The biggest darn garage sale of the year is on its way.
And if you want to make sure to get the best of the best, be in line at at Kitsap County Fairgrounds early on Saturday morning.
It’s the annual RAGS (Rotary Annual Garage Sale) and the doors open at 8 a.m.
“We sing the National Anthem and then we open the doors,” said Rotarian Danny Brown. “The people just come pouring in.”
Just as they have every year since 1995, the Kitsap County Rotary Clubs come together this week for their annual garage sale. The pavilion at the fairgrounds, the Van Zee Building and portions of the parking lot, will be filled to the brim with just about anything imaginable.
Participating clubs include the Silverdale Sunrise, the Silverdale Noon, the Bremerton, the East Bremerton and the South Kitsap Rotary clubs. Whatever proceeds are earned will be split among the clubs to be used for projects that benefit local communities.
Brown has been involved in RAGS for 13 years and has been chairman the past three years.
“It has two great purposes,” he said. “It helps us earn money that we use in the community to support students, and it is a great place for community members to get things they need for a great price.”
Last year’s sale generated about $35,000, Brown said. Each of the five participating clubs took home $5,000 which most used for scholarships for high school students and for other educational projects.
About $10,000 was kept on reserve to help with the set up costs for this year’s sale.
In all, 150 volunteers work the sale on Saturday. And many of them also help out throughout the week leading up to the sale, taking in donations and sorting goods.
“We have rotary members and their spouses who help us,” said Jerry Garner, of the Bremerton Rotary, noting that both women and men can belong to the Rotary.
And then there’s folks like Stan Webb and Vicki Bess. Webb’s been around for several years and has a background in electronics. He doesn’t belong to Rotary, but he donates his time to check out the televisions, stereos and DVD players. He makes sure they work and if they don’t he tries to get them working before the sale.
“I’m just helping out,” Webb said. “This is a good thing for the community and if I can help, I want to.”
Although he hadn’t seen any big screen TVs come in by noon on Wednesday, he said there were several good TVs on hand and most were newer.
“Few years back, I had one from the 1950s,” he said. “Now that’s a TV.”
Bess began helping out with the RAGS sale about three years ago. She lives nearby and stopped in to find that a crew that day was throwing out a lot of plastic flowers and other decorations.
“I asked them why and they said they didn’t think they would sell,” Bess said. “So I told them ‘Give them to me and I’ll put them together in arrangements and those will sell.’”
Indeed they did. And now she comes back every year to create crafty things that have helped the Rotary to the tune of about $300 each year.
The Rotarians said the sale would not be possible without community support. Several local businesses donate food to serve the workers throughout the set-up week and on the day of the sale. Other businesses like Silverdale Cyclery repair bicycles so they can be sold.
For those who are interested in big ticket items, there’s a special corner where the more valuable items are priced accordingly. Silverdale Rotarian Chuck Kraining said this year he’s seen a lot more silver items come in, and he’s seen some first edition books that date back to 1905.
“We look out for those kind of things and then we have some experts who can help us price them right,” he said.
Kraining often works the shoe section and was surprised during his first year to find them to be very popular.
“The doors opened and people came running to the shoes,” he said. “It caught me off guard.”
Later, he learned that some shoppers were purchasing shoes to be sent to family members in poorer foreign countries.
“They’d buy bags of them, and then box them up and ship them off,” he said.
Brown said many local families rely on the sale for good clothing for their kids. He also said anything leftover after the sale is donated to other local nonprofits that distribute the items to the needy. Furniture and home goods are given to Habitat for Humanity.
Items are priced to sell, the Rotary officials said. But if things aren’t moving, they’ll make announcements and cut prices.
“Usually by noon, things go for half price,” Brown said. “And then an hour later, we sell things for a bag price.”
The sale includes a silent auction in which bids are written on sheets that accompany items. Silent auctions end at 9, 9:45 and 10:45 a.m. Brown said if there are three or four people trying to out-bid each other on something, the item might be snagged for a short vocal auction on the spot.
“That makes it more fair to all the people who want the item,” he said. “We just tell them ahead that the item will go up by $5 until we’re left with only one bidder.”
As for surprises, they’ve had them. There have been a few years when really valuable items have come through the door, including a rare book.
“It was an early version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” said Brown. “A guy told us we had something that might be worth more than the $2 that was on it and he handed us a $100 bill.”
But thus far, they haven’t found the million-dollar find.
“We haven’t ever seen a Renoir walk through the door,” said Kraining. “But we’d love that.”
IF YOU GO:
There is no preview. Shoppers can arrive before the 8 a.m. opening, but be prepared to wait outdoors. Sale hours are April 12, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Kitsap Fairgrounds is located at 1200 Fairgrounds Road NW, Bremerton. There is free parking. For more go to www.ragsauction.org, or call 360-917-1240.