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Rock Falls annual community garage sales see busiest year due to COVID-19

People have been told to "stay at home", but now customers are visiting homes to check out bargains. Safety precautions are put in place.

ROCK FALLS, Illinois — There's a sale going on throughout Rock Falls and Sterling.  More than 100 people signed up for the Annual Community Garage Sale. But this year's sale may be the most important in its nearly 15-year history.

For months, people have been staying at home, but now sellers in Sterling - Rock Falls want customers to come to their home. But to get the bargains some sellers want people to wear masks.

"I did have some customers say this was the only sale they were going to go to because I was the only one that said "masks"," says Dana Szakatits, a seller at the Community Garage Sale.

Szakatits says she takes part in the event every year, but this time she wanted people to wear masks at her sale.  She sells masks, hair bows, and lamps - all hand made with extra time on her hands.

"Because of all the craft shows being closed down and the craft stores being closed, I have a lot of inventory," says Szakatits.

"You're either here to make money or get rid of things," says Polly Tierney, another seller. "I'm here to get rid of things."

Tierney says this was the time to purge outdated decor she's had for 40 years.

The Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce says this year's event was needed. 

"We realized people needed some extra cash and we wanted to find a way to support the community," says Bethany Bland, Membership and Events Coordinator for the Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce.

She says it's a boost for the city to hold the event each year.  People stop in town for deals, but also gas and food.

"Every time I've done this someone comes up to me and says "I didn't know this business was here" and that business was there for 30 years," Bland says.

The Chamber says it wasn't sure if this weekend would work, but decided to go ahead with Illinois now in Phase 4 of its reopening plan.