Lions go online: garage sale gems just a click away

— Created June 24, 2020 by Kathy Reed

By Kacie Jo Voeller

This year, bargain hunters can look for deals from the Coupeville Lions Garage Sale all summer long. The sale, which has moved online for 2020, will feature items from appliances to furniture and more, available through the Facebook group Coupeville Lions Garage Sale and via the organization’s website,  

Brian Pulk, the Coupeville Lions Club’s current president and chairperson for the sale, said the group would have liked to continue having the sale as normal. However, the best option was to instead move the sale online due to concerns surrounding having a large event as the world continues to face COVID-19, he said.

“I think maybe the positive of it is, it gave us the chance to be innovative and come up with a new way of doing things that challenged our intellect, in a way,” he said.

Pulk said the sale, which has been happening for over four decades, has become a beloved annual event in Coupeville and beyond. The event also helps the club to raise money for various community initiatives and projects.

“For one thing, it (the sale) is a tradition in Coupeville and everybody in Coupeville and all over the island and beyond the island knows about the garage sale,” he said. “So it is a tradition that we wanted to continue. It is one of our major sources of funding for all of the nonprofits we support throughout the year.”

Pulk said the club will miss having its normal crowd of shoppers at Coupeville Elementary School, but is happy going online has allowed them to continue the event.

“The garage sale is an exciting event,” he said. “People line up to get something and then the horn goes off and people rush to things they want to buy and it is quite a sight. We are very disappointed to have to miss that and we will be back next year, but the main thing that we wanted to accomplish this year was to continue the tradition of the garage sale.”

In addition to the garage sale items, which will be posted regularly to the Facebook page, the group will also be putting on a plant sale. The plant sale is expected to be shorter than the garage sale, depending on how quickly items are sold, he said.

“We have several hundred plants that will be for sale and they are all listed on the website,” he said.

Pulk said the sale allows people to make donations that can then find new life with a new buyer.

“It is a service to the community just to be able to pick things up that people do not want that other people would want to buy,” he said.

David Fish, a past Coupeville Lions Club president who manages the logistics of the sale, said in addition to taking donations, the sale also raises funds to support community projects, including the Boys and Girls Club, sight and hearing testing in schools, and more. The club has over 20 service projects and raises funds for more than 30 organizations in the community.

            “For me, and I think the others would agree, one of the key things is to be able to meet the need to make this stuff available to bargain hunters that we serve every year,” he said. “It is also clearing space so we can take more donations and of course, to make some money to serve our projects that we have in the area. Those three things probably have about equal importance.”

 Fish said safety has been a key consideration in moving the sale online for the year. Fish said each week, buyers who purchase an item by Wednesday will then set up a time to pick up their find on Saturday. For those who make a purchase later in the week, items will be available on the Saturday of the following week.

“We are very conscious about social distancing and we are scheduling pickups on Saturdays at Coupeville Elementary School,” he said. “So when somebody buys something, they let me know and we will load it up on Saturday and take it over to the elementary school, and they will pick it up and pay for it there.”

Fish, who has been managing the garage sale’s Facebook page, said the sale has already garnered a large amount of interest online. The Facebook group has nearly 700 members currently. As items sell, more will be added to the page, he said.

“After I posted the first batch (of items), primarily appliances, my Facebook feed exploded,” he said. “There was so much interest out there and I had a whole bunch of sales within 24 hours. And in the last week we have doubled the number of followers to our Marketplace group.”

            While the sale has seen success online, FIsh said the group looks forward to planning a more traditional sale next year.

“Certainly the disadvantage (of an online sale) is we are not going to be able to post a lot of the small stuff and certainly our customers are not going to be able to walk through and have those impulse buys,” he said.

Fish said for those who are not on Facebook, the club has provided other shopping options.

            “We are putting stuff on Facebook but we are also putting some stuff on our webpage,” he said. “So Facebook is not our only outlet. Not everybody is a Facebook user, so we are making some things available for the non-Facebook users.”

Fish said the Coupeville Lions Club provides a place for community members to come together and make a difference in the local area and beyond with a combination of traditional and new methods.

“The opportunity to serve is important to me, to give back to the community,” he said. “And I kind of enjoy being the Lions instigator. I am pretty good about coming up with new ideas and new ways to do things.”