Overlook Neighborhood Yard Sale 2014

lavender in rusty wheelbarrow, Overlook Bluff, Portland

The Overlook Neighborhood Yard Sale, held on Saturday the 19th, was the most casual, laid-back Portland neighborhood sale I've attended yet, so casual it barely seemed organized, though maybe that was the intent. Without a sale map—and even with the map—it was hard to spot most of the yard sales, tucked back into their driveways with few, if any, signs. Plus, it was a hot day, so nobody seemed to care much whether they sold anything or not, too busy chatting with their neighbors or sitting in the shade, trying not to melt. Maybe they were just waiting to put everything out onto the curb for the Free Share on Sunday. I realized, scrolling through my photos after, that I hadn't even taken any pictures of the actual sale yards—too busy playing neighborhood tourist. Oops. But I enjoyed this sale, at least the first few hours of it.

giant all-white house, Overlook neighborhood, Portland

My thrifting pal Jeff and I met up near Overlook Park and wound our way north on foot. The houses were well kept, some even posh, leaving me feeling like I'd discovered a secret Portland neighborhood nobody's ever heard of: Wow, and some of these people even have crazy-good views! One of the yard sales specifically supported the Friends of Overlook Bluff drive to save the last remaining section of riverfront white-oak savannah from development and instead gently nudge it along into a native-species park with natural habitat trails. Save the Overlook Bluff! One friendly supporter ranted about the evils of apartment complexes. I said apartments certainly had a place in cities, just not on the bluff. She eyed me askance. I imagined her very easily starting a petition to Ban All Apartments! Ah, the perpetual battle between single-family home owners versus apartment-complex developers: no one wants a blocked view or riffraff like me living next door.

Save Overlook Bluff sign, Portland, Oregon

Swan Island, Portland

After we'd gotten about halfway through the sales, we found ourselves cut off by some kind of expressway, which turned out to be Going Street. Though I'd lived for a couple years in inner Northeast Portland up on Alberta Avenue where gunshots still rang out on hot, restless summer Sunday evenings even post-gentrification, only last weekend did I learn that Going Street becomes another type of street altogether west of Interstate Avenue—no more walkable north-south grid—meaning if headed west on Going from Interstate, you'll only be going to Swan Island, for Going bisects the Overlook neighborhood almost like a knifed freeway. White money sits well tended south of Going near the Bluff overlooking downtown, while shades of poverty and color are increasingly visible further north. All the poor folk haven't yet been gentrified out of Overlook, though the apartment complexes are mostly all up near Killingsworth and alongside Interstate. These are the kinds of urban facts you can learn firsthand from garage-saleing: exactly where the money is and where it isn't. In other words, most of the good yard sales were found south of Going.

DIY street sign, Overlook Neighborhood, Portland

Adidas Village sign, Overlook, Portland, Oregon

Who knew before last weekend that Adidas had seated its North American headquarters on the Overlook Bluff? Not me.

Another interesting part of north Portland compared to most of south and east Portland are the many alleyways tucked back as unfinished streets behind houses and between minor streets. We walked along one dusty, gravelly alley atop broken blacktop and past rusty old cars and detached garages, plucking a few early tart blackberries from trailing vines.

purple hibiscus, Overlook Neighborhood, Portland

Reseller Jeff scored big at Overlook, even more than usual, spending only $17 and hauling home a trailer full of furniture and other stuff, including a free working gas barbecue grill; a box of green plastic army men ($1); two free 1960's candles, a dented turtle and an owl; four different free vintage chairs (three wood, plus one stripey-webbed aluminum lawn chair in perfect condition), a folding aluminum-and-wood-slat bench ($2), a mid-century teak-and-beat-up-leather armchair ($5), a Deco dresser ($7); and a pile of free lumber. If he'd had a spare $250, he also could have snagged a pristine 1950's custom-made, extra-long vintage sofa. Granted, most of the furniture he found needs fixing and refinishing: a couple of the chairs cry for wood glue and a good cleaning and oiling, and the bench requires a new screw and some sanding and staining. But that's the nature of vintage resale at these prices.

vintage red telephone box, Overlook, Portland

I myself spent only $3.50 at the Overlook Sale. A fraction of that was spent on two books, one being a first-edition hardcover short-story collection. Nobody except Powell's knows how to price books these days. I saw hardcovers at different sales selling for $2, $1, and even 25 cents. So guess which house I bought books at? That's right, at the twenty-five-cent bookstore—a whole table of books for twenty-five cents each. And that was the same house that offered U-pick peaches: "If you can reach it, you can pick it." The motto of that crowded sale, which seemed to be run by a group of lesbian friends pooling the work and proceeds, seemed to be: Life is about sharing and having fun. Not a bad motto (and awfully good marketing).

Little Free Library, Overlook Neighborhood, Portland

The other three dollars means I am now the proud owner of a vintage Rival Crock-Pot with removable server crock that I'll use to cook beans and soups overnight or while at work. Though I see Crock-Pots all the time at Goodwill, this one caught my eye because the design lacks the ubiquitous 1970's line drawings of onions and mushrooms and isn't avocado green. Ever since I switched from a traditional blender to an immersion blender, puréed soups like butternut are even faster to prepare, while regular soups are just plain throw-it-in-the-pot-and-leave-it easy. Theoretically, the slow-cooker takes less energy than an electric stove (mine's currently gas), but the real savings will be in time. And if I never end up using it, I'll just resell it to someone who will.

(not yet cleaned) vintage Rival Crock-Pot, Overlook Yard Sale map

Fremont Bridge, Portland, Oregon

By the time four o'clock rolled around, I was hot, tired, and cranky while Jeff was loading up his trailer. We used the restrooms and refilled our water bottles over at Kaiser Permanente on the other side of Interstate (free bathroom tip alert!) and then headed full-circle back to Overlook Park for a picnic dinner, though I'd forgotten to bring a blanket. We ate finger foods on the grassy, sun-dappled hill, one eye on the trailer, little bugs and spiders whispering over our legs and arms, watching the families down below playing in the park, a woman tickling her shaggy dog, carpenters at a nearby house sharing a beer after work, a two-generation family barbecuing on their deck in full view, while the sun eased down through the trees.


  1. Anonymous27/7/14 09:04

    Your trip reports are great. I went to this one too, and got a book at that same 25 cent table. Though, I got my best deals north of Going (not looking for furniture though). Are there any more upcoming weekend neighborhood sales that you know of?

  2. How funny that you remember the same table. It's hard to beat hardbacks for a quarter—unless, of course, they're free. That house had a nice vibe going. It's interesting you had better luck north of Going. Maybe it depends more on where you start from, assuming the best stuff gets swiped early on? We were walking around the south part, but then since the north sales were more spread out, we used the car more up there, finally just driving by the remaining houses towards the end. It's good we're all looking for different things, right?

    The Concordia Neighborhood sale was this weekend, Friday through Sunday, so there might be a few remaining sales this afternoon (late notice, though). I thought about going yesterday but wasn't up for it this weekend.

    The Kenton Neighborhood 2nd Annual Garage Sale is coming up on September 6th, 9-3 (https://www.facebook.com/kentongaragesale). They had 70 houses last year (the first year). I'll probably go this year.

    If you hear of any others on your end before end of summer, let me know, too. It'd be great if there were a source compiling all the Portland neighborhood sales, though I guess with 95 neighborhood associations, that's a challenge. Still, it seems there could be a citywide calendar made for things like these neighborhood garage sales and free park concerts or other things people would be happy to visit different neighborhoods for. I've been trying to put an informal list together of sales I know about, just for my own records, at the bottom of this year's Eastmoreland Sale post: http://secondhand-goods.blogspot.com/2014/06/eastmoreland-neighborhood-garage-sale.html.

  3. Anonymous27/7/14 19:06

    Thanks for your response and heads-up on the Kenton sale. We (walking with a friend) started in the southern part of the Overlook sale and finished up north too. I noticed that the northern sales were less busy, maybe some people skipped them because it was more effort to get there (more spread out). I came upon a downtown "garage" sale in the Park blocks last year on my way to PSU Farmers market. Small, but fun. I tried searching online, but haven't seen the notice for that yet. Best wishes for a good week.

  4. I've wondered what the downtown sale was like after I saw references to last year's when I was trying to find new sales a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be holding one this year per the PDNA calendar, though they're doing a Recycling & Clean-up Day on 8/23. Happy hunting!


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