How the Auction Works: A Story
Hello! My name is Rockie. I am a 37-year-old rocking chair. Until last June, I was the guardian of a room first used as a bedroom for children, and then as a comfortable retreat for house guests and a temporary storage space for items my owners said were destined for a mystical event called the Bainbridge Island Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale. I loved the years I spent waiting for the children to come home from school and use me for everything from a messy clothes rack to the preferred location for secret conversations with their friends. I also liked the occasional guests who always remarked on my comfort and beauty. However, what interested me most was welcoming other pieces of furniture, clothing, musical instruments, dishes, books, and other items my owners didn’t need any more into my space where they waited, sometimes for months, for a trip to the Auction & Rummage Sale. To be honest, I envied them when they left because I had outlived my usefulness to my owners, and wanted a new adventure.
In June, my dream came true! On a Friday morning, my owners loaded me and a lot of other items into the back of their SUV and drove to a place called Woodward Middle School. As the vehicle approached the school’s south gate entrance, it was stopped by a very friendly woman who thanked my owners for coming, checked to see if they had any items that could not be accepted or for which there was a drop-off fee, and instructed them to proceed to a place she called the “Curb.”
The Curb was an exciting place! Imagine my amazement when I saw our vehicle was not alone. Instead, we were at the end of a line of vehicles waiting patiently to offload their contents. When we reached the drop-off point, my owners were again thanked for their donations as the vehicle’s doors were opened by several very eager people who, in a minute or two, transferred everything to a table. As they lifted me from the car, I overheard a man wearing a Rotary ball cap tell my owners that, in the next six days, four thousand vehicles would drop off more than 100,000 items. Wow!
SORTING AND IDENTIFYING DONATIONS
What happens next borders on the miraculous. For twelve hours each day, dozens of people at the Curb tirelessly sort through and identify all manner of donated items, and carry them to close-by collection areas maintained by the Auction & Rummage Sale’s 35 Departments. There, they are sorted again by Department representatives, and those items deemed worthy of display are placed in all manner of transport devices and whisked off by dozens of other people to the different departments located inside and outside the school building. There, they are received and sorted again by still more people who work a total of 8 days setting up the Departments. Those items not deemed worthy for display go to the “Lawn of Opportunity” where members of the event’s Green Team work to recycle rather than dispose of them.
SETTING UP THE DEPARTMENTS
In short order, one of the more than 100 Rotarians and 1,100 volunteers who work at the Auction & Rummage Sale picked me up and carried me to the Fine Furniture Department located in a tent in the school’s south parking lot. Here I was thoroughly evaluated, found to be well built, clean and in very good condition, and placed in a holding area with other chairs.
As I sat in the holding area, I observed two dozen people working purposely to convert the tented area into a classy showroom. From my perch in the tent, I could see similar efforts underway in the Sporting Goods, Furniture & Large Appliances, Outdoor Power Equipment, Pet Supplies, and Lawn & Garden Departments that circled the tent in the south parking lot.
Day after day, hundreds of people spread out across the school campus doing the work of the Auction & Rummage Sale – receiving, sorting, cleaning, repairing, testing, and displaying the items for sale. Twice each day, they gathered for lunch and dinner in the school’s cafeteria, and throughout each day they interacted with each other renewing old, and making new, friendships.
On the Wednesday before the Auction & Rummage Sale, I was placed in a very nice bedroom display within the tent, and noticed the concerted effort that was underway to set a price on me and every other item for sale in the tent. As they placed a price tag on me, I reflected on my original purchase price and the only words that came to my mind were “what a bargain!”
The night before the Auction & Rummage Sale, this point of view was reinforced by the attendees of Preview Night who walked by our display, pointed at me, and said “we need to get here very early tomorrow morning if we want that beautiful rocking chair!”
AUCTION & RUMMAGE SALE DAY
On Auction & Rummage Sale day, the overnight peace of the tent was interrupted at 6 am with the arrival of the Rotarians and volunteers that would be working from 8 AM until 2 PM selling items to the event’s customers. As they moved around making last minute adjustments to the displays and talking about their work, I could feel their building excitement.
A few minutes before 8 am, I heard the National Anthem over a loud speaker system. At the last note, I was startled to hear loud shouts and feel the ground rumble as thousands of shoppers stormed the Woodward campus. Within seconds, people began running into the tent and heading toward the items they wanted to purchase.
My new owners gripped my arms at 8:07 am, and happily paid an Auction & Rummage Sale Cashier my bargain basement asking price. When the transaction was completed, I was lifted and carried out the tent toward a place called “Treasure Check.” Here I was watched over by friendly Auction & Rummage Sale workers while my new family set off in search of other bargains to purchase.
My wait wasn’t too long. At 10:00 am, the school gates were opened for vehicles to pick up purchased items. Soon thereafter, I was retrieved, handed over to my new owners, and carried to a nearby SUV for the journey to my new home. As I was loaded into the vehicle, I chuckled because I joined a crowd of other items that looked remarkably similar to the ones that accompanied me to Woodward Middle School 8 days ago!
A NEW HOME!
Now, I am back in a beautiful house, and sitting in the corner of a different bedroom. Each afternoon, a wonderful 8-year-old girl enters the room, throws her coat over one of my outstretched arms, and sits to have one of those confidential cell phone conversations with a friend. She’s happy…and so am I!