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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Spring sale spree in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Pots and plants

It was a Saturday for the garage sale history books in Niagara-on-the-Lake last weekend, as easing of pandemic rules allowed several markets to set up all over town and compete for attention.

And with the sunny weekend weather, all of them were getting it.

At the Virgil arena, dozens of people lined up to get the first picks at the NOTL Horticultural Society's plant sale, which offered up prime pickings from the gardens of members and tool sharpening.

Cindy Grant, co-chair of the Horticultural Society, said some people knew exactly what they were looking for. One person she talked to had sought out and purchased his desired plant in about three minutes.

“They know what they want, they come in and they grab it, and they're gone,” Grant says as people shuffle in.

Most of the perennial plants are donated, but they do buy some of the non-perennials at wholesale cost from local growers.

Sandra Bott, a co-ordinator of the sale, said there were well over 1,000 plants there when it started. In less than half an hour from opening, the outdoor space and a room inside the arena were starting to empty out.

Bott didn't seem shocked to see the frenzy.

“People know this sale. They've missed it for the last three years,” she said, echoing Grant's sentiment that people tend to show up knowing there's going to be some good selection.

“And it's not just hostas and shasta daisies,” she said.

She said another draw is that members are around to help give advice on planting.

“We have people here who are so knowledgeable. They'll tell you whether it's a shade or a sun plant, or (if it will) spread, or how tall it'll grow.”

Bott said it was “really nice to see so many gardeners out.”

“And this is the year of the garden. This is the year that people are glad to be out and working in their gardens.”

The sale is a fundraiser for the Horticultural Society, which uses the funds for various good deeds around town. Recently the organization gave $5,000 toward a new community garden on Niven Road, to bring a waterline across the road to the garden.


A GIGANTIC garage sale

Around the corner at Cornerstone Community Church, another line wrapped around the building as eager bargain hunters waited to get the first pickings at the NOTL Rotary Club's “Gigantic” Garage Sale.

The sale took up several rooms inside the church as well as several tents and storage containers outside the church.

People were leaving with arms full of goodies, anything from furniture and houseware items to toys and sports equipment.

Greg Fedoryn, president of the NOTL Rotary Club, was at the door helping people purchase their items.

He said an hour into the sale, plus the preview night on Friday, there had already been hundreds of people through.

There was so much stuff and so many people, they had to start limiting the number that could go in at once, he said.

“We started putting this together in February. So there was an awful lot of stuff that people were extremely generous in providing us with all the stuff we have,” he said.

“We had to get more storage. We didn't have enough room to store everything we had. We just had to keep adding storage lockers and facilities because people were so generous.”

Fedoryn said the next big Rotary event is Canada Day and they plan to be back in Simcoe Park for the celebrations once again.


A neighbourhood thing

Down in Old Town in the “Chautauqua X” area of Orchard Drive, neighbours all came together to turn the street into a bizarre, with people holding individual garage sales.

The event was organized by Liz Sauter, who wanted to do something special, while also raising money to help purchase a new pony for a young girl at Red Ribbon Stables after the pony escaped and was hit by a car.

“There is a little girl who rode him for the Niagara Cup and for the Trillium. She's devastated. So we thought, what can we do to make it a little bit easier and buy a new pony and help her out?” Sauter said.

“So I decided that since we were going to have a garage sale for the street, that all the funds that I raised (would go toward a new pony).”

Sauter was also selling raffle tickets for some prizes to help boost the fundraiser. Prizes included a package from Wayne Gretzky Estates and Swarovski earrings.

She said she's already raised $3,000 for the pony, and was hoping she'd raise another couple of thousand during the sale. A new pony can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000, she said, depending on factors like breed and availability.

They're hard to find and have to be trained. “You have to be able to jump them, you have to be able to make sure they're disciplined, that they can carry the different kids that get on in the different levels,” she said.

“They're not cheap.”

Shelagh Wallace was outside selling items for 25 cents each. She said she'd already had a few customers before the sale was slated to start.

“(I've sold) a bunch of stuff actually. Sold a lot of storms and screens that we've had in the house — actually just giving them away — to a young couple down on Lakeshore Road who are starting a farm,” she said.

She said it was a nice way for people to connect.

“It's been lovely. People are so friendly and happy to have a nice warm day,” she said.

“It just feels nice to be out and talking to people and seeing everybody walking around.”


Lionesses bring the boutique

In St. Davids, the Lioness Lions were hosting a sale with more than 40 vendors selling all sorts of handmade and gourmet items from hot sauces to wooden carvings.

Melissa Pullia had layered wood animals she makes using a home laser engraver.

“They're about seven to eight layers each, different types of material. We have cherry, maple, mahogany hickory, I cut them all individually and then I glue them together and this is how my business started,” she said.

She's been making her wood creations for about three years, and this was her first time at a NOTL market.

“It's a beautiful place. Customers are amazing here. Everybody is so friendly,” she said.

She echoed the theme of spring sale day: It's just nice to be out in the sun, with people.

Jo-Anne Brytwak, president of the newly renamed Lioness Lions, said it was an “excellent turnout” for the first time holding the event outside.

“It's an experiment we tried. It's turned out perfect. Everybody's loved it, the vendors are having a good time, people coming out have been buying tickets for even the Lions trailer. So it's been so far a total success,” she said.

The market is a fundraiser for the Lionesses, who support various community causes, with most of it going to Guide Dogs.

Diane Pewer, a 10-year Lioness who helps organize the spring market, credited the whole planning committee with making it a success, as well as her daughter, who did individual marketing for each vendor leading up to the event.

She said the most important part is the fundraising.

“We've been out of fundraising for two years. And this was an important event to have,” she said.

“We weren't sure how it was going to go. It was a definite challenge. But as you can see, we have we have a lot of vendors and a lot of different types of people that make products and we're happy to get them out, they're happy to be here.”

She too echoed the theme of the day.

“(It's) good to see people out and not afraid to go out,” she said.

She noted they got lucky with the weather, as it had been predicted to rain Saturday.

Pewer said the Lioness Lions are looking for new members, and encourages anyone from NOTL who is interested to get involved.

“If you want to become a member, come out and join us at one of our meetings and just see if you want to be part of our group and volunteer to help people that need help.”

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