It was hard to say what was hotter Saturday -- the deals or the weather -- at downtown Owen Sound's annual Hottest Yard Sale Under The Sun.
Crowds strolled along 2nd Ave. E. to check out the deals both inside and outside the stores as the temperature hit 30 degrees. But shopping was only a part of it. There was live music all day long, games and entertainment for kids, food booths, emergency services demonstrations and non-profit groups with displays and demonstrations as well.
The shopping is what attracts Doris Kalbfleisch of Shallow Lake each year. She said she always hits her favourite store first ñ The Rocking Horse ñ but she also picked up some T-shirts for $1 Saturday at Garb and Gear Source for Sports.
“I would say it's mainly the deals (that bring me here), and it's much easier to see what the stores have when you can just walk down the street,” she said, her hands full of shopping bags.
Phoenix Books was offering tables of books outside; buyers could fill a bag for a buck. Inside there were deals too, like three romance books for $1.50.
“It’s one of our busiest days of the year,” said proprietor Bea Miller. “Anything that attracts people downtown, then it's up to each store to do what it can to make a sale. This is the one event they (DIA) should never let go of.”
Saturday's was the 25th hottest yard sale, which is organized by the Downtown Improvement Area.
“It’s been a venue that's self-generated itself over the years,” said DIA chair Rodney Rodger. “It brings thousands of people downtown. The positive word of mouth works to our favour, and every year it gets bigger and better.”
The event also showcases the downtown, he noted. “It’s a great opportunity not only for the merchants, but to showcase the downtown. I've always said if it's good for downtown, it's good for Owen Sound, so it's just a great opportunity to bring people into the city.”
The event typically brings in 3,000 to 5,000 people, and four downtown blocks are completely closed off.
The downtown is experiencing a mini boom right now, according to DIA administrator Carolyn Bigley, who said there are fewer vacant storefronts now than there have been in years. In fact it was a challenge, she said, to find enough empty places this year to put the non-proft groups and other non-members.
“The less vacant storefronts we have, means we have fewer places to put non-members. It was a challenge . . .but that's a very good thing,” she said.
As for Saturday's weather, it held up its end of the bargain. Rodger said the event has never been totally rained out, and that Saturday's heat and sunshine only added to the hottest yard sale moniker.
“Absolutely it's a play on words . . . it's both hot deals plus hot weather. It's July, it's the middle of summer.”