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Deals galore on Morris St.

Commerce comes alive at annual yard sale

Paula Martin, left, and Gail Dupuis make change at the height of the Morris Street event. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
July 12, 2009


SOUTHBRIDGE — Morris Street may be a residential area, but it was a busy commercial zone Saturday as numerous households and lots of visitors participated in the annual Morris Street Yard Sale.

"We get to see all the retired people," said Paula Martin, referring to her retired colleagues. "It's nice. I do it more for the people, although the money's nice."

For the curious, a fair variety of things was available, most of them cheap. For the entire length of Morris and up several side streets, front lawns were studded with furniture, electronics, games, books and lots of clothing. Some of them also sold food, with soda, hot dogs and kebabs among the offerings.

Regarding the latter, Sally Benson said the neighbors came to an agreement years ago not to sell the same kinds of food to avoid that kind of competition.

"We've been doing this since the beginning of time," she said. " It's been pretty busy, but I don't think it's as busy as last year. It's a big event every year; all the families get together."

"Beginning of time" is a slight exaggeration, Paula Martin and Ann Tremblay noted; the sale's been a community effort for about two decades.

"Twenty or 22 years ago, I had a yard sale by myself, and it was boring," Tremblay (who works for this paper) said. "So I asked my neighbors to join me the next year, and it grew from there."

Martin said the four families around the corner of Morris and Maria — Tremblay, Martin, Merrill and Hwalek — were the founders.

"Every year when the nice weather starts, people ask me, 'When's the yard sale?'" Martin added.

It's been going on so long several people of the younger generation have been involved for years. Gail Dupuis, 13, even started advertising it on her Facebook and MySpace pages, and said she saw "a lot of my friends from Warren here already."

"People doing it have spread out a lot," she added. "There's more over there [pointing down Maria Avenue] than two years ago, and it's spread down Morris."

A lot of the expansion has been essentially accidental. Tremblay said she distributes fliers, but only about a quarter mile in either direction from her house.

"I don't actually go out of the neighborhood, but other people know and join in," she said.

Some of those joiners are nowhere near Morris Street. On Elm Street, for example, Robert Cournoyer opted to hold his own yard sale in part because of the Morris Street activity, although he noted he's held one there before.

"While they're doing it, there are more people out and about," he observed. "People have a lot of fun when they go through looking for bargains and they see something that reminds them of their childhood or hobbies."

One such person was Lynne Merceri, who wandered the various yards seeking old books, particularly poetry from the 19th and early 20th century. She noted such books were made differently and therefore tend to last longer.

"I used to bring my mother here every year until she died this year, so this is my first one without her," Merceri said. "Yard sales when I was younger weren't a big deal — they just put out junk, but now, with the economy, I think it helps people."

That idea got a mixed reception from other participants. Becky Bussiere said she was selling a lot of baby clothes, with some people buying bunches for Goodwill bags, but others said they felt the crowd size as a whole was down from last year.

To Cournoyer, the economic impact was neutral.

"I thought the economy would have something to do with it, but it seems to work both ways," he said. "Some people don't have the money to spend, but others who may not have looked for bargains before are now looking."

Gus Steeves can be reached at 508-909-4135 or by e-mail at gsteeves@stonebridgepress.com.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for more community news.

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