What do you get when you combine a warehouse space in North Boulder, an artistic community and an unconventional entrepreneur with an eye for all things retro?
One of the most interesting outcomes of that equation is The Amazing Garage Sale, an antique and consignment store at 4919 N. Broadway.
“It’s a collection of the best things you’ll find at a garage sale,” says store owner Judi Lesta. Lesta got the idea for the Amazing Garage Sale as she sold 99 percent of everything she owned while preparing to move to Spain. She found the experience exhilarating. She had fun seeing the items that used to furnish her home take on a new context with the people who had purchased them. After moving from Spain to Boulder, Lesta said she wanted to continue the excitement by hosting garage sales at her home on weekends. Lesta attracted attention for her weekend garage sales through a simple sign in her front yard reading: The Amazing Garage Sale.
Now, The Amazing Garage Sale sits in a warehouse in North Boulder. “I liked being in the quirky warehouse setting,” says Lesta. The location of the store certainly has its aesthetic benefits. The concrete floor and aluminum sliding garage door give the store an authentic garage sale feel.
However, Lesta’s easy-going demeanor towards her customers and towards business contributes to the informal, folksy environment more than the appearance of the store itself. When customers see an item they want, they do not have to pay a cent before taking it home. Instead, Lesta allows customers to start a tab, and make monthly payments at their convenience with no interest charges. “There are people that are not honest everywhere,” says Lesta. “But mostly, people in Boulder are great.”
Lesta’s approach to business has earned her many regular customers, and many regular sellers. The Amazing Garage Sale’s inventory is made up entirely of items sold to Lesta by community members. Thus, the variety of items in the store is wide. Much like a neighborhood garage sale, it’s impossible to know exactly what you might find.
The unpredictability of The Amazing Garage Sale is half of its appeal. You can walk through the store looking for a piece of retro furniture or a simple antique trinket, and get lost in the original context of the items.
“Everything has history,” says Lesta.
One particularly captivating item was an antique advertisement for Granger Pipe Tobacco endorsed by famous swimming coach Victor Lawson. While the item was laced with irony, it was also an interesting snapshot of a distinct moment in time.
“Coming in here is a mini-vacation from the mundane — and different every time!” reads a note written in marker on the white walls of The Amazing Garage Sale.
The store is also financially accessible; you could walk in with $20 in your pocket or $2,000 and find something that fits your price range. So The Amazing Garage Sale attracts students, art lovers and members of the community looking to spice up their home.
“The Amazing Garage Sale is, in all aspects of the word, amazing,” says Katie Hitch, a junior film major at the University of Colorado. “This place has such a vast assortment of splendid antique furniture and vintage goods.”
While walking through The Amazing Garage Sale, you can expect to hear the phrase “It’s sold” a few times.
“We sell one-fourth to one-third of our inventory every week, so there’s always something new,” says Lesta.
“I remember when I worked at Goodwill and the owner of The Amazing Garage Sale would come in and look at all our jewelry,” says Michelle Grudzinski, a junior studio art major at CU. “I just remember thinking it’s not really fair that she buys it from us for $2 and resells it in her store for $20. But I guess that’s just business. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re into old treasures; there are a lot of good ones there.”
Lesta says there is always a story that comes along with the items that are sold to her. Sometimes they have to do with a death in the family; sometimes they have to do with making room in a house for a newborn child. Sometimes, they just have to do with a little spring cleaning.
In the end, The Amazing Garage Sale seems to be a business that runs on change, quirk, history and, most of all, community.