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Convo hosts first Clean Sweep event

Hosting a garage sale is a time-honored way to clean house, eliminate clutter and make a few bucks.

But it's not always easy: if you live on a low-traffic street or one with no parking, your chances of attracting shoppers are slim. There's always a chance it will rain, and apartment dwellers are just about flush out of luck.

Enter the indoor flea market.

The Convocation Center at Northern Illinois University is hosting its first flea market event, Convo's Colossal Clean Sweep, on Saturday and Sunday. As of Wednesday, more than 70 vendors had rented booth space at the event, and though there was a discount for signing up early, organizers have continued to get reservations every day this week, Convo Center director John Gordon said.

"We've got about nine businesses, and all the rest of the booths are individuals," he said. "It will be a flea market, garage sale type of event."

Parking for the event is free and admission is $1. Children younger than 6 are admitted free. Vendors are expected to sell antiques, collectibles, crafts and the miscellany that is the hallmark of every garage sale.

"I've done these in other facilities I've worked in over the course of my 30-year career," Gordon said. "Every time I've done one in our type of area, like when I've done them in Fargo and Des Moines, I've found there's a great thirst out there. People like to go to garage sales."

Staff have been wanting to do the event for several years, he said. This weekend was chosen as a way to fill an empty weekend at the start of the Convo's traditionally slow summer season, which also coincides with the typical garage sale season.

"April and early May are good times to have this, with spring cleaning and such," he said.

Gordon anticipates at least 3,000 people will attend the event, which he hopes will become an annual attraction. With an initial goal of 50 vendor booths, it is already more successful than anticipated, he said.

If You Go

What: Convo's Colossal Clean Sweep, an indoor flea market

When: Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Where: Northern Illinois University Convocation Center, West Lincoln Highway in DeKalb

Details: More than 70 vendor booths will be selling an assortment of items. Admission is $1, parking is free. Children 6 and younger are admitted free.

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