It’s a cornucopia of vintage dishware, eclectic clothing, trinkets, and furniture, and wooden skis laid out across a lawn. People wander up and down the hills of the neighborhood’s streets with paintings tucked beneath their arms and books in hand as the smell of cooking ribs wafts around and about Ashmont Hill through the spring foliage.
And so the Ashmont Hill Garage Sale has merrily chugged along after four decades. This year, the 40th event will be held on Sat., May 18, beginning at 9 a.m. on Ocean Street and running across the neighborhood until 2 p.m.
In its early years, about 20 homes participated, but now there are regularly about 50 residences across just a few blocks where homeowners scavenge in their basements and plunder their attics for a profitable spring cleanout.
There were a number of house tours on Ashmont Hill in the 1970s before residents decided to convert the event into an annual yard sale. “As I recall,” longtime Ashmont resident Vicki Rugo told the Reporter last year, “the reason to do the yard sale was that the house tours had been so successful in getting people to Dorchester, getting them into a neighborhood, one of many that people had no idea were even there, that it was partly for people to make money and sell and unload their things, but also a way to get people walking around their neighborhood. And a yard sale is a lot easier to put on than a house tour.”
Each year, strolling around the neighborhood is as much a treat for the eyes of visitors as it is a coup for the owners’ wallets, with gorgeous Victorian homes rising behind each of the yards. “The houses are at least as interesting as what’s going on outside,” Rugo said. “It’s just this great neighborhood event, because, you know, people come from other Dorchester neighborhoods. It’s sort of your once a year check-in.”
Some things sell more quickly than others; clothes are tough to get rid of, and furniture is often unwieldy. But when the sale officially wraps up at 2 p.m., many residents leave unsold items on the curb for neighbors or passersby who whisk them away.
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