AURORA — For people like Ann Affinito, the MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale isn't just a huge retail event. It's a tradition.
She's gone to the Aurora store's annual barn sale with her daughter for the last 10 years and has even camped overnight on the grounds to get into the event as soon as possible. "My whole house is MacKenzie-Child," she said.
It's common for some people to camp out the day before the four-day sale begins. This year, Affinito didn't partake in that tradition. She and her daughter drove from Liverpool to Aurora on Sunday morning for the last day of the sale.
From July 18 to 21, MacKenzie-Childs sold its popular merchandise from an inventory of overstocked goods at deep discounts. It lasted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. In the past, the barn sale has drawn more than 26,000 people from across the country.
Carol Ryerson, customer service manager, said the hot weekend weather didn't seem to affect turnout. She estimated Sunday morning that there could be 24,000 to 27,000 who attended this year's sale.
MacKenzie-Childs has put on the event for 12 consecutive years, although its first barn sale was held in 1996 with a single tent and eventually gained international attention by 2008. The size of the sale has expanded to include the barn and about 2.5 acres of tents.
People packed into the tents on Sunday to search through a sea of boxes with discounted items like decorative flowers, napkins, bowls, cookware and even umbrellas. The barn held MacKenzie-Childs' enamel goods, including a display of its popular checkered tea kettles. Salt and pepper shakers, pitchers and canisters were also stocked on the shelves.
Affinito had a plan for how she was going to approach bargain hunting with such a large inventory. "We just grab whatever we think we want and then we pull over to the side to pick and choose what we need," she said. It was a popular technique, with shoppers sorting through their finds on the grass and in the food tent to figure out exactly what they would take home.
The line Sunday morning stretched from the entrance of the sale, across an expansive lawn where a DJ was playing music, to the parking lot. People were let into the barn sale area in controlled sections. Affinito thought this year's sale seemed more organized, with more staffers to offer help.
"The lines are a lot shorter. They're faster too," she said. Affinito said she and her daughter were only in line for about 30 minutes.
Ryerson said the wait time is unpredictable, but told a curious shopper that they could be waiting to get into the sale for an hour. "It depends truly on how people are filtering through the inside of the sale, through the barn and tents, because of congestion," she said.
MacKenzie-Childs allowed visitors to begin lining up and camping in their spots at 6 a.m. Wednesday, a day before the sale started. While Ryerson was working on Wednesday night, she got to talk with some of the people who came a day early.
"We do have fans from all over the world," Ryerson said, noting that she talked with visitors who came from Washington state and California.