Here’s a weird thing to say: There wasn’t any available space at Steeplegate Mall.
That’s not a sick joke – it’s the reality of the situation that befell the Capital Ski & Outing Club as it looked for a place to set up its annual Ski and Skate Sale, a tradition that goes back 50 years.
For many years the sale took place at the Green Street gym. But after 2014, the city needed that space and the club had to look elsewhere. They ended up taking over the storefront that used to be Circuit City (and later Spirit Halloween) at Steeplegate Mall, where they held the sale from 2015 until last year.
In a surprising and fortunate development for the mall, whose struggles have been well-documented, that large storefront has since been taken over by Altitude Trampoline Park. That means, for the second time in three years, the club had to find yet another home for the massive, one-day-only, well-known shopping spree.
After placing an ad in the Monitor, the group got a call from someone who knew of a place, and within about 36 hours the whole predicament was solved, said Cheryl Haydon, president of the Capital Ski & Outing Club.
“I was at my wit’s end, so I called the Monitor to place an ad, and I got my first phone call the next morning,” she said. “The owner of the building emailed me, I met him, and he said yes.”
The building is at 54 Regional Drive, where Comcast’s offices are. Apparently most of the building is vacant, and it’s big enough for the club to hold its sale, so it was a perfect fit. Plus, there’s tons of parking – most of it is around the side and back of the building, not right up front where the entrance to Comcast is.
While Regional Drive isn’t exactly as “hot” of a location as downtown or Loudon Road, the location has a lot going for it that should work well for the sale.
“I think the space is a little bit smaller than the Circuit City spot, but it’s nice because one side has the big door, easy for the dealers to get their items in,” Haydon said. “It’s a good-sized space.”
It’s a good thing, too, because this sale is huge. When asked how many items will be for sale, Haydon couldn’t even begin to come up with a number. “We have an awful lot,” is how she put it.
If you’ve made it this far and still have no idea what I’m talking about, let me catch you up.
The annual Ski and Skate Sale is a one-day shopping event in which the public as well as professional dealers bring in all kinds of winter gear – downhill skis, cross-country skis, snowboards, ice skates, hockey equipment, hats, mittens, toboggans and more – and sell them at discounted prices. The people who bring in the items set the prices, and they keep 80 percent of the sale price while the club takes the other 20 percent. The club uses the money to pay for grooming cross-country ski trails in the city.
For as much stock as they will have on hand, and for as many people as they expect to get – lines typically form well before the sale begins and tend to wrap around buildings – it is a very short-lived event, lasting just five hours. After that, it’s gone until next year.
This year’s sale will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Regional Drive location. Parking – several hundred spaces – is around the back, and there will be signs directing drivers that way. There will also be signs along the road to tell you where the sale is.
If you’d like to try to sell any of your winter gear, you can bring it by the Regional Drive location Thursday starting at 4 p.m. and all day Friday until 7 p.m. Items must be in good, working condition, and inspections will be made on the spot to determine whether an item is in good enough shape to sell. If you have broken bindings on anything, save that for your own yard sale.
Unsold items must be picked up by Sunday, the day after the sale. This is also the time to come and claim your check if you happened to sell anything. Items that don’t get picked up after the sale will have to be donated (where possible) or disposed of, so don’t forget to go back Sunday.
If you’d like to volunteer to work the sale, contact Haydon at 491-4703. To everyone else, happy shopping, and good luck!