Those unfamiliar with “linear sales” or “progressive sales” will have the opportunity to experience what is common in the Southwest in the form of the Bitterroot 50 Mile Garage Sale on Friday and Saturday, June 23-24.

Stretching along U.S. Highway 93 between Lolo and Darby, 250 businesses, vendors, hot spots and individual sellers will offer treasures of all kinds to those who enjoy searching for sought-after items as well as surprise purchases they did not know they were looking for. The sale was brought to the Bitterroot Valley two years ago by a group of antique business owners and others who wanted to showcase their merchandise and communities. A committee of volunteers still plans the event, working to organize the event in a way that will appeal to those who buy for themselves and those who purchase items for sale in their own businesses elsewhere in Montana or beyond.

This well-received, fun and well-organized event promises to be even better this year, as people who have planned it and are participating have worked to assemble a wide range of items to sell that should appeal to a wide variety of lookers and buyers. The third annual sale has now become a tradition and a highly anticipated event that benefits many businesses and individual sellers in the Bitterroot Valley. Businesses along the route have planned hot spots, and have invited vendors and sellers to join them on their property to sell items of interest. Other businesses will be inviting shoppers to sidewalk sales. Individual families who wish to have their own garage sale can participate and receive advertising, an official sign and a description of items for sale on the sale’s website.

Last year, 250 vendors and sellers participated, which made for a huge inventory of antiques, vintage and collectible items, and garage sale goods for buyers to choose from. People from 15 states and Canada attended the sale, and expectations for a similar level of participation by both buyers and sellers are high. The sale had a very significant economic impact on the Bitterroot Valley the past two years, as not only were there many treasures and bargains bought and sold, but hotels, gas stations, other businesses and restaurants were very busy providing services to those who attended.

A wide variety of items will be available, and because of the number of sellers participating, it is recommended that buyers plan their day or days at the sale. It is advisable to use the online map available at bitterroot50milegaragesale.com to plan your route. Bring bags, boxes, your money, a GPS and even a trailer to load up your purchases. It is also a good idea to bring your enthusiasm for searching for items you know you want, as well as for those you didn’t know you were looking for. A sense of discovery and community will help to make the days a regular event of your summer.

What is the best way to find your way around? Where should buyers start, and how should they plan to make the most of either one or two days of the event. Starting with the sale’s website, which is designed to provide shoppers with detailed information about sale locations and merchandise, will help shoppers plan. Starting on the website listing of hot spots and drilling down to examine what vendors associated with each hot spot have for sale is recommended.

Printing the map to use while driving north or south in the Bitterroot Valley will provide the information needed when choosing where to shop and for what items they are interested in. Those who have chosen to affiliate with the sale and who have paid to have their sales advertised will have an official orange Bitterroot 50 Mile Garage Sale sign to guide you to their locations. A detailed map will be available at bitterroot50milegaragesale.com and a copy of that map will be handed out at hot spots on the days of the sale. Although planning your time during the one to two days of the sale is a good idea, it is also fun to be guided by spontaneous discovery and the adventure of finding places and items you did not necessarily seek out.

Be prepared for a wide range of prices, as antique sellers will have quality, unique and valuable items for sale, and other sellers will have assembled items at traditional garage sale prices. Many of those who have been planning for this weekend have been collecting items during the past year, and have sought out items of value and interest. Remember that some buyers will be looking for items they can resale at their antique businesses outside of the valley and in other states. They will be aggressively seeking out items that match the interests of the customers in their areas, so remember the saying often found in antique shops that says “The item you were looking at yesterday was bought by someone today who knew who happy they would be tomorrow that they didn’t hesitate.” It is recommended that you not wait to purchase what you like, although organizers understand how much there will be to look at during the two days.

For those of you who like “the search” for treasures, consider how many weekends of garage sales and antique browsing would have to take place in order to equal the number of sellers and hot spots waiting for you to visit in just one weekend.

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