(Photo by John Cook) Ron Cameron grills hot dogs outside Grace Lutheran Church in Vassar, where volunteers serve a variety of food today during the M-15 Garage Sale. The event brings thousands of visitors to communities including Vassar, Millington and Otisville. Grace Lutheran Church, 885 Saginaw St., is one block behind the Vassar McDonald’s restaurant.

(Photo by John Cook)
Carrie Woelzlein, left, and her husband, Vince Woelzlein, of Tuscola County’s Arbela Township, peruse items at a garage sale in Vassar at the home of Larry and Beth Hecht. The Hechts host a multi-family yard sale today inside six tents and a small barn at 953 Day Road in Vassar, as part of the M-15 Garage Sale event.

Some sellers during today’s M-15 Garage Sale might figure sales will drop given the forecast calling for wind, possible rain and a high temperature of 52 degrees.

Beth Hecht’s not buying it.

“In some of the nastiest weather, we always have good days – really good,” said Hecht, 66, who joins with her husband, Larry, to host a multi-family yard sale today at 953 Day Road in Vassar – a block behind the Vassar McDonald’s restaurant on M-15.

“We have a variety of people who have a variety of items to sell, so that makes it great,” said Hecht, who helps run the annual sale at her home, with items housed in six tents on the lawn.

(Photo by John Cook)
Ron Cameron grills hot dogs outside Grace Lutheran Church in Vassar, where volunteers serve a variety of food today during the M-15 Garage Sale. The event brings thousands of visitors to communities including Vassar, Millington and Otisville. Grace Lutheran Church, 885 Saginaw St., is one block behind the Vassar McDonald’s restaurant.

“This is a one-stop shopping mart,” Beth Hecht said.

The sale along M-15 – stretching from Bay City to Clarkston and including Vassar, Millington and Otisville – draws crowds to tables and tents along the state highway and on side streets, country roads and backstreets.

The sale at Larry and Beth Hecht’s house brought in about $5,000 last year in three days, including the Saturday of the M-15 Garage Sale. This year, the sale features items from sellers including Larry and Beth Hecht, Willie and Arlene Wirth, Kelly Rich, Verona Reinert, Fred Hecht, Gloria Burley, Paula Pegley, Taryn Hill and Patti Crosby.

National Weather Service meteorologist Sara Schultz calls for a 40 percent chance of rain today around Vassar and Millington, with a high temperature of 52 degrees and northwest winds from 11 to 17 mph, gusting to 29 mph.

“Buyers come anyway,” predicted Larry Hecht, 73. “They’ll sit out in the car and they’ll wait until the rain lets up and they’ll come walking through.”

“Since we’ve had the tents in the yard there’s no difference in what day it is,” added Beth Hecht. “We don’t have time to sit down. Unless you’re the one taking money, you’re moving, changing things – putting something new out.”

Vince and Carrie Woelzlein, both 31, of Tuscola County’s Arbela Township, visited the Hecht family sale on Thursday.

“The only item I’m looking for is a 10-pound propane tank,” Vince Woelzlein said. “They’re about $80 or $90 new.”

Amanda Pennell, 37, of Vassar Township, dodged raindrops as she ducked beneath the tents at the Hecht sale to look for bargains with her daughters, Adelle, 4, and Arielle, 2.

Larry Hecht gave a free teddy bear to each of the girls, noting he keeps a supply of dolls and teddy bears around for children.

“They’re free, and they’re clean,” Larry Hecht said. “Last year I had a young woman come in and she had a little girl with her who was about three years old. I told the woman I had them and I wanted to give one to the girl, and the woman said ‘Good.’

“So I handed the (stuffed animal) to that little girl and she had a big smile on her face, and I said, ‘Do I get a big hug now?’ and she says, ‘No.’”

Regardless of weather, the Hecht yard sale is a family tradition.

“We started the sale out on the farm on M-46 – we had a big old Army tent out there – and that goes back 40 years,” said Arlene Wirth of Vassar, Larry Hecht’s sister. “Then after mom (Helen Kreil) died, Larry and Beth (Hecht) started having the sale here, and the whole family just converged on ’em here.”

Fred Hecht, Larry Hecht’s brother and the retired police chief of Tuscola County’s Denmark Township, said he sold a children’s bicycle, a toolbox and a double stroller on Thursday. Verona Reinert noted the family garage sale profits from the former chief’s presence.

“For good security, we hired him,” Reinert quipped. “The price was right.”

Another Vassar tradition during the M-15 Garage Sale takes place just up the street from the Hecht house – at Grace Lutheran Church at 885 Saginaw St., where church members make and sell food.

“The best seller there is gonna be Barb Bauer’s lemon meringue pie – instant sell-out,” Arlene Wirth advised.

On Thursday afternoon, Dan Finta and Ron and Mary Cameron manned the tent along the street outside Grace Lutheran Church.

“A lady today drove up and got a rhubarb pie and a raspberry pie without having to get out of her car,” Finta said. “I put the pies right in her back seat.”

“Curbside service,” said Mary Cameron as her husband, Ron, grilled Koegel’s hot dogs to sell to garage-sale attendees.

On Thursday afternoon, a car approached. “Got any cherry pie?” asked a woman seated in the driver’s seat.

“Blueberry and apple,” Finta replied.

“Sorry,” the woman responded, driving away.

Proceeds from the Grace Lutheran food sale go to the church and are spent on special community projects, Finta said. A bite to eat doesn’t cost much – witness a mini-loaf of zucchini bread, made by Norma Erickson, selling for 75 cents.

Garage-sale prices near M-15 could sink even lower today as homeowners look to unload their unwanted collections.

“On Saturday afternoon, a lot of stuff at our sale is half off, because you want to get rid of it and then you don’t have to pack it up,” Arlene Wirth said.