By Chris Carroll
The cars and trucks start arriving before the sun is up, driving quietly through Avalon Park in search of deals. These are the early birds, only one small part of the large crowd of visitors that will flow into the neighborhood over the course of the day.
For seven years Avalon Park has been home to a community event that bills itself as Orlando’s Biggest Yard Sale. The numbers are hard to dispute. The sale is held twice a year, in March and October, and includes hundreds of families, each holding a sale at their home. Tens of thousands of items change hands, generating cash for local families struggling in a difficult economy.
Residents with full closets and boxes of old toys aren’t the only ones who benefit, though. Local businesses see an uptick in traffic, and charities are recipients of some of this money. For instance, many families hold sales to raise funds for school functions or charitable organizations, and Goodwill arranges to bring trucks in for residents who want to have their un-sold items picked up. Some groups even buy truckloads of baby and maternity items to donate to women’s shelters.
The hub of this activity is the sale’s website, AvalonYardSale.com, which also functions as a free classifieds site. As families start signing up weeks before the sale, they get listed on an interactive Google Map, with an address and a list of items they’re selling, as general or specific as they choose. This helps visitors plan what parts of the neighborhood they’ll visit first.
And visit they will; the sale coordinator maintains a list of thousands of email addresses for Central Florida visitors, all of whom have opted-in to being notified of upcoming sales. Some shoppers drive from as far away as Daytona or Tampa. Advertising and outreach is also done via newspaper ads, online postings, and social marketing efforts, all establishing the Avalon Park community yard sale as the biggest in Orlando, if not Central Florida.
There are only 2 requirements for participation: residency anywhere in the greater Avalon area, and a small participation fee which covers county permits, site maintenance, and advertising. Signup is quick and easy via a link on the main site.