New rummage sale in Eagle County plans to return in 2019
EAGLE — During its 53-year history, the Eagle Valley Community Fund Rummage Sale equipped thousands of kids for sports ranging from skiing to skateboarding, supplied scads of college-bound students with their dorm decor and generally provided everything from clothing to housewares to treasure-hunting shoppers every summer.
So when it looked like the sale was ending its five-decade run last year, a group of locals decided that just couldn’t happen. Then they set to work to make sure it didn’t.
Last summer the sale was held during a single September weekend at the Eagle River Center at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. Flush with the success of its initial effort, organizers of the new Rummage Sale of Eagle County would like to return to that venue in 2019. This week they shared success stories and made that request to the Eagle County commissioners.
Old mission, new sale
“The seed that started the new rummage sale happened at the Vail Public Library and it happened at our service desk … talking about how they lost their location and what is going to happen?” said Lori Barnes, the director of the Vail Public Library.
For decades, the sale had been staged at the former Battle Mountain High School at Maloit Park. But in 2018, Eagle County Schools notified the sale organizers of the plan to raze the building to make way for a temporary Red Sandstone Elementary School campus. The elementary school had to evacuate its existing building so crews could rebuild at the site.
The new sale iteration is different than the historic event, but its core mission has remained the same — provide the community with a place to donate unwanted items and then provide local non-profits with an opportunity to have volunteers wok the event and earn money for their organizations.
During Tuesday’s discussion with the county commissioners, Rebecca Kanaly, the executive director of United Way of the Eagle River Valley, said the organization she represents was a natural partner for the new rummage sale effort.
“A jewel of the valley, the rummage sale was a way for the community to give both its goods and its time,” Kanaly said. “When they lost their location, everything changed.”
Those changes included the collections operation — which happened over months under the previous sale model.
“The location was 17 rooms deep. It goes without saying it has been practically impossible to find a new property that is that big, for free,” Kanaly said.
Without a large location where items could be stored, weeks and weeks of collection wasn’t possible. Instead, five churches in the valley offered their parking lots as collection sites for six Sundays prior to the sale. Kanaly said six families stepped forward with their pickup trucks to shuttle the donated items to Eagle. Other volunteers helped to move the inventory inside the Eagle River Center.
While the organizers of the new sale couldn’t find a location to match the size of the Maloit Park site, the county commissioners agreed to match the price. The Eagle River Center charges for use and even nonprofit groups are asked to help cover the costs associated with putting down the temporary floor for special events. However, noting that the rummage sale benefits a number of community nonprofits, the commissioners agreed to waive the facility rental fee last year for the event.
“It allowed us to give back many thousands of dollars to the community, which otherwise would have been spent renting a spot,” Kanaly said.
In the end, the sale generated $22,404 with 182 volunteers working a total of 3,325 hours. Kanaly said the Eagle River Center turned out to be a perfect spot for the sale.
“The old building that it used to be in was a bit worn,” she said, adding that attendees enjoyed the convenient location and parking
Kanaly said the rummage sale collections filled the Eagle River Center and once the event was over, the remaining inventory was first offered t0 local charities. She said a large shipment was then sent to a charity that operates in an African village on the Ivory Coast. Finally, a single storage unit has been rented to hold items that will return to the sale floor in 2019.
Which brought her to the subject of this year’s sale. Barnes made the formal request to again use for the Eagle River Center — at no charge — for the 2019 sale. The planned dates for the 2019 sale are Friday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Sept. 15.
“For right now, that seems to be the best solution,” Kanaly said.
The commissioners noted that the discussion was listed as a work session not a decision item on their agenda and deferred making a commitment about the Eagle River Center request. But they did offer their compliments.
“The sale is such a long-time, historic event, so to reinvent it is a labor of love,” Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry said.