MANNINGTON — Like everything else in 2020, Mannington’s annual yard sale, which had become a traditional spring-cleaning event, was postponed until later this year because of COVID-19 concerns.
Saturday, under the clear-blue skies of Labor Day weekend with temperatures in the high 70s, later finally arrived and area residents turned out buy, sell and barter at dozens of makeshift thrift shops scattered around the city.
The Mannington Community Yard Sale was back in business.
According to the popular garage sale blog Making Lemonade, the time-tested top-selling yard sale items are nearly always, in descending order, lawn equipment and tools, kids’ toys, outdoor furniture, costume jewelry, children’s clothing and name brand clothing.
But this year in Mannington, one category not featured on the list above was selling far and away above all others — anything having to do with the re-election of President Donald J. Trump.
“The Trump flags are easily the best-selling items here today,” said George Owens. “They’re the biggest sellers by far.”
Trump hats, shirts, and, somewhat ironically, face masks were also hot commodities.
Owens operates Alley Ann’s, a novelty and consignment shop. He had traveled from his home in Lumberport on Friday to set up three large tents alongside Route 250 coming into town. After claiming a prime spot, Owens spent the night along the road and opened early Saturday morning.
“I like yard sales because you get to meet interesting people. Everyone I’ve met here in Mannington is nice and friendly and we’ve had perfect yard sale weather,” he said.
Jay‘s Novelties owner Jay Earnest Nestor might have had the most enviable arrangement of any makeshift thrift shop. Nestor’s marketplace in the Walgreens parking lot featured a large, flat-screen TV playing the Eastern Kentucky at Marshall football game. (Marshall won 59-0. The TV was not for sale.)
Nestor is a Mannington yard sale veteran and his display included an impressive collection of guns, knives, and assorted bric-a-brac. But one item in particular was flying off the shelves.
“Trump merchandise is definitely the most popular of anything we’ve got here,” Nestor said. “People are buying Trump shirts, hats and facemasks. Trump flags, too, are very popular.”
Nestor said if someone’s castoffs are another’s fantastic finds, the community yard sale is an invitation to pan for gold.
“Yard sales are fun in general, but this year they seem to attract even more people. With coronavirus, people see us as being out in the open air with plenty of space to keep their distance,” he said. “It’s a great way to meet people, share a few stories and make some money.”
Tracy Martin, of Mannington, is a veteran participant in the town’s yard sale. Her wares were displayed beneath an awning at North Pointe Plaza.
“Today is probably a better day to have the yard sale than we would’ve had in the spring,” she said. “In the springtime, it’s rained on us before, but today’s weather is perfect and the crowds are large.”
Martin, too, said she felt people are simply looking for something different to do.
“I think people are happy to get out and about. People are social distancing and wearing their masks. It’s been all good,” Martin said.
Lacey Griffin is a Fairmont resident who grew up in Mannington. Her booth was set up in the former Gator Bowl parking lot.
“I’m here because I wanted to get rid of a few things,” she said. “We’ve sold lots of stuff here today, especially early on. Our top seller today is junk. We had a lot to get rid of, and we’re doing that. We’ve been waiting for today. It’s always nice to clean out a little bit, to leave here with less than you brought.”
Griffin offers the yard sale novice some sage advice.
“The prices get better as the day goes on,” she said. ‘By the time we’re ready to leave today, everything will be marked down to one dollar.”
Joseph Austin, of Masontown, set up in the Walgreens parking lot early Saturday morning to try to sell his specialty items, which are old radios, turntables and electronic devices.
“I’ve sold several old radios and some older model baby dolls,” Austin said. “Knick-knacks and silverware are always pretty popular and, of course, toys. Toys always seem to sell well here.”
Charlotte McCoy lives in southern Ohio, but was in Mannington on Saturday visiting her brother.
“I decided to come out and browse a little. I’ve got a new grandbaby on the way, so I’m out here at the sales just looking around,” said McCoy.
McCoy said she is a yard sale aficionado because she likes “to get good products cheap.”
“Everyone loves a good deal. That’s why I’m here,” she said.