become ours?” Alison Crouse said.

There were lots of objects becoming possessions for Crouse and crew to film. Over the months, they had been able to film people bringing objects to donate. They had been able to film those same objects as they were bought and became someone else’s objects on Saturday.

“It’s really interesting to see what people are attracted to,” Crouse said.

She expects to produce a 20-minute film, which could become longer if she finds grants after showing the initial version of the documentary.

Crouse said they started filming at 6:45 a.m. There were already people in line then.

She had interviewed a group of people that only know each other because of the tag sale. “They come every year, and they eat breakfast at the garage door,” Crouse said. “Every year, that’s how they know each other.”