Semi-annual garage sale thrills bargain hunters

B. A.R.K.S. event raises funds for animal rescue

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  • Volunteers bring the headboard of a purchased bed out to the parking lot for loading, at the BARKS' Semi-Annual Garage Sale, Saturday at Wild West City. Photos by Mandy Coriston

  • Robert Tagliapietra of Brooklyn, chauffeurs Maude the Bulldog around Wild West City on Saturday, while treasure hunting at B.A.R.K.S.' Semi-Annual Garage Sale.

  • Roxanne Horbatuck of Lake Hopatcong shows off a picture of herself at Wild West City as a child.

  • B.A.R.K.S.' Semi-Annual Garage Sale at Wild West City in Byram.

By Mandy Coriston

— Wild West City was alive Saturday afternoon, not with the sounds of the stagecoach and the saloon, but with the buzz of shoppers searching for bargains. The first of B.A.R.K.S.’ two semi-annual garage sales took place last weekend, and Saturday’s summer-like weather had customers out in force, scouring the seemingly endless rows and tables of donated items for the ideal buy.

Perusing the jewelry tent was Roxanne Horbatuck, a Lake Hopatcong resident who says she attends every sale held by the Byram Animal Kindness and Rescue Squad.

“You never know what you’ll find, and it’s all about the animals!” she said.

She even credited one year’s sale with helping her recuperate from major knee surgery, saying she was determined to be sufficiently recovered to walk the entire venue. Now in her sixties, Roxanne has been coming to Wild West City since she was a young child. And she could prove it. She scrolled through her smartphone to proudly display a picture of herself at five years old, sitting on a pony surrounded by her father and siblings.

It wasn’t only locals enjoying the bargains and the beautiful weather. Visiting family for the day, Brooklyn-based fashion designer Robert Tagliapietra found himself at the sale with his husband and business partner Jeffrey Costello, and mother Denise Spina, of Hampton. Accompanying them on what Tagliapietra called “a perfect day for treasure hunting” was their English bulldog Maude, who is herself a rescued pup. Maude calmly watched her family inspect tables of housewares from the shade of a doggy stroller, affectionately ‘smiling’ at those who stopped to greet her.

Dotting the landscape were volunteers of all ages, decked out in vests emblazoned with B.A.R.K.S. on the back. They manned payment stations, sorted and restocked clothing and books, and assisted customers in moving large purchases to the parking lot for loading. Those who had a moment to talk all emphasized that the hard work, twice a year, is worth it to raise money for the organization.

Coordinator Lois Verbeek, who has been running the event since its inception in 1988, praised her volunteers’ efforts and said the weather on Saturday was a blessing for them and shoppers alike. Although Sunday’s weather was not as inviting, Verbeek estimates about 1200 people came to the sale over the course of the weekend.

B.A.R.K.S. relies on the garage sales, which they stage every spring and fall, to be one of their major sources of fundraising. For more information on B.A.R.K.S. and a wealth of resources on adopting and caring for a pet, give them a call at (973) 300-3185 or visit their website at

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