• Savvy shoppers descend on Minturn

    Savvy shoppers descend on Minturn

    MINTURN, Colorado — The trick for some savvy Rummage Sale shoppers is to have a list and show up early to find the best stuff. And early means before the sun rises — some shoppers were in line as early as 5 a.m.

    For the first time in at least a couple of years, the Eagle Valley Community Fund Auction and Rummage Sale's opening day happened under warm, sunny skies. People drove in from around the state, and some from out-of-state, to snatch up bargains on everything from clothing to sporting goods to furniture to electronics.

    Longtime volunteer and organizer Nancy Nottingham said the weather might have helped make this opening day one of the busiest in the Rummage Sale's 47-year history. She's looking forward to seeing how much money is raised for local nonprofits this year once the sale is over at the end of next weekend. Dedicated Rummage Sale shoppers such as Janette Manke, of Steamboat Springs, are the reason the sale rakes in so much money year after year. Last year's tally was nearly $200,000, and this year it might be topped.

    Byron and Vi Brown have been running the Rummage Sale since 1972, but they have worked at the sale since 1968 and remember the very first sale in 1964. More than 45 years later, Byron said he always plans to quit every year, but Vi won't let him. It's OK, though, because Byron enjoys himself during the event even if the work leading up to it is getting to be a bit much. “It's a regular social gathering of Vail. You see a lot of old faces,” Byron said. “We're all getting older, those of us that are running this, and it's becoming quite a task.”

    Quite a task is right — the volunteers and workers began collecting and organizing items at the old Maloit Park school building on May 16, Nottingham said. The organization is key because it's how shoppers such as Manke can make their moves and find what is on the ever-important list. “The strategy is to have a list that you're developing throughout the year,” Manke said. “You have to decide what room to go into first, what is the most relevant.”

    Manke chose the toy room this year, and her children were pretty happy about that. She then headed around to various rooms looking for items on her list that might be most likely to disappear quickly. Manke said she had no idea how to approach the sometimes overwhelming Rummage Sale the first time she came 10 years ago, but now she's got the routine nailed down. She woke up at 3 a.m. to make it to Minturn by 6 a.m., which is the way to do it, she said.

    Shane and Elisa Walker, of Fort Collins, agreed. They left Fort Collins around 4:30 a.m. to get to Minturn by 7:15 a.m. By 10:30 a.m. they had bags and bags full of various bargains they had found throughout the morning. Elisa Walker, like Manke, also makes a list throughout the year to bring to the Rummage Sale. The Walkers found out about the sale from Shane Walker's boss, and now they wouldn't miss it because they find deals on everything from household items to things for their children.

    And their money goes toward paying the volunteers who have put in thousands of hours all summer to prepare the sale. The workers come from schools and local nonprofits, and everyone gets a piece of the approximately $200,000 pie, pumping the money straight back into the community. “They get a lot more for their little nonprofit groups here than they could go out and get themselves,” Byron Brown said.