With grey skies overhead and dull fall weather all around, the shoppers huddled together outside, ready for the doors to open.
The deals and unique finds inside, they said, made it worth the wait. They came from miles around — driving in from as far away as Calgary, staying in town overnight to guarantee a spot in line — for the bargains they would find on this much-anticipated day.
Black Friday shoppers? Not quite. These people were ready for the start of the annual Kinettes and IODE fall rummage sale, a Stettler tradition dating back to the 1940s.
The two-day sale kicked off on Friday, Sept. 26, with lines forming outside both the Stettler Curling Rink and the Agriplex well ahead of the 9 a.m. opening.
“There’s so much stuff, and it’s a fun place to shop,” said Sonia Sopkiw, who has driven out from Calgary each year for the last five years to attend the sale.
Sopkiw said the sale is a great place to find collectables, books and retro items. A frequent shopper at rummage sales, she said, “This is a good one.”
Doreen Reynolds, who lives 20 miles east of Stettler, agreed with her. She said she’s been coming annually for the last 15 years.
“I like to look around,” she said, adding that there are benefits to showing up early. “The first (ones) in here get a cart to go shopping.”
Reynolds said the sale is attractive to collectors of all sorts of items, explaining, “It’s surprising what you can find.”
Cheryl Barros, who chaired the rummage sale committee with Tanya Derr, said this marked the 71st year for the event, started by the local IODE chapter. The Kinettes combined forces with the club later on and it remains a joint effort.
Barros reported this week that the event raised a total of $42,995 before expenses. Organizers won’t know the final total for several weeks.
Donated items were dropped off throughout the summer, with a yard pickup held the week prior to the sale. Volunteers sorted through the items all week long and would reconvene on Sunday to deal with whatever was left over.
Furniture, hardware, electronics, appliances, and camping and sports equipment were found in the Agriplex, while the curling rink was home to smaller items, including clothes, kitchen supplies, books, toys, games and Christmas decorations.
Barros said there were upwards of 60 volunteers helping out during the sale, along with countless others who helped during the preparation.
“Without volunteers, we just couldn’t pull it off,” she said, describing the week of sorting as “crazy busy” as helpers combed through “mounds and mounds” of donations.
Several volunteer groups, including local sports teams and school groups, will receive donations from the proceeds as thanks for their help.
Stettler Outreach School hosted a barbecue at noon on Friday, while the Heartland Rollergirls Association ran a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning.
Prices were slashed on Saturday as the sale wound down. Shoppers in the curling rink could fill a garbage bag with whatever they wanted for $5, while free bicycles were offered with every purchase in the Agriplex.
Barros said that many leftover items are donated to various groups in need, while others are recycled if possible in order to reduce waste.
Tanya Derr credited the volunteers with keeping the event running smoothly.
“It all came together very well,” she said. “I’m very thankful for the volunteers, for sure . . . it is a madhouse in here.”