Revamped Eagle County rummage sale returns in August
Venerable event has been a hallmark of valley life for decades
Life in Eagle County is punctuated by a handful of truly unique community events — opening and closing days at Vail and Beaver Creek, the July 4 celebrations in Avon and Vail and the August Eagle Valley Community Fund Rummage Sale.
But a couple of years ago, it appeared the venerated rummage sale — conducted at the former Battle Mountain High School building at Maloit Park in Minturn, with proceeds benefiting dozens of local nonprofits — had sold its last trinket.
The sale lost its Maloit Park location in 2017, and after more than five decades, the volunteers in charge of the massive effort decided it was time to retire. It was devastating news for the groups who relied on funding from the sale. The event traditionally generated upward of $120,000, which was then channeled to the various valley nonprofits.
But you can’t keep a good idea down. In 2018, the United Way of the Eagle River Valley stepped up to take the lead role in organizing the sale and the Eagle County Board of Commissioners provided a new location at the Eagle River Center at the county fairgrounds. The sale returned in September 2018 — smaller in scope and size but still offering an impressive heap of clothing, sports equipment, home goods and furniture.
Then COVID-19 hit, bringing a sale hiatus in 2020. But the event will return in 2021. It is also back to its August timing and back to accepting donations for weeks leading up to the actual sale. It’s great to return to those traditional hallmarks, noted Rebecca Kanaly, the executive director of United Way of the Eagle River Valley.
“Everyone at the United Way of the Eagle River Valley and all of the rummage sale folks who have kept this going over the years are so inspired by the community’s desire to get back out there and have this rummage sale,” Kanaly said. “Everyone believes the community needs the sale as part of our healing from COVID.”
The dates for The “New” Rummage Sale of Eagle County are Friday through Sunday, Aug. 27-29. But the work is already underway for the event. That means sale organizers need volunteers and donations and they are mobilized to accept both.
Many hands, tons of stuff
Ever since the Maloit Park site shut down, collections for the rummage sale have been a challenge. It’s hard to mount a sale that prides itself on shear volume without a spot to store all those donated treasures.
“They had so much inventory in the past, being able to collect year around,” Kanaly noted.
The new sale isn’t at the year-round collections stage yet, but organizers have markedly expanded the collection schedule. Starting in June, they began stockpiling donations at the Edwards Youth Closet and Toy Chest location — a large space located behind Subway at the Northstar Center in Edwards. Donations can be dropped off there at any time. Additionally, Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Eagle is a drop-off site for sale donations.
For residents who can’t make it to these downvalley locations, donations also can be dropped off at the Avon FirstBank on Saturdays.
The same long-standing donation guidelines are still in play — is an item clean, is it in good condition and does it work? If the answer to those three questions is yes, the rummage sale will gladly accept it.
Kanaly noted some donations come in small grocery bags. Others come by the houseful.
“We have had several people donate to the sale who are aging out of their current homes,” she said. “They specifically called me because they are long-time rummage sale volunteers. They said they wanted to donate, but warned me they probably had truckloads of stuff.”
Kanaly told these enthusiastic donors to bring it on. “I am so honored to give them a place to pass on their well-loved home goods,” she said. “And it is a lot of stuff.”
Rummage sale volunteers are already at work organizing the intake.
“We are sorting clothing better than we ever have before and it should make clothing shopping easier this year. Really, that’s what we want. We are focused on making the shopping experience very friendly and inviting,” Kanaly said.
That extra effort necessitates more workers, and as businesses throughout the valley can attest, that’s an issue.
“We really need volunteers,” Kanaly continued. “Like every other establishment in the service industry right now, we are having a hard time finding workers.”
Working the rummage sale isn’t a paying proposition for the volunteer, but it does make money for the organization of his or her choice. This year there are 57 nonprofits to choose from.
“I want to stress how cool it is to volunteer to earn money for your service group,” Kanaly said.
In 2018 and 2019, more than 150 individual volunteers put in more than 3,300 hours of work to stage the sale. “That is huge in terms of volunteerism and a feat of moving mountains,” Kanaly said.
She noted there are three general volunteer categories:
- Saturdays through Aug. 14: Volunteers are needed at the Avon and Eagle collections sites to manage donations. There is also room for several volunteers at the Edwards site to process inventory.
- Wednesday, Aug. 25 through Friday, Aug. 27: Volunteers needed to arrange inventory on tables and racks at the Eagle River Center. Department heads are needed to decide how the section will appear and how many volunteers are needed.
- Friday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Aug. 29: On the sale days, volunteers staff the event and keep things tidy. Sunday volunteers pack up the leftovers up for move out.
Right now there are around 1,500 volunteer hours available on the sign-up sheet. To pledge time at the sale, visit TheRummageSale.org.
That website is also crammed with information about the sale including a list of items that can be donated, a list of the participating nonprofits and directions to the sale site.
“A lot of our donors and buyers are loving that we are having the sale in August again,” Kanaly added. “And yes, we already have tons of stuff, ready to sell.”
What: The “New” Rummage Sale of Eagle County
When: Friday, Aug. 27 from 5 to 9 p.m. Admission is $10; Saturday, Aug. 28 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $1; Sunday, Aug. 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $1
Where: Eagle River Center at the Eagle County Fairgrounds
Details: To learn more or volunteer to help visit TheRummageSale.org.