A Tent Sale Tradition
In 1981, the McGuckin Tent Sale started as a modest attempt to clear out merchandise.
It was a spring event back then, held under one small tent, where tables loaded with merchandise were hauled into the store after it closed every night, and then out again every morning.
“The first ones were so simple,” said Randy Dilkes, a manager who has been with the store for 35 years. “We mushroomed it and turned it into what we have today.”
Expansions came from some early years of success, creativity and event planning. Soon the McGuckin team needed bigger tents and more merchandise to satisfy demands of shoppers that came from all over for to experience the “Tent Sale.” Before long it was decided that the tent should go up in the fall as well, marking the transition into a biannual community extravaganza.
Pony rides, banjo bands, groovy popcorn carts and nationally renowned jugglers were just a few of the attractions that came in conjunction with the varied tent sale products, a few of which strayed to the bizarre side, remembered McGuckin manager and longtime tent sale veteran Bob Mulder.
Like that time the store bought from an army surplus source and received metal gas cans, ammunition boxes and real Hungarian gas masks, which sold out in the first day- mostly to college kids.
Or the 20,000 soccer balls from a South American world cup that had to be deflated at the border.
Add to that an occasional semi-load of rugs, pink Adirondack chairs and muumuu dresses, and the original crew had some strange stuff come in and out of their hands.
Perhaps it is the eccentricity of the ever-changing tent sale stock that kept the Boulder-and-beyond bargain hunter intrigued to come back for more.
After the 2013 September floods, buyers searched high and low for fans, sump pumps, dehumidifiers and mold control, in an example of reactive buying that aimed to save the water-weary community a little time and money.
Rain, snow or shine, the tent sale continues twice a year, with buyers searching warehouses throughout the country to cool, wacky and practical products alike for customers to ponder.
Check out these facebook albums from previous tent sales: