Imagine the largest garage sale possible with piles upon piles of treasures stacked as high as 5 feet tall.
If that seems impossible, then stop by the 54th Bainbridge Island Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27 for solid proof. Aside from buyers finding great savings, all proceeds go right back to the community, too.
“We want to raise as much money as we can,” said Tom McCloskey, Bainbridge Island Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale auction chairman. “There are many organizations on the island and beyond that depend on us for funds.”
Last year’s sale set an all-time new record high at $466,793 in sales. This year, the hope of Rotarians is to break the record again and generate even more sales.
“It’s an incredible community event, that’s the thing I enjoy the most. It’s an honor to do this job,” McCloskey said.
With more than 1,000 volunteers helping out, McCloskey estimates the there will be 150,000 to 200,000 items on sale at this year’s event.
But, he can’t say that for certain, since some items are as small as thimbles and others as large as cars.
“It’s impossible for us to keep track of,” he said of the actual number of items donated.
Once the doors open Saturday morning, shoppers may want to have a plan in mind.
An alphabetical list of departments — with a map grid of locations — is available online to map out a plan of execution to visit all 39 sale spots.
Chances are, if a shopper is looking for it, it’s located somewhere on the Woodward Middle School campus. From fine art to furniture and camping tents to outdoor toys, there’s rooms of items for all ages and interests that stretch across the length of the school’s campus.
Art worth $3,000 will be on auction during the sale, along with many other prints, originals and etchings for art lovers to peruse.
Need a new camera or computer? There’s two entire rooms dedicated to those favored electronics.
DIY pros will love the variety of doors and windows available, and book aficionados will flock to the gymnasium that’s been turned into a makeshift used bookstore.
Patrons looking to get a sneak peek at items before the sale starts may do so at the no-sale preview night. For curious buyers, the preview will be from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, June 26.
Hardcore sales shoppers will also want to stop in the night before the sale for the opportunity to win unique door prizes: a parking space that will be available by
7 a.m.; a spot near the south entrance to beat the crowds; or a voucher for a free meal inside the auction and sale. Winners must be present to claim prizes.
The money from all sales goes back into the community, making this event one of the most valuable places to pick up collectibles, antiques and more. Community grants, projects, scholarships and international humanitarian projects are funded through the money raised at the one-day sale. Projects such as Rotary Park, Owen’s Playground and high school scholarships are just a few of the ways the Rotary has used past sales funds.
Revenues generated by the sale do not fund the operating costs of the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club, McCloskey stressed. Operating costs are funded through membership dues and are maintained in a separate account.
If the American Pickers-style shopping isn’t your thing, raffle opportunities abound for non-shoppers.
In all, 2,500 raffle tickets will be sold for $10 a piece this year. Prizes are $100 cash, $1,000 cash or $2,000 in cash. There will also be a chance to win a $500 shopping spree at Town & Country Market.
Tickets can be purchased until the last one is sold out. Winners do not have to be present to win.
To make the event happen, volunteers take on the massive task of accepting donations, checking each one for sale validity, organizing and pricing each item before the day of the sale.
On the first day, 300 cars pulled up to the curb to drop-off items, said Taylor Fladgard, a third-year on-site volunteer.
“It looked like a war zone,” Fladgard said of the first day’s donations. “It’s a week-long Goodwill on steroids.”
Volunteers of all ages shuffled about the campus moving items in shopping carts to the proper sections throughout much of the week. Many high school students spent the week inspecting items while racking up volunteer hours for various organizations.
Bainbridge High School sophomores Skye Clark and Ruby Bos chose to spend the early days of summer vacation volunteering. The hours earned will go toward their required National Honor Society member volunteer hours.
Skye, 15, has volunteered for the sale over the last few years, she said. Before she volunteered, she went to the day sale and remembered it being “so crazy and hectic.”
With all the items she’s seeing donated this year, she anticipates it will be much of the same madness.
For her personally, donating hours of time volunteering for the Rotary event is her way of giving back to a club that has given to her over the years, she said.
Skye is involved in extracurricular clubs, many of which have been impacted by the generosity of the Rotary. She said more than one of the clubs she is in have received new flooring from the club because of Rotarian fundraising efforts.
“It’s a great feeling,” she said of volunteering. “It feels really nice to help out in the community in a really fun way. The Rotary Club has contributed so much. I think it’s really cool how it benefits the whole community of Bainbridge Island.”
The two girls organized luggage, arranging travel gear of all shapes and sizes into neat rows.
“There’s a lot of it,” admitted Ruby, 15. “It’s a little overwhelming.”
Even once the sale is over, there is still plenty to do.
To keep dumping costs down and products out of landfills, a green team will work with locals to scour over leftover items. Once the “harvesters” — many local nonprofits and individuals — comb through the sale items, Buy Nothing Bainbridge takes over and invites the public to take what they want for free.
The rest, however, goes to the dump.
“We obviously want to sell as much as we can, and the bargains are tremendous,” said McCloskey. “But there are some things we simply can’t sell or donate.”
After the chaos of the sale is over, and the numbers are totaled, volunteers will be treated to a celebration picnic at Battle Point Park on July 5. It’s the Rotary Club’s way to show gratitude to the volunteers and share with them the event’s gross revenues.
“It’s the closure,” said McCloskey of the picnic. “It’s a last opportunity to say ‘Thank you.’”
Want to go?
The annual BI Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale will be 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 at Woodward Middle School.
Details are available at online at www.bainbridgerotaryauction.org.