WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | Clad in a black suit, cowboy hat, bolo tie and snakeskin boots, Steven Bloom hunched intently over a bin of CDs Saturday morning, flipping through them in search of any good rockabilly or vintage country records.
The man in black said he has found some good albums from The Cramps and Dwight Yoakam at The Times Ultimate Indoor Garage Sale in previous years. On Saturday, Bloom scored a haul of bolo ties and cufflinks but came up empty after clicking through several rows of CDs.
The Valparaiso resident said he has gone to the massive garage sale at the Porter County Expo Center for the last few years.
Bloom was one of an estimated 4,000 visitors who flocked to the popular annual event. People started lining up outside at about 7 a.m., and the line stretched across the side of the building by the time the doors opened at 8:30.
Villa Park, Ill., resident Jim Kristula, who has been selling gemstone and crystal jewelry on the weekend flea market circuit for 42 years, said The Times Ultimate Indoor Garage Sale is one of the most heavily attended shows he visits.
Kristula, who has cut back on vending jewelry to about 60 days a year so he can spend more time with his grandchildren, grabs customers' eyes by selling a wide assortment of sparkly necklaces and bracelets for $5.
"With the economy being bad, if you sell your goods for $5 and under, you're in good shape because where people used to think nothing of spending $30, $40 on an item, now they think twice," he said.
Crowds pack the garage sale because people know they can find a good deal, said Kevin Raines, the owner of The Sheet People, a Merrillville-based retailer of Egyptian bed sheets. He regularly hawks his linens at consumer shows, such as boat and car shows, and said he always does a brisk business at The Times Ultimate Indoor Garage Sale.
Ed and Jo Trapp, of Hebron, came in search of glass and old toys. They said they visit as many as eight to 10 garage sales a weekend and have been coming to The Times Ultimate Indoor Garage Sale for the last four years. Ed Trapp said always has to make at least two trips to the car to load up purchases.
Whiting resident Peggy Boyle expected to bring in about $500 to $800 in sales of children's clothes when the day was done. She spent weeks preparing her wares, which were gathered from garage sales, flea markets and department stores over the course of the year.
"It's my hobby. It's a good hobby," she said. "I lost my husband a year and a half ago, and I'm afraid to stop."