Coronado: life is a garage

Darlynne and Marc Menkin | It’s All Happening

For years, we kept hearing how awesome the garage sales were in Coronado. We’ve always been intrigued but somehow, it would go in one ear and out the other.

Darlynne and Marc Menkin

Darlynne and Marc Menkin

After all, how good could it be? Then one day, we decided to see what the fuss was all about so we loaded up our bikes and headed to the island.

If you’ve never experienced a Thursday morning Coronado garage sale, there’s nothing like it. It’s not just a garage sale, it’s a colorful adventure. As we weaved our way through the quiet neighborhood streets, the mood was calm and tranquil. We felt the warm sun on our backs and there was a light breeze, making it a perfect day to be outside.

Our first stop was the Coronado Journal office, because every Wednesday, the paper lists all the garage and estate sales.

We formulated our game plan and hopped on our bikes in search of some hidden treasures. Since our company creates fun bike rides for a living, we were in heaven. Not only were we tooling around on beach cruisers, we got to put our navigational skills to the test as we tried to figure out the quickest route from one street to the next. Cruising through the alleys made us feel like little kids because we never knew what we would find.

Coronado residents take a lot of pride in their neighborhood, so in many cases, the alleys are just as clean and pristine as the front of their homes.

Debra Smith’s house was our first garage sale stop. She had everything from men and women’s clothing to books, CDs and kitchenware. There were lots of nifty items and everything was in great shape. If you only had $20 in your pocket, you could easily walk away with a bag full of goodies. Debra was also a great storyteller, which made the experience even more enjoyable. She told us about the time she gave away a suit to a gentleman who needed new business attire. “It’s such a blessing to be in a position when you can help someone,” Smith said. “Whatever items we don’t sell, we donate to the hospital,” she added.

In addition to all the great finds, Coronado garage sales are a great social activity. During our visit with Debra, her friends would stop by to say hello. One friend even introduced us to a cool Facebook group that allows you to post photos of items for sale. The page is specific to the Thursday and Saturday garage sales held on the island, but allows others to post sale items, too. When you go to Facebook, type in Coronado CA Online Yard Sale.

Our next stop was a few blocks away. We were excited about this one because it wasn’t just one family. It was several families pooling their resources together. When we arrived, we realized we knew one of the family members.

It was a dear friend we’ve known for years through the tourism industry. This stop had lots of high-end items like beautiful glassware and china, as well as professional photographs of San Diego scenes. But there were also fun items like cool baseball caps and useful office items like folders and binders.

One interesting tidbit – Coronado has a high population of military families and because of that, you can always find good stuff since they tend to move every few years and need to purge. “One year, I bought a gorgeous handmade blanket from China for five bucks and a rare porcelain German doll for two dollars. It was amazing,” Jenny Kramen told us. Jenny is a garage sale fanatic who loves finding hard to beat bargains.

Whenever we think of Coronado, we always picture a classic beach town. But now, thanks to people like Debra Smith and Yvonne Kuhn, we now have something else we love about this special paradise.

We want to hear from you –  The Headquarters at Seaport District has added pizazz to the Downtown scene. We love how Seasons 52 has a piano man in the middle of their bar. Pay a visit to The Headquarters and check out the jail cell. Take a creative photo with you and a friend. The best picture will win two tickets to an Urban Challenge Downtown with Where You Want to Be Tours. Email it by December 22 to

Marc & Darlynne Menkin are the co-owners of “Where You Want To Be Tours.” Many of their tours and team-building scavenger hunts feature secret Downtown areas. They can be reached at For more info about their walking, bicycle and bus tours of San Diego, visit

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