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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hot Time at Pequot’s Summer Book Sale

Hot Time at Pequot’s 
Summer Book Sale:
High temps limit traffic on opening day of 5-day event
By Mike Lauterborn
(posted to 7/22)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Southport, CT – The only thing hotter in Southport than the day’s temperatures was the much-anticipated opening of Pequot Library’s 51st Annual Summer Book Sale. At least, it started out that way when the event opened at 9 a.m. and a crowd rushed the gate. But thermometer readings that climbed above 100 trimmed afternoon crowds to a couple dozen hearty souls.

In large white tents on the browned-out grounds of the Pequot Avenue institution, as well as in the facility’s air-conditioned auditorium, sale goers combed row after row of book titles, CD labels, VHS jackets and more to find palatable choices to curl up and review, resell as dealers or even repurpose as Virginia Marr and Sarah Whiteley, both of Norwalk, were planning.

“We’re looking for antique hard cover books, out of which we will attempt to make purses,” said Whiteley. “I don’t know what we’re going to do with the pages. So, Shakespeare’s Othello will be the new designer clutch purse.”

With regard to the heat, Marr said, “I went to school in Louisiana, so I’m used to the heat. It’s like this every day.”

Whiteley had a completely opposite take. “I’m sweating,” she said. “Every step I take is painful. There are pockets of the tents here that are just too hot to enter, and the only breeze is sticky and hot.”

Kimberly Wasko, an Ansonia resident who works in Westport, had taken a half day to attend the sale. “I look for mostly oversized paperback fiction and mysteries,” she said, mopping sweat from her brow. About the hot temps she said, “The heat is good and bad at the same time. Good in terms of there being fewer people here than previous years. Bad because it’s stifling and I’m dripping. I should have brought a towel!”

Ted Murena, co-chair of the sale, seemed apologetic about the heat. “We always seem to pick the hottest weekend of the year,” he said. “It feels like a sauna today. We had more people than expected first thing this morning, though numbers are down from previous years due to the heat.”

Murena said the library had taken special measures to ensure the safety of its patrons in the unusually hot environment. “We have put out four large dispensers of water, with cups, to keep people hydrated.”

Murena added that there are 150,000 items on sale, including books, CDs, records, DVDs, VHS tapes and more. Over 30 categories are represented, from Atlases and Dictionaries to Young Adult titles. On Sunday, there will be a “reading for children” tent, where additional children’s book titles will be made available. In addition to the merchandise, Café Lulu is onsite with gourmet sandwiches and cold refreshing drinks and radio station WPKN will be around on the weekend broadcasting live.

It was all a great draw for Devon Dopfel, who came all the way down with her dad from Framingham, Massachusetts. “As a hobby, my dad and I sell books,” she said. “This is one of the biggest sales, so it’s worth the trip. I’m a personal trainer, so I look for health and fitness titles. My dad likes business books.”

As a trainer, she had experience dealing with heat. “I’ve been doing a good job of hydrating,” she said. “I’m used to being outside working, so I’m not too bothered.”

Library staffer Robin Jerrild related a hot temps anecdote, while walking through the large tent straightening books. “We shoot a cannon off to start the sale,” she said. “The Pequot Yacht Club loaned it to us this year. The staff member that brought it over said that, at the Club, people were getting dizzy from the heat. He suggested we post OSHA signs saying what to do in a heat emergency.”

Indeed, the library printed out and posted several of these distinctive signs all around the venue.

The temps wouldn’t interrupt Jackie Ryan. A Monroe resident who teaches at the Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center, she was on a mission to secure materials for her classes. “They are in desperate need of books, for a variety of ages.”

Ryan said it was “sweltering but worth coming” and was taking her time and pacing herself.

She wasn’t the only teacher on hand. Shannon Palumbo, of Waterbury, and Giovanna Baker, are instructors at Black Rock School in Bridgeport and were given a $100 grant to buys books for their classes. At checkout, their purchases totaled up to that amount – mission completed.

Pequot Library Summer Book Sale Days/Hours/Pricing:
Friday: 9am – 8pm (Items are twice the cost of the marked price)
Saturday and Sunday: 9am – 5:30pm (Items priced as marked)
Monday: 9am – 6pm (Items half price)
Tuesday: 9am – 2pm (Items are $5 for a bag)

For more information, call 203-259-0346 or visit

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