Red Mill events gain in popularity
By Tom Thelen, July 2002

The Red Mill site on Water Street has been a popular place to go to on Saturday mornings since the start of the weekly Farmers market last year. The site's popularity grew even more on July 20 with the addition of another attraction.

The Friends of the Red Mill hosted its first car-boot sale of the year. The sale is open to vendors who are wishing to sell household goods out of the trunk, or "boot" of their car. Approximately 20 vendors turned out for the first sale of the season, which exceeded the expectations of the organizers.

"I am very pleased with the turnout," said Dennis Beard. "This is just excellent, considering this is the first time that we have held this event and I was worried that some people may not have understood the concept. I thought we may only get a couple of people out to sell items, but this turnout was great."

Beard came up with the idea of holding a car-boot sale in Portland following a trip to England.

"In England, this is something that is common to do," said Beard. "Over there, they open their soccer fields up and have the sales on the fields. I thought the idea would work well here in Portland. It is just the perfect thing for someone who has stuff to sell, but does not have enough items to hold a garage sale."

The car-boot sale is scheduled to be held on the third Saturday of each month at the Red Mill in conjunction with the farmers market. There is no fee to sell items with spaces given out on a first come, first serve basis.

"And we don't want people to bring clothing items because we would like to limit the items to quality household goods," said Beard. "Antiques, collectibles and general household items are welcome. We want to keep this as nice as possible. There is no fee to set up and sell items. And if we really get full, we can put some cars across the driveway on the site of the old livestock exchange."

Meanwhile, the farmers market continues to gain popularity both in the number of vendors and number of people who visit the site each Saturday morning.

"The market is going very well," said Madeline Frank. "We had 13 vendors last week and they were wrapped around the porch of the Red Mill. We have also had a constant flow of people coming out. We had fresh strawberries for three weeks and are getting into some blueberries and other vegetables. And other vegetables will be available as they come in season."

Along with fruit and vegetables, vendors have been offering a variety of garden related items, including birdhouses, benches, bird baths and statues and feeding hooks.

The popularity of the farmers market and new car-boot sale is growing to draw visitors from outside the Portland area.

"We had some people come from Lansing to sell items in the car-boot sale." Said Beard. "And some of the shoppers came from as far away as Fowlerville. The word of mouth about what we are doing is really catching on."

The weekly farmers market and car-boot sale on the third Saturday of each month will continue until October 19, which is the third Saturday of October. On that date, organizers will conclude both events for the year with a special Octoberfest celebration.

Anyone wishing to sell items at the farmers market or requesting more information on either event may call Rosemary Neller at 517-647-4014, Madeline Frank at 517-647-4604, or Dennis Beard at 517-647-4715.

Reprinted with permission from the July 28, 2002 edition of The Portland Review and Observer.

Posted January 28, 2003