Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy 21st Birthday UDLC Flea Market

Most 21st birthday's start a lot different than the Upper Dublin Lutheran Church Flea Market, but not many impact as many people in such a positive way and involve as many people.  The funny thing is this 21st birthday is as much fun for the young ones through all of our seasoned Upper Dublin Lutheran veterans.

So, now if this were a movie, we would have a flashback.  You know where the world gets smokey and we can look back on 1990 and see the very first one and end up commenting about hair styles, music, and the clothing we wore.  Now let's be honest this blog is pretty awesome, but it can not control time and space. 

However, it can find pretty old school photos if provoked of members choosing to challenge those of us who post these entries (just kidding, kind of...).

So where did this amazing idea come from?  Who is to credit for such a program who would give blood, sweat, and sometimes tears?  WELL CALM DOWN AND IF YOU STOP ASKING THESE QUESTIONS AND KEEP READING I AM SURE WE WILL ANSWER THEM.

The flea market started 21 years ago when Dianne Schueller wanted to generate some funds for local charities. She realized that no one has flea markets in February. February has not been the same at UDLC since.  Now, we all know Dianne and let’s be honest, when Dianne has an idea and decides to make it happen...IT HAPPENS.  She is a real treasure to UDLC, just look at the gardens all spring, summer, and fall she makes the church look.  Now, when this first started, little did we know that it would grow to be as large as it has grown? Every year, if all went well, you would never know we had a flea market hosting hundreds of people, making thousands of dollars because nothing is left. Some workers go out to dinner together, some go home and crash but the flea market is always a church team effort and a job well done.

Now, this does not happen overnight.  Even given the fact people look for it all the time, people begin to think about it as soon as summer.  UDLC members start asking the Sunday after Christmas when the flea market will be. It is always a good way to remind people to save those gently used items they may get replaced at Christmas to help benefit others. Outdoor signs advertising the market are sent to the sign store for a yearly re-numbering in January and the metal frames are driven into the ground whenever the soil is thawed. Signs are attached to the frames usually on a cold and windy day making the job so much fun.

45 tables are reserved in January from a rental company for a week along with Janet Waechter taking over publicity and she makes sure the advertisements are in the local papers and on the scrolling billboard at the bank in Ambler. Janet also prepares a display of the outreach of the chosen recipients so everyone can learn about these charities.

Set up starts the Monday before with packing EVERYTHING (LITERALLY...EVERYTHING) from the Jr. and Sr. High rooms into the senior high room along with the piano, divider screens, lecterns and anything loose in Fellowship Hall. Monday night someone takes pictures of the Sunday school rooms that will be used so the furniture can be returned to its original lay out.

After that is finished, 45 tables are arranged in Fellowship Hall and in 2 – 3 Sunday school classrooms and for the 2nd year in the new multi-purpose room.  Shelving and other display aids are put in place. Signs are hung over the tables for a general indication of where items will go.

Tuesday – Thursday 9AM – 9 PM is drop off for donors, and marking, pricing and sorting for the workers. EVERYTHING gets a masking tape price tag and is priced at 1/10th to ¼ of retail price.

“Departments” at the flea market depend in what is donated but in general we have:
Jewelry, kitchen wares, dishes, flatware, mugs, glasses, wine glasses (including Build to Serve mugs), linens, holiday items, tools, CDs tapes, record albums, sporting goods, craft items, games, puzzles, gardening supplies, tons of books, small appliances, pet items, frames, posters and artwork; candles, small furniture, children’s toys, clothes and equipment, baby toys clothes and equipment, books and computers and software.

This is the 2nd year we will accept computers. Computers are donated to a company in Ephrata that takes them apart and reassembles parts into a working computer for people needing computers. This is another outreach from UDLC to the community.   Jewelry room workers do the tedious work of untangling chains and pricing each tiny piece. Linen workers measure each textile piece (single bed, double queen etc) and mark and price it.  Someone is busy on a laptop looking up values for any collectible item we may have received. We try to price those higher than other items yet still under the going price so someone can get a deal and we will still sell the item. Who knew that a rubber Playtex girdle in the original package sells for $60?! Some flea market workers know that!

Life goes on in UDLC the week of the flea market, while it can be quite stressful and confusing to those who show up to a space that is in use looking for a meeting. The nursery school teachers do a tremendous job of keeping “life as normal” in their classrooms, even though little notice everything 2 – 4 year old eyes DO see those tempting piles of toys in the downstairs hallway. Kathleen and Theresa, in the office make sure all the groups who use spaces now taken up by tables know the new meeting rooms and help make last minute changes. These two are unsung heroes who also live through this chaotic week in mostly silent observation.

On Friday, the flea market has to be totally priced and no more donations are accepted. The tables for the cashiers are set up, Bruce Waechter makes a trip to the bank so the cashier’s tills can be set up and the floor is vacuumed. A group of people make a sweep to make sure like items are priced the same. Nothing is uglier than 2 people fighting over the same cooler with one marked $2 and one marked $5 on the morning of the flea market. A “Martha Stewart” team comes in Friday afternoon and makes “vignettes” displays. Displaying our stuff attractively has upped our sales. Of course, the displays do not last long come Saturday.

We also contact the Upper Dublin Police department to give them a heads up of Saturday traffic and they are kind enough to sweep through the parking lot the week of the flea market for added security.

Saturday morning is a Cecil B. DeMille production. Cashiers, bouncers, (stair way is down only, please, no strollers,), floor people who rearrange the stuff, bring items under the table to the top of the table, catechism students help customers out to their cars with purchases and oh-so-nicely tell people then cannot come in the side doors. Kitchen workers, (who are responsible to set the year’s menu and make plans to purchase the necessary ingredients and supplies) have fired up the ovens, crock posts, and warming trays for the hungry masses. Thank you David and Charlie for doing this for so long!

Our pastor(s) are there Saturday morning to greet our flea market guests as they rush in. 

THEN THE SALE STARTS! Deals are struck, treasures are found, and those people who made room in their house with donations often find themselves giving new homes to the perfect item found in the maze of household items, electronics, Christmas decorations, or toys.

Saturday afternoon a brand new team comes in and ALL leftovers get boxed (only boxes with a lid please) and packed in the waiting panel truck. Past years have seen John Weiss pushing the driver in the driver’s side so he can squeeze in since the front was also filled. The church is vacuumed and everything from the senior high room is returned to its place and tables are put back to their original position in the Sunday school rooms.

Recipients of our unsold items are contacted and arrangements made although things don’t always end up just as planned. Nothing like having a ton of boxes awaiting the arrival of a truck that never comes! This has happened! The recipients of our leftovers constantly change due to their situations – lucky New Life Thrift Store likes our stuff and we like them. New Life thrift uses their proceeds for charity.

Now, that you know what is going on at UDLC this week when you show up, perhaps a few other people should be recognized for their work. Bill and Kathy James spend hours helping getting the church setup, volunteers in place, setup and tear down complete (not to mention giving us details for this blog entry), and all of this after working all day. We have dozens of setup volunteer adults, teens, Tweens, neighbors, community members young and old, and at times a pastor has even been seen up there lending a hand before shopping!

Oh and once the sale is done and smoke has cleared. The church is reset for Sunday morning and we celebrate the great time we all had, the charities end up receiving between $3,000 and $5,000 for their ministry.

Now, if you got all upset because we told you to wait and we probably will answer your question and now are more annoyed because something is still unanswered I can get you those answers. Just show up on Tuesday - Thursday to help setup or volunteer to help Saturday and ask around while you maybe meet members you may have never run across otherwise.

Oh and if anyone finds a 1st edition of "Lake Wobegon Days" Pastor Lawlor will pay you back! ;-)

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