Img_5316Sniff_testBargain hunters went sniffing along Monmouth Street this morning. One woman brought her pooch, apparently to give the goods an expert sniff.

The streets of downtown Red Bank were thronged all day Friday, day one of the 54th annual Sidewalk Sale, bringing an increasingly rare note of optimism to the voices of retailers.

“It started early,” said Mike Bonney of Red Bank News, who was selling lots of cold drinks beneath a tent on Monmouth Street. “It’s nice to see so many people out.”

Retailers reported strong traffic and decent sales well into the evening. “It really picked up during the dinner hours,” said Ellen D’Amore of Soapmarket. One shopper who brought a baby stroller said she found the sidewalks hard to navigate because of the turnout.

Expectations are high for today, given another strong start this morning and a forecast for nice weather.

Img_5271At Coco Pari, a shopper went looking for a big sturdy bag to schlep her stuff around in.

“I know a lot of people will be at the beach because it’s a nice day, but maybe this can continue,” said D’Amore, who reported sales “about equal to last year — which is good, because it’s a generally slower year.”

The sale continues through Sunday, with free parking throughout the downtown.

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