Now in its 12th year, and back by popular demand, the fall edition of the Sun City parking lot sale, to be held Sept. 21, draws more than 300 vendors, untold numbers of Sun City shoppers, and about 500 automobiles carrying nonresidents.
Nonresidents must pay $10 a car to enter Sun City on the day of the sale, to be held from 8 a.m. to noon, at Sun City Lane.
Shoppers from as far away as Georgia and Florida have attended the sale in previous years. News of the event is spread by word of mouth and advertising in local newspapers.
Traffic, which will be supervised by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office as well as Securitas, will be closed on Sun City Lane at Sun City and Del Webb boulevards, for the duration of the sale.
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Vendors may set up their tables, which measure 8 feet, and two chairs, from noon to midnight on Sept. 20. Only residents can apply for a set of chairs and table, at $20, beginning Aug. 1 through Sun City Hilton Head Community Association's Lifestyles Services, said Liza Chapman, assistant Lifestyle Services director. Jackie Bates is its director.
The Hilton Head Island nonprofit Second Helpings will sell hot dogs at the event; all proceeds from the sale go to the agency. Jack Frost Homemade Ice Cream in Bluffton will sell ice cream at the event In addition, the community association will sell soda, bottled water, coffee, donuts and pastries at Town Square.
Chapman said presenting the event is expensive - including paying the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office for both security and traffic control and for portable restrooms. The $10 a car entry fee for nonresidents helps defray some of the association's costs.
Sun City resident Carl Bolno has been participating in the spring and fall community sales for about seven years. The September event will mark the 14th time Bolno has set up a table. He said the most popular items at his table over the years have been his granddaughter's gently used clothing.
"I started doing the sales when my granddaughter was 6 and now she's 13. I send her the money from the sale of her clothes and she donates it to a charity for homeless animals in Pennsylvania,'' Bolno said.
Bolno tells other vendors that it's important to decide what you want more: to make money or get rid of your stuff.
"I make sure nobody walks away. I always give a senior citizen discount," he said.
Bolno's method of discounting items to sell eliminates the need for haggling. And while the extra money is nice, he said it's the camaraderie that brings him back each year.
"A lot of friends from Sun City stop by to chit chat; it's more about that than the sale,'' he said.
Typically, Chapman said, Lifestyle Services orders between 270 and 330 tables for vendors, based on the amount used from the previous year's sale. She said the spring sale draws slightly more vendors than the fall event.
Residents can order tables by contacting Lifestyle Services at 843-705-4027, Chapman said. The cut-off date for buying tables is Sept. 18, or until supplies are sold.
The parking lot sale was started 12 years ago to fill the void created when garage and yard sales "within the gates of Sun City" were banned, Chapman said.
"It's a way for people to clean out their garages,'' she said.
All vendors must sign a waiver that outlines rules and regulations for participating in the sale. These rules include prohibition of selling baked or cooked goods or commercial goods, such as golf supplies purchased at the pro shop to be resold at the event.
In addition to tables and chairs, 10 spots for the sale of golf carts or golf vehicles will be provided this year, Chapman said.
Security details maintain an orderly progression of vehicles, including early callers, so if traffic backs up at locations such as the Kings Creek approach, Chapman said, early callers are allowed to park. However, vendors are not open for business until 8 a.m.
The spring parking lot sale is scheduled for April.