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Terri VanDyke of Fargo, carefully lays out children's clothing Friday as she prepares her booth for the 17th Annual Gigantic Rummage Sale, held last Saturday at Veteran's Memorial Arena in West Fargo. Tyler Shoberg / West Fargo Pioneer

Big sale, big deal

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Area residents, fed up with a seemingly endless winter, received a much-needed reprieve Saturday with some indoor bargain hunting.

The West Fargo Park District hosted its 17th annual spring Gigantic Rummage Sale at Veterans Memorial Arena, located at 1201 7th Ave E, attached to West Fargo High School. The climate-controlled expanse was the perfect venue for winter-weary shoppers eager to begin another garage-sale season.

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"It was a bit slushy, but we still had a good turnout," said Kim Wangler, Recreational Specialist for the Park District.

Even though outside conditions were less than ideal, Wangler said a sizable line of prospective shoppers wrapped its way around the block before the doors opened at 7 a.m.

"I don't think the line was as big as last year, but it still was pretty long," she said.

Those visitors arrived early in hopes of finding a deal among the more than 100 vendors ready and waiting inside. Wangler estimated the event drew well over 2,000 visitors, though she said final number would not be known until admissions were tallied. It was only $1 to get through the door, while children 17 and younger were let in free of charge.

The only downfall - if it can even be considered one - for shoppers may have been the sheer selection available; it was slightly overwhelming. Odds and ends of all sorts covered every available space of the more than 30,000-square-foot arena: antiques, bicycles, knick-knacks, clothes, toys, bird feeders, books, magazines, boxes, fitness equipment, even timely Easter baskets were available for perusing and purchasing.

Wangler, who has been with the West Fargo Park District for five years, said officials decided to open doors earlier than noon Friday, because of the weather, so vendors could begin readying their booths.

"It worked out well. We had some vendors come in early and set up, which alleviated congestion later in the day," she said.

By 1 p.m. Friday, Vets Arena was beginning to take shape. Terri VanDyke was carefully preparing her booth for Saturday's onslaught. In her second stint with the Gigantic Rummage Sale, the Fargo mother of two saw the event as a perfect place to purge her household of its

outgrown children's apparel.

"I wanted to get rid of a bunch of stuff," VanDyke said. "We have a lot of baby clothes."

She said what brought her back for a second year was a good experience during last year's Gigantic Rummage Sale.

"It really opened my eyes to how (rummage sales) should be," VanDyke said, noting the community-centered emphasis helped draw in sales, and made for a fun, inviting atmosphere.

Plus, the roof over everyone's head didn't hurt.

"It's nice not having to worry about wearing a jacket," she said.

While individuals and families may have been there to un-clutter their lives and possibly earn a few dollars, businesses and nonprofits also were on hand to peddle wares or promote causes.

Thank to the efforts of some its volunteers, Fargo-based 4 Luv of Dog Rescue also had a good handle on their booth by Friday afternoon during its third year utilizing the West Fargo Park District rummage sale. Volunteer Julie Merkel, who lives northwest of Harwood, N.D., said it's the publicity that keeps the nonprofit coming back year-in and year-out.

"We've been doing this twice a year for the past three years," Merkel said. "Sure, we make some money, but it's the exposure we like more than anything."

All of 4 Luv of Dog's items for sale were received from donations, Merkel said, and proceeds gleaned Saturday went straight to the organizations funding. Merkel said the rescue helps out all across the region, and works hard to find "loving, caring homes for its dogs." (For additional information, visit www.4luvofdog.org.)

The one-day multi-booth sale event drew quite a crowd Saturday, but it will not be the only chance for residents to see hundreds of garage sales in one location.

The West Fargo Park District will host its fall Gigantic Rummage Sale on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the same time and location, Wangler said. For more information, visit www.wfparks.org.

Wangler said the rummage sales are some of the biggest events of the year for the park district. Funding received from them helps pay for some park events, she said, but its focus is more on the community than trying to raise money.

"Any funding mostly supports supplies and costs for the rummage sale," she said.

The trio at 4 Luv of Dog Rescue certainly took advantage of the community-drive event. Merkel, along with Karen Schneider of Moorhead, and Corrie Gramfor of Fargo, pitched in to set up the rescue's booth. They said they didn't mind the work, but admitted it wasn't all just sweat and toil.

"It's fun watching all the people," Merkel said. Then she smiled: "but it's nice to look for deals, too."

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