For Sale in Sumpter

July 08, 2002 11:00 pm
Jan and Bill Smith shop garage sales near their Sumpter Cabin for "junk — I mean, collectibles," Jan said. (Baker City Herald/Brenna Knowles).
Jan and Bill Smith shop garage sales near their Sumpter Cabin for "junk — I mean, collectibles," Jan said. (Baker City Herald/Brenna Knowles).

By BRENNA KNOWLES

Of the Baker City Herald

When the Flea Market comes to Sumpter, U.S. Highway 7 and Cracker Creek Road are lined with yard sale and barn sale signs, attracting visitors en route to the market.

Aside from the Kettle Corn and $5 sunglasses on sale at the market, visitors can find everything from a 1987 Chrysler to kitchenware at the local roadside sales.

Butch Partlow, a miner who lives near Spalding Ridge came to Sumpter for the weekend to sell his extra equipment out of a friend's yard. "It's miscellaneous merchandise, otherwise known as junk," he said.

Partlow covered his coffee to keep the dust out while cars, trucks, ATVs and groups of people on foot took the final corner into the Flea Market parking lot. "Believe it or not, this is an awful slow day," he said.

Partlow said the market last time was "twice or better" the size of this weekend's market. He said many of the venders chose to attend a market near Sun Valley, Idaho. He said the attendance at the market may be down because of the many Fourth of July events in the Baker area.

Partlow calls the market a "swap meet" and said it gives people "someplace to go and something to do." This was Partlow's first time as a salesman, he said he usually comes to browse.

Partlow enjoys Sumpter when it is not market time for its "solitude, quiet, weather" and lack of traffic.

Partlow said the market is "like a big party three times a year." He said when the venders leave "you can hear the town take a great big sigh." Partlow said every year he "can't wait for the market to happen," and "can't wait for it to leave."

He said the market could be improved with better food and more entertainment. "It's too commercialized," he said.

Along Cracker Creek Road, Norm Whitlow hosted a barn sale. Whitlow used to have a store called Sluice Box Antiques in Sumpter, but he shut down the business due to health problems.

He was selling off the rest of his store's merchandise at the barn sale along with skis, tools and car parts. He said a furniture business has replaced his antique store.

Whitlow is retired after working in Beaverton for 31 years. He said he is "meeting his dream" because he wanted to live in Sumpter all of his life.

Whitlow said if his sale was successful this weekend, he'd try another one when the Flea Market came to town again. He said 20 to 30 customers had stopped by the day before and his big sales were wheels, a school desk and glassware.

Jan and Bill Smith, part time Sumpter residents and Whitlow's neighbors explored the sale.

"I'm looking for kitchen stuff, stuff for the cabin, books, you know, junk, I mean, collectables," Jan said, "and Bill's making a date to go fishing with our neighbor."