The sale features new and used clothing, skis, snowboards, snowshoes, and other winter sports equipment for children and adults. The goods, enough to fill the elementary school gymnasium and library, come from local ski shops, a traveling equipment vendor, and local residents. But, although the sale is one of the club’s biggest fundraisers, the items offered for sale aren’t donations, they’re sold on consignment. “The sellers get 70% and the Rotary Club gets 30%,” says organizer Cheryl Rothman. “It’s not only a fundraiser, but it’s also a community service. Kids and adults can get everything they need at a good price. Families can sell the last season’s stuff that kids have outgrown, and get a whole new set of stuff for this season.”
Anyone interested in selling winter sports or clothing items at the one-day sale can stop at Twin Valley Elementary School between 3 and 6 pm on Friday, November 8. Sellers can name their own prices, although Rotary Club volunteers can offer suggestions for anyone who hasn’t been keeping up on market prices for used winter gear. The Rotary Club provides tags, tagging guns, and Rotary volunteers handle the sales – sellers don’t even have to show up on sale day.
Organizer Kelly Pawlak says buyers can find a lot of amazing bargains at the sale, a lot of new and barely used equipment and clothing. Buyers are often lined up at the entrance before 9 am waiting for the doors to open. But buyers looking for bargains might want to return at 1pm, for the “blue dot” sale, when items with a blue sticker go on sale for 50% off. “The early bird gets the worm,” says Pawlak, “but a lot of the really good deals come at the end of the day.”
Pawlak says whatever doesn’t sell and doesn’t get picked up by consignees, either gets donated or passed along to valley “elves” to enjoy. “Any of the clothes that don’t get picked up and are in good shape we donate to Twice Blessed,” she says. “Sometimes we get stuck with some really old and outdated stuff, but we’ve found that if you put them out in front of the school in a box that says ‘free,’ there are secret elves that come and take them – usually by the next morning.”
Although the ski and skate sale has been an annual Rotary Club event for the past several years, it’s been around for decades, and Rothman has been involved since she worked with the original organizers, Bruce and Arlene Levinson, owners of the Cupola. “It was Arlene that sucked me into it,” Rothman jokes. “I got rid of it for about two years, but when the Rotary was looking for a fundraiser, I suggested we start it again.”
For many years, the sale featured stock from most of the local ski shops. At that time it attracted so many people from around southern Vermont that the sale ran for two days, and shoppers were lined up at 7:30 am.
Most of the money raised through the sale stays in the Deerfield Valley to fund local Rotary projects, Pawlak says, although a portion of the money goes to Rotary International’s projects around the world. “We may help fund a kid who is going to Haiti to help improve water quality, or it may be as significant as buying a couple of shelter boxes after a disaster.” The shelter boxes contain a complete emergency survival package, including a tent and stove, at a cost of about $1,000 each, Pawlak explains. “We helped with Tropical Storm Relief, and last year we helped with Hurricane Sandy relief.”
Rotary’s local projects include their Garden of Hope project to celebrate local cancer survivors in valley towns and the RISE program, which promotes peace through education for children.