The pandemic has hastened the development of many things that otherwise might have taken a bit longer to get to – such as virtual schooling, Zoom meetings and, now, a spring Bargain Fair.
“This has been a goal of Charity League for several years,” Bargain Fair chair Samantha Martin said. “With COVID we were not able to make as much money” as usual, so this was the perfect time to take on a spring Bargain Fair.
Bargain Fair is the signature annual fundraiser of Charity League, which supports programs and scholarships for children and teenagers in the Martinsville area.
For many years, Bargain Fair was staged each October at the National Guard Armory. Everything that makes up Bargain Fair, from shelves to clothing racks to the merchandise itself, was stored in on the third floor of Burr Fox’s warehouse on Koehler Road.
Charity League members would spend most of the year collecting and storing donations. Each summer, they would spend several sessions in the hot warehouse sorting and pricing sale items.
For the entire week of Bargain Fair, they would work every night, hauling the racks, shelves and items from the warehouse to the armory to set up for the sale, somehow finding the time to make homemade baked goods for the bake sale as well. On the Saturday of Bargain Fair many members would spend about 12 hours, from 7 a.m. until all the merchandise was gone, the armory clean and the shelves and racks returned to the warehouse.
A few years ago, the city stopped renting out the armory for public events. The suddenly homeless Bargain Fair searched for sites, including a year or two at the old plant below the Clocktower and once in the shopping center between Memorial Boulevard and Fayette Street.
Two years ago, the group settled on 242 Franklin St. – which became its permanent home. Henry County GIS records list the owner of the 11,700-square-foot brick building as The Lester Group.
Now all the racks, shelves and merchandise can remain put and not have to be hauled back and forth. This allows for a much more efficient process, Martin said.
This sale will follow the standard pattern, from an 8 a.m. start to a bag sale shortly before the 2 p.m., Martin said. With the bag sale, people can get everything that can fit into a paper bag for $1.
Items for sale this time include a Perfect Flame six-burner propane grill, a double-door refrigerator, a treadmill, window blinds with wide blades, several bowling balls and an assortment of Christmas trees. That’s all on top of the usual upholstered furniture, case goods, clothing, toys, holiday items, linens, books, kitchen supplies, household goods, exercise equipment and more.
Only 50 people will be allowed inside at a time, Martin said. Masks will be required, hand sanitizer will be available, and the cashiers will be protected behind Plexiglas screens.
That’s more people allowed inside this time than during the October sale, Martin said, and they won’t be checking people’s temperatures this time.
The fall Bargain Fair raised about $7,000, which is normal for the actual Saturday sale, Martin said, though Charity League lost opportunities to make money on related fundraising it normally does around the same time. That’s what they are hoping to make up for this time.
Kara Jo Gilley is the president of Charity League, and Brittany Scott is the vice chair of Bargain Fair.
All proceeds “benefit the children of Martinsville and Henry County, and we would love for everyone to come out and shop with us,” Gilley said. “All the money stays local.”
Holly Kozelsky reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org