BERLIN — Berlin’s oldest ongoing tradition, the August Sidewalk Sale, will celebrate its 60th anniversary this weekend.
“It’s the longest continuous event in Berlin history,” said Steve Frene, event organizer and co-owner of Victorian Charm with his wife, Debbie.
“It goes way beyond my recollection,” said Berlin Economic and Community Development Director Michael Day.
Frene’s store has taken point in representing town merchants for the sidewalk sale this year, as he and his wife have for the past several years. The sale will feature numerous stores around Berlin displaying their wares outside, all at “drastically reduced prices,” according to Frene. Those prices are to encourage the purchasing of generally seasonal items that will become less popular in the fall, he explained.
“It allows us to sell off seasonal merchandise … [customers] have the opportunity to buy brand new merchandise at and below cost,” said Frene.
Main Street will closed for the event and prices during the weekend sale generally start low and drop as the hours go by, he added, because store owners usually don’t want seasonal items returning to inventory where they will collect dust until next summer.
“Shop early for the best selection,” said Frene. “Shop late, if you dare, for the best price.”
While not all businesses have enough inventory, especially in seasonal merchandise, to take full advantage of the sale, Frene said that a majority do and those who do not still at least see a boost in foot traffic.
He also noted that Victorian Charm, which is fashion-based, greatly benefits every year. By liquidating summer fashions, even at cost or under, the store is able to generate capital that can be turned around and invested in fall and winter products.
Frene stressed that it isn’t just the stores benefitting from the sale either.
“This is one of the times to use the phrase, ‘win-win-win,’” he said.
Besides the shops freeing up space, generating capital and customers hitting great deals, Frene explained that even indirectly involved businesses like restaurants make out well during the weekend because of the large crowds.
“We’ve had up to 200 people waiting for the sale to begin … There’s nothing that stimulates the appetite more than shopping,” he said.
As an added bonus, Frene pointed out that Berlin gets increased name recognition through the event and many who come for the sale will return at different times in the year just to explore the town.
While 60 years is quite a legacy, Frene said that this time around he expects “this sidewalk sale to be the biggest by far.”
Day added that, due to the event’s popularity and the fact that not all stores have a bulk of summer merchandise, the town will likely have an additional sidewalk sale this fall.
“It brings a different crowd in,” he said.
Hours for the event will be Friday, Aug. 10, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.