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Step inside David Dixon’s home, and not much seems out of the ordinary.
On the walls, surround-sound speakers pump out noise for the flat screen TV. On the porch, a stainless steel grill reflects the bright sun.
The only difference about these items found at Dixon’s Palm Coast home is they’ve all been purchased at garage sales.
Dixon, 46, has been a garage sale enthusiast since he was a young boy. His mother dragged him along to sift for treasures while he was growing up.
Back then, he said, it wasn’t a choice. Now, it’s a part of his lifestyle.
“I usually go to 10 or so garage sales and a few estate sales every week,” he said. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Being a handyman, about half of Dixon’s repertoire of tools has been purchased at garage sales and estate sales.
It’s a science, he said.
Most often, he will begin his day around 8 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. He finishes up around noon.
“I find out where the garage sales are going to be, I look and see what section each street is on and I put it in my GPS,” he said.
From there, it’s anyone’s guess as to what he’ll find.
He's got a Tabasco-brand iron skillet on the kitchen table. Most recently, he purchased a pair of military-issued Oakley sunglasses. Valued around $150 on eBay, he paid a whopping $2.
A Trek bike that hangs in his garage, valued around $300 online, cost him about $60.
And linens. Lots of linens.
“It’s an awesome way to get linens,” he said, adding that if there are any stains, he’ll pass. “I have a king-sized bed and sheets cost around $80; I get them for $10 at estate sales.”
But Dixon doesn’t go to garage sales without his main weapon: his cell phone, which is equipped with a barcode scanner. He’ll scan any item that has a barcode so he can compare the retail price with the garage sale price. This factors into his decision whether he should buy or pass.
One weekend about three weeks ago, Dixon bought an array of items totaling about $65. He sat down a few days later and valued each price on eBay. The total: $680.
Lately, he said, he has been keeping most of the things he buys. There are times when he collects too much, he said. And that’s when he will have a garage sale himself. Anything that he doesn’t sell at his two yearly garage sales, he brings to Goodwill for donation.
But Palm Coast’s garage sale industry could soon change if the City Council decides to enact new rules.
Requiring a permit?
According to city code, homeowners are restricted to two garage sales per year. At the July 24 City Council workshop, City Councilman Jason DeLorenzo said he has been getting complaints from residents stating some homes are having an excessive number. DeLorenzo has been told one house has had seven already this year.
“We don’t have a really strong mechanism for staff to know how many garage sales people are having,” DeLorenzo said. “They can become a nuisance.”
Although he wants government to take action, DeLorenzo said he’s not necessarily looking to enact stricter regulation. Instead, he’d like to see a permit process for garage sales.
This could prevent certain residents from using their “garages as a warehouse,” he said.
In a follow-up interview, DeLorenzo said enacting a permitting process will help code enforcement and also help residents advertise their garage sales.
The concept would be to have residents pay $10 or less for a permit. That would register them in a database that would be listed online. Then, people could search the city’s website for upcoming garage sales. It will also help code enforcement know where and when garage sales are taking place, DeLorenzo said.
“It will protect neighborhoods because you won’t have people really overdoing it and pushing the limit,” he said.
On Tuesday, other City Council members seemed in support of DeLorenzo’s idea.
“I think the idea is worthy of consideration,” City Councilman Bill McGuire said. “But we have to think it through.”
City: 525 signs per month
According to Barbara Grossman, code enforcement manager, the city picks up approximately 525 signs per month on the weekends (Friday through Sunday). Of those, 95% are garage sale signs, Grossman said.
According to the city, there are homes targeted in the F, P and B sections that have had excessive garage sales. Also, an estate sale liquidating firm is being watched.
Code enforcement is monitoring those homes because of complaints by neighbors, Grossman said.
But Dixon said the city spends too much time and taxpayers’ money on going around town and picking up the signs each day.
“If they are getting complaints that someone is doing it too much, then code enforcement should go out and deal with it,” he said. “I think signs should be allowed. (The city) doesn’t like the way it looks, and I understand that, but if you’re going to pay a guy my tax money to go around and pull the signs up, just let them go around on Sunday afternoon.”
Dixon, who has lived in Palm Coast for almost six years, understands that garage sales can become a nuisance and upset neighbors. But he still thinks things should remain the same.
“I like Palm Coast and the way they keep it clean and nice around here, but they are garage sales,” he said. “Garage saling is awesome. It’s fun, and I’ve met a lot of people in Palm Coast that way."
City Manager Jim Landon said Tuesday the city is “ready to move forward” with DeLorenzo’s plan.
“I hope they don’t start regulating garage sales,” Dixon said. “I can understand repeat offenders might need to be talked to, but for the regular guy like me who has two or three a year, I don’t want to have to go and get a permit.”
Fabulous Females raise funds with garage sales
After discovering that Flagler County’s inpatient hospice care center, the Stuart F. Meyer Hospice House, was not affiliated with a thrift shop, a local group of women, known as the Fabulous Females of Palm Coast, decided to turn “cleaning house” into a contribution.
The group hosted two garage sales and raised $850 for the Stuart F. Meyer Hospice House, which is located on Florida Hospital Flagler’s campus.
“I was so pleased when everyone supported the sale for the Stuart F. Meyer Hospice House,” said Mona McPherson, garage sale organizer. “The first sale was slow, but we hit it out of the ballpark with the second sale.”
McPherson went on to add how impressed she was with the outpouring of support from the community.
“There were those who didn’t even purchase, but still decided to make a donation to the cause,” she said. “We’re very proud to be able to present this money to our local hospice in support of the good work they do in our community.”
The Fabulous Females of Flagler are part of www.MeetUp.com, the world's largest network of local groups. The group was founded on friendship and fun, but has become a community of women giving back and wants to continue making an impact in the community.
Currently 1 Response
- Policing garage sales, in our current economy, with so many people unemployed is ridiculous and a waste of taxpayer's dollars. Devloping a weekly gararge sale listing via the City of Palm Coast Government will take revenue away from the Penny Saver. There are so many other serious problems in our community why would our city council even consider controlling garage sales. In addition to garage sales numerous thrift and consignment shops in our community depend on garage sale resellers for a large portion of their weekly sales. These stores pay sales tax on their sales. As you can see policing garage sales does have a snow ball effect with regard to other businesses (retail stores, estate sales companies, auctions, newspapers, worthwhile charities, etc.).
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