Garage sale? Not so

2013-07-31T19:00:00Z 2013-08-01T23:26:08Z Garage sale? Not soAnna Ortiz anna.ortiz@nwi.com nwitimes.com
July 31, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

Things begin to overflow out of the closet and suddenly bulging storage boxes are piling up.

It's time to clean house before the team from the A&E show "Hoarders" arrives with a camera crew.

According to a 2012 study, there are an estimated 165,000 garage sales a week in the nation.

Between buying neon poster board and setting up tables on the front lawn, there's something most region communities require for all garage sale hosts.

Many communities require residents fill out an application and obtain a permit from the municipality and there are limits to how many times and for how many days someone can hold a garage sale.

The restrictions may have some residents questioning why they have to have a permit to sell their belongings on their property.

Officials say it's to make sure a resident isn't running what amounts to a store without business permit.

Hammond's yard sale ordinance states, "Yard sales and garage sales, while beneficial on an occasional basis, do increase traffic, cause parking issues, noise and litter in residential areas."

City Attorney Kris Kantar said the consequences for violating the ordinance can be a $50 to $500 maximum fine, but she said there only has been one case where someone was ticketed. Citations for violating the ordinance are rare.

Kantar said the city doesn't actively patrol for garage sale violators; the citations are complaint-driven.

"We aren't trying to frighten the elderly with this," Kantar said.

Kantar said the garage sale ordinance was passed in 2011 and helps track crime by keeping records of names and addresses of sales.

"There were people selling things that weren't theirs," Kantar said. "This helps stop people from stealing someone's lawn mower and trying to sell it in a garage sale later."

To get a permit, a resident must fill out an application and give it to the Board of Works office in Hammond City Hall. The board approves the sale, and the resident is sent a permit.

Rachel Hillegonds, of Dyer, held a garage sale with relatives to get rid of extra belongings.

"We're cleaning out our homes, getting rid of things the kids have outgrown," Hillegonds said. "We're just straightening our lives up."

Dyer doesn't require any permits, but a year and a half ago, Hillegonds lived in Lansing, where residents were required to pay for a permit.

"Here I think here you're more free to have a garage sale whenever you want. It's more flexible," Hillegonds said.

Nancy Zikovich had a garage sale at her home in St. John. Zikovich plans to use some of the cash to help her daughter as she begins her freshman year of college in August.

Zikovich said it took two weeks to prepare for the garage sale.

"It's nice to have extra cash. You've got to make money somehow," Zikovich said. "The extra few hundred helps, but it's a lot of work."

St. John has a fee of $5 per permit, which is good for two days.

"I think it's not fair to the homeowner for it to cost them to have a garage sale," Zikovich said.

Brian Mabry, of unincorporated Dyer, sells things mainly at online sites like eBay, his online selling hub "Thrift Shop," or at a flea market but occasionally has a garage sale.

Mabry buys anything from tools, neon signs, tiki masks, giant inflatable beer cans and bottles, antiques, tin signs and other items and sells them.

Mabry said through his sales he gained about $30,000 last year.

"You see more people having garage sales than you did two or three years ago because there's a lot of people out of work," Mabry said.

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