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Visitors, locals scour Ocracoke for treasures at Island-Wide Yard Sale

Karen Perez shows clothing during the Island-Wide Yard Sale on Ocracoke on Saturday, April 13. Photo by Rita Thiel

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By Rita Thiel

Saturday’s forecasted rains didn’t deter yard sale fans from coming to Ocracoke for the first spring Island-Wide Yard Sale.

Folks from near and far traipsed the streets and lanes; golf cart caravans laden with eager searchers scooted from one spot to another, and cars slowly traversed the village with a common goal in mind: find that special treasure.

Trudy Austin, a clerk in the Ocracoke Variety Store, noted many visitors on Saturday remarked they had come to the island especially for the sale.

A rusty old lighthouse was a special find for Cindy Allen and her group from Carteret County, who came specifically for the yard sale. They hadn’t been looking for anything in particular, Allen said, but when she found the lighthouse, she knew that was her “treasure.”

Sam Walters, son of Jessica Caldwell and husband, Jeffrey Walters, was overjoyed at the treasure he’d found at Debbie Leonard and Karen Perez’s tables: a VHS movie of “Christmas Vacation.” Filled with excitement, Sam clutched the tape as he explained about the “electric Santa” on the tape jacket. He and his twin sister, Cora, are in Ocracoke’s Pre-K class.

Tim Huff, keeping an eye on the weather, set up a bit before the 8 a.m. start of the sale. He had customers right away. “Funny, at eight o’clock in the morning, people wanted fishing gear,” Huff said. “I sold a lot of fishing gear.”

The yard sale gave a much-needed respite to Dee and Kent Knore, from Columbia, Washington County.

Dee and Kent Knore of Columbia peruse fishing gear. Photo by Rita Thiel

“It’s been a tough two years,” Dee said. “We knew we needed a break and picked this event to come to this weekend.”

As for a special find, Dee found a wooden beaded door curtain that she knew she had to have. Kent discovered a fishing weight made out of a rock at Huff’s place–a unique item that went home with them.   

Cate Kozak, a freelance journalist from Nags Head, and her friend, Mary Ellen Riddle, the education coordinator for the Graveyard of the Atlantic, visited the island specifically to hunt for treasures.

“I’m an avowed garage-saler,” Kozak said, adding that she thinks they got to every sale on the map, although some were packing up when they arrived.

“Because we had the map, we drove on all these roads we’d never been on,” she said. “It was a cool way to see the island.  And everyone had good prices.”

Even though it is the start of the season (at Easter), a spot check of a few island lodging owners showed an increase in business due to the yard sale.

“We had at least two customers who specifically referenced the yard sale,” said Bert Clark of Edwards of Ocracoke.

Melinda Esham of the Pony Island Motel also noted more room rentals as did Sherry Atkinson, manager at Blackbeard’s Lodge, who said the motel had a few groups of women attending for the sale.

“Two groups wanted to make reservations for next year,” she said. “It was a nice weekend.”

Mary Lane and Dick Wilson of Winter Harbor, Maine, traveled from their camping vacation in Frisco to Ocracoke for the day, unaware it was yard-sale day.  

Not new to Ocracoke, the 26-year Outer Banks visitors were making their first yard sale stop of the day, but, since they were traveling, didn’t plan to buy much.

“As you can see, the back of our van is packed already,” Dick said.

OCBA Executive Director Helena Stevens was happy that the weather did an about face.  A majority of yard-sale goers she talked to came to the island specifically for the sale.

“Visitors had fun going to the sales and exploring the island,” she said. “It was great.”

The next Island-Wide Yard Sale this year will be Saturday, Sept. 21.

Connie Leinbach contributed to this story.

Customers check out wares from Jennifer Wilson, left. Photo by Rita Thiel

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