The Backstory: Austin’s City-Wide Vintage Sale


The citywide sale began in 1977. Here’s how the event started.

AUSTIN, Texas – What did the gas shortage of the 1970s have to do with a vintage sale?

“It was 1977. The gasoline shortage was in full swing. We thought it wasn’t a good idea to have garage sales all over town, ”says City-Wide Vintage Sale owner Sammie Dwyer.

So they rented out the old City Coliseum, which is no longer today, put all garage and estate sales under one roof, and thus started the City-Wide Vintage Sale. Dwyer and his daughter Jennifer say vendors and attendees immediately loved it for its convenience.

“I think she just started one just to see how it would go. And it was a huge success. I mean, when we were in the Colosseum, the line was literally wrapped around the building to get in. I mean, that was a really big deal, ”Dwyer said.

Since the first City-Wide Vintage Sale in 1977, a lot has changed in Austin. The event itself has changed location and name, but some things have remained the same. One of the constants of the City-Wide Vintage Sale is Dorothy McPhaul.

McPhaul owns Johnny’s Antiques, an East Austin store that was opened by her grandfather in 1918. It is located on 6th Street and is surrounded by new builds much larger than her.

“We are like two mountains with a slope. And I am the slope,” says McPhaul.

McPhaul grew up around antiques. Her mother owned Johnny’s Antiques before her and participated in the City-Wide Vintage Sale. Dorothy would follow and help. Now Dorothy is bringing her son to the event.

“We call it a family affair,” says McPhaul.

Before the pandemic, she says she never missed a City-Wide Vintage sale. She looks forward to the event and will share her passion for antiques with attendees.

“People can see you love antiques, the way you talk about them. You can see the love in my face,” McPhaul says.

The City-Wide Vintage sale was going well until the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are a very small company and like everyone else we have struggled desperately over the past year to try to keep our business open. We are an incubator for small businesses, ”says Dwyer.

After having to cancel the monthly event, the City-Wide Vintage sale was actually the first event to return to the Palmer Events Center in April 2021. The owner says they were the first to return because they had been there since. Longer.

The event features vintage goods from local and regional vendors, including furniture, clothing, movie posters, and more.

The event will return to the Palmer Events Center on Saturday June 26 and Sunday June 27.

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