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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Urban Garage Sale offers Milwaukee on a budget

Shoppers flood Turner Hall Ballroom at last year's Urban Garage Sale. Photo courtesy of Natalie Holoubek.

If you didn’t blow all your Christmas gift money on Black Friday this holiday season, Milwaukee’s Urban Garage Sale wants you to save your cash from commercial spending — no Ugg boots, no iPads, no “Glee” soundtracks.

Instead, you can get in touch with your urban, hipster, independent, buy-local-at-a-discounted-price side on Saturday at the fourth Urban Garage Sale at Turner Hall Ballroom.

Hosted by local T-shirt company Heavy Rotation, the event features more than 30 locally owned shops and artists. According to co-founder Natalie Holoubek, the Urban Garage Sale is a unique event because it offers more than just discounted prices: a shopping experience complete with live music and refreshments in a venue with a vintage yet urban vibe.

“(Milwaukee) is a great city, so we wanted it to feel like a city event,” Holoubek said.

She said Heavy Rotation organized and hosted the first Urban Garage Sale in 2006 with the intention of selling Heavy Rotation merchandise — primarily comprised of graphic tees — directly to the people of Milwaukee.

Holoubek said she and her husband wanted to include the community in an event that would promote buying locally and bring a number of vendors together. To give Milwaukeeans an incentive to buy, the emphasis on offering deals was added.

According to Holoubek, the public had an extremely positive response to the Urban Garage Sale from the very beginning, attracting almost 900 urban garage shoppers in 2006. The event has grown each year — peaking last year at more than 1,200 patrons — and Holoubek said she anticipates an even larger crowd this weekend.

Holoubek said the 30 exhibitors, including Allis Bike Shop, Cream City Soap Company, Stone Creek Coffee, Broadway Paper and Fred Boutique, provide a wide array of merchandise. This way, she said, almost anyone and everyone can find something to shop for.

However, she added that the event is specifically geared toward “college-aged, urban, hip and independent people looking to find what is available from their own city.”

One of the primary draws of the Urban Garage Sale is the deals. Every vendor included in the event must offer their goods at a discount, but each exhibitor decides what that discount will be, Holoubek said.

Ron Krinn, CEO of Glam Star Industries Inc., which owns Fred Boutique, said this will be the store’s second year involved with the Urban Garage Sale. Krinn said Fred Boutique plans to bring a “healthy assortment” of merchandise to the event, including racks of sweaters, jackets and cocktail dresses ranging from $5 to $20.

Fred Boutique first became involved with the Urban Garage Sale after a few staff members attended the first event in 2006 and loved it.

While Fred Boutique sought a spot themselves, many of the Urban Garage Sale’s original exhibitors were approached directly by Heavy Rotation, Holoubek said. Over time, the event’s reputation spread by word of mouth, resulting in more businesses asking to join and less soliciting on Heavy Rotation’s part.

She said this year’s garage sale is different because of the addition of new distributors, including seven local artists who will sell their work via framed canvasses, T-shirts or buttons. This year’s event also features discounted haircuts by Agami Salon.

Holoubek attributes part of the event’s success to location, location, location: the Turner Hall Ballroom. While it’s usually utilized for concerts, Holoubek said Turner Hall is a fun and unique venue perfect for the Urban Garage Sale.

“It’s the right size for the number of vendors that we have,” Holoubek said.  “We want the event to have a certain feel, and this fits what we’re trying to get across to people.”

Ryan Matteson, public relations director for Turner Hall Ballroom, said he would have been foolish to refuse “such a cool, unique event.”

Matteson said the yearly growth of the Urban Garage Sale shows the dedication Milwaukeeans have to attending the event and Heavy Rotation has to hosting it.

As Black Friday veterans can attest, everyone’s looking for a good deal. But at the Urban Garage Sale, Holoubek said, shoppers — and especially college students — have an opportunity to find a variety of things at affordable prices.

“I think people within that age group are really in tune with what’s going on within the urban environment,” Holoubek said. “So I think the things they find will relate to them and what their interests might be.”

The Urban Garage Sale takes place this Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Turner Hall Ballroom, 1034 N. Fourth Street. Cost of admission is $3. For more information, call 414-384-5200 or visit

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