Junior League of Savannah saying farewell to annual thrift sale after 75 years

Lampshades are just one of the items on sale at the sixty-fourth annual Junior League Thrift Sale at the Civic Center. (Photo Courtesy of Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

Credit: Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News

Lampshades are just one of the items on sale at the sixty-fourth annual Junior League Thrift Sale at the Civic Center. (Photo Courtesy of Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

Attention Savannah-area bargain hunters: This year’s annual thrift sale sponsored by the Junior League of Savannah will be the last one in the sale’s 75-year history and the organization’s nearly 100 years of existence.

The organization’s last sale is set for Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hellenic Center, 14 W. Anderson St.

The League’s decision to dispense with the sales is “absolutely heartbreaking” for League member and Realtor Chelsea Phillips, who has worked on sales for seven years.

“I have so many clients and friends who have furnished their homes, clothed their little ones and gotten their holiday stuff together because of the thrift sale,” she said.

League President Jennifer Wise said several factors contributed to the demise of future sales.

“In recent years, we have noticed that the lack of a consistent venue has impacted the visibility and consequently, the profitability of the sale,” she said, adding “which lessens the funds that we are able to put back into the community.”

Toys are a part of the annual Junior League of Savannah thrift sale fundraiser, shown in this 2018 photo. The 2021 in-person sale will be Oct. 22-24.

Credit: COREY BROOKS

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Credit: COREY BROOKS

Through the years, the sale has been in many locations, including the fairgrounds, the old Builderama building on East Victory Drive, the former Levy’s Department Store and the Savannah Civic Center.

Additionally, Wise said the approximately 100 active members of The League “put an incredible amount of time and effort into the event, including donating and obtaining, sorting, and individually pricing thousands of items, then working shifts on sale days and cleaning up.”

Wise explained that members “took a step back, had some honest conversations … and really considered whether the sale was serving the purpose it once did.” The membership voted at the end of the 2022-23 League year to make this year’s sale the last.

The League’s mission is to “provide meaningful community impact through volunteerism and financial support for needs in the community,” including work with Park Place, Done in a Day Projects, Community Assistance Funds, and Kids Who Care Scholarships.

Shopper Margie Holland Miles remembers buying a library table and a lawyer’s bookcase for $10 and $15, respectively, at the sale 51 years ago.

“I’m still enjoying them now,” she added.

Junior League of Savannah members are shown volunteering during the 2018 thrift sale.

Credit: COREY BROOKS

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Credit: COREY BROOKS

Longtime League member Julia Jones Williams said the best deal she found was a vintage alligator purse with a Saks Fifth Avenue label inside.

“Paid $20 for it and used it for years,” she said. Williams was a prize girl one year, which meant she had to bring in a certain dollar amount of merchandise in order to get out of working a required pricing shift and be eligible for a prize.

“The prize that I qualified for was a brand new, hand-smocked baby girl's pink dress that (her daughter Molly) ended up wearing when she was 1,” she recalled. “It was donated back to the sale when she outgrew it.”

The theme of this year's sale, chaired by Meredith Halloran, is The Heart of the League and “exemplifies how the event has helped serve the Savannah-area community for 75 years,” Wise pointed out. “That service is the heart of our Junior League mission. We will focus this year on celebrating all that thrift sale has meant to the community and to the League.Following this year’s sale, Wise said the League will “spend time reflecting on our community work, much of which has been supported over the years by thrift sale proceeds, and settling on a new fundraising initiative that will energize our members and will strategically align with the community focus area our members will choose this year.”

The establishment of the Junior League of Savannah dates to 1926 when it was accepted as a part of the Association of Junior Leagues of America.

Polly Powers Stramm is a regular contributing columnist to the Savannah Morning News. Contact Polly at 912-657-3877 orpollparrot@aol.com.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Junior League of Savannah saying farewell to annual thrift sale after 75 years


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