Everybody loves a bargain. Back in a time when Americans didn't so openly admit that, the Junior League of Winston Salem, North Carolina began The Rummage Sale. Started in1954, the event became a tradition lasting 60 years.
This two-day sale created a local marketplace. A communal moment of commerce. A rare thing in the era of big box stores and on-line purchases.
Many residents first attended the rummage sale as children... pushed in strollers, jam packed with purchases.
Winston-Salem is a hyphenated city in many ways. There are haves and have nots, white people and people of color, the east side and the west. But when it comes to rummage, everybody unites to experience the weird rush of thrift shopping.
Loving someone else's something is a strange, sport-like pursuit. People bond over a metal frog, or an oversized banana, or a prom gown. It's hand-to-hand shopping. Scrappy. Messy. Some called it, "Stinky Shopping."
Katherine Smith Reynolds started the local league in 1923. It was North Carolina’s first Junior League. She was the wife of tobacco tycoon, R-J Reynolds, and the city’s wealthiest woman, and most influential.
The original junior league was an elite, all white, white glove affair. Giving women of privilege agency in the world beyond their homes. Eleanor Roosevelt was a member.
Today Winston-Salem has 925 members. But the same rummage rules apply. Everyone must contribute to the sale.
The event has been their biggest fundraiser. During its peak, profits hit $100 thousand, with all funds invested back into the community. Childhood literacy is their latest initiative.
After profits - and energy - for the sale dropped, members decided that two-thousand- fourteen would be the end. It was our last chance to attend (The Final Rummage) sale.
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