WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | It was only one hour into The Times Ultimate Indoor Garage Sale on Saturday morning, but Marlynne Ditchcreek already had two shopping bags in one hand and a backpack in the other filled with books, glassware and collectibles.
"Me and my friend bring two sets of car keys in case one of us has to take stuff back to the house," she said.
Ditchcreek was among the first of thousands that swooped into the Porter County Expo Center for the Ultimate Garage Sale, now in its sixth year. The event had 200 vendor booths from which to choose and perks — including the 2013 Chevy Malibu Sweepstakes sponsored by Northwest Indiana Chevrolet dealers and The Times Media Co.
Just four booths down from where Ditchcreek was shopping, vendor Launie Wolford said it was easy to see what drives shoppers and vendors to events like the Ultimate Garage Sale.
"We all collect stuff," she said. "We all have a passion for it."
Behind her were 112 Barbie dolls, each in their original box and ranging in price from $5 to $179. That last was the price tag on the Grace Kelly Barbie, replete in a flowing white wedding gown.
Also arranged on the shelves behind her were Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Barbie, Blond Ambition Barbie, Jazz Baby Barbie, Ladies of the 80s Barbie, Star Trek Barbie and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Barbie, among others.
"When I was growing up, my mom thought Barbie was too risque, so I couldn't have one," Wolford said. "Now we have about 1,000."
Garage sale ads remain a staple of The Times classified section, and the Ultimate Garage Sale is just a fun extension of that, said Deb Anselm, Times Media Co. Valparaiso general manager.
"People are always looking to buy and sell things, and we offer just a great place to do that," Anselm said.
Lacey Swick was among the hundreds who purchased VIP tickets to get into the event an hour early. She had just picked up "a bit of eye shadow" at Wolford's Barbie booth and was off to look at others.
"I just look for any kind of bargains I can find," she said. "Mostly old stuff. But stuff like this eye shadow, too."