Holding a shiny black pair of ski boots by the laces, Kieran Stone looked pretty pleased with the way his Saturday was shaping up.
His dad stood across the hall, holding a bunch of winter gear he just bought for the 9-year-old.
“We’ve got skates, roller blades, cross-country ski boots, downhill ski boots and cross country poles,” said Kevin Stone, of Charlton, glancing down at it all.
“I also got a new winter coat,” added Kieran with a smile.
At least, it was new to him.
They were waiting in the hallway of Burnt Hills United Methodist Church for mom to finish weaving her way through the rows of second-hand equipment in the other room. Now in its 52nd year, the annual Winter Sports Sale continues to bring the community out — usually in a long line of like-minded winter shoppers waiting for the front doors to open at 9 a.m.
There is some new gear, but by and large the sale continues to be a success because of the recycled ski equipment, boots, skates, snowboards, sleds, jackets, hats, and more that are sold by the community to the community.
“A lot of these people were here last year,” said organizer Greg Adams. “They buy the stuff for the kids to use, who as we all know quickly outgrow things, and then take it back to the community and get a little money for it.”
Sellers get 75 percent of the listed price, and the church gets the other 25 percent for community outreach programs.
“We have people that can walk out of here with snowboards, skis and boots, and they’ll spend a fraction of what they would spend elsewhere,” said Adams. “Not everyone can afford to buy these things new every year.”
The Stones have been skiing for as long as any of them can remember. They also snowshoe and skate, and the boys enjoy playing soccer.
Kieran looks forward to the winter season so he can ski through the glades, and 5-year-old Ethan likes going all the way up to the top of the hills at Gore Mountain and Jiminy Peak.
“We’ve been coming here for about six years,” said Kevin Stone, 44. “We come with a list of our top priorities, and then once we find those we just kind of start browsing after that.”
A core group of church members has kept the annual sale running over the years. It reached its peak in the 1980s, said Adams, when the country was seeing heightened interest in cross-country skiing. Before he took over the sale a decade ago, a church couple ran it for about 25 years, he said.
In recent years, the sale’s first hour usually sends about 200 to 300 people wandering through the small church. Well-priced items sell out quickly, and by the last two hours maybe 50 to 100 people will wander through.
Even though she showed up in the critical first hour, Erin Walker couldn’t find what she was looking for. Her 11-year-old son Sean needed a new ski backpack for his boots and helmet, but they had only been able to find shoulder bags Saturday.
“I’ve heard you can get anything you need for winter here,” said Walker. “We happen to have everything we need already, though, for skiing. Except the bag.”
The sale pulls in people from all around the Capital Region. And the short trip from Ballston Spa turned out to be worth it for Walker.
“I found this good deal on sleds,” she said, holding a pair of red and blue saucers in her hand. “Only six bucks apiece.”