CASA GRANDE -- Lupe Corrales held up a blouse. She was browsing through racks of clothes inside Casa Grande Valley Elks Lodge 1957.
It was the second day of the lodge’s annual rummage sale. Clothes were half-off. So was everything else.
Corrales was shopping for her sister, who lives in Texas.
“She’s been ill,” Corrales said.
Corrales is something of a rummage-sale regular. She tries to shop it most every year.
“I like the fact they do it as a fundraiser,” she said.
Rummage sale proceeds go toward a shopping trip for children in need. Last year, 25 children shopped for new clothes and shoes. In past trips, the Elks made arrangements with stores like JCPenney. Proceeds also pay for holiday food baskets. Again, for families in need.
This year’s rummage sale ran the weekend of Nov. 9-10. I spoke to Corrales on Sunday the 10th.
It isn’t just that the money goes for good causes. It’s the good deals, Corrales said. You can walk out with a bag of clothes for $3.
I asked about her sister’s illness. She had cancer last year, Corrales said. She’s in remission now. Corrales has been sending her clothes on and off.
“When we can,” she said. “Because she’s lost so much weight, we’re trying to help her out.”
Corrales can relate. She’s a cancer survivor herself, also in remission.
“Last year was not a good year for us,” she added.
This year things are better. She plans to visit her sister in March. She’ll bring better-fitting clothes.
The rummage sale has drawn Corrales and other bargain-hunters since … well, I don’t know. A long time anyway.
“Before I became a member,” JeRay Bellon said. “And I’ve been a member over 15 years.”
He’s also a past exalted ruler.
I spoke to him outside, in front of the whitewashed lodge. Cars on Florence Boulevard sped by. Bellon was watching over some of the larger items. Furniture, golf clubs, an electric range. His wife Nita was helping out. She held a rolled-up item. It was a portable camp table.
“You’re supposed to sell this, too,” Nita said.
Bellon nodded. And mentioned, in passing, that earlier they had sold a camping toilet. Sanitized, he added.
A few minutes later I met Deborah Ramsey. She’s run the rummage sale for the past six years. As we spoke, a woman walked by. She had wanted an upright cabinet. Not finding one, she returned to her van.
Ramsey wondered if she might have liked the dresser. It came with two large mirrors. It had been left outside.
“Somebody picked it up last night,” Ramsey said. “That’s OK, if they needed it.”
The sale, after all, is about helping the needy.
The overhead is low in any case. All the items are donated, including the furniture.
“I’ve picked up furniture for people who have moved out of state or … out of Casa Grande,” Ramsey said. “They call me and I pick up their furniture.”
Furniture that doesn’t sell is sometimes left out for drive-by shoppers. As for foot traffic, it was down for the moment.
This wasn’t the case first-thing Saturday, Ramsey said. Then it was more like Black Friday.
“We had a line of about 100 people outside, waiting to get in when we opened.”
When you’re looking for deals, it pays to be early.
Xevon Williams and Danielle Wilson were in no hurry. They showed up Sunday.
Williams was dressed in camouflage but volunteered that he wasn’t a serviceman. He just liked the look.
“We saw the rummage sale, so we pulled in,” he said.
“It was much bigger than we expected,” Wilson added.
Racks of clothing and tables of gifts filled an entire meeting hall.
Williams and Wilson shopped for clothes. After they browsed a while, I asked if they had found anything they liked.
“Yeah, I like pink,” Wilson said. “I got a whole bunch of pink shirts.”
At $3 a bag, a whole bunch adds up.
Nearby tables held collections of goods in no particular order. Picture frames, vases, candle holders, gifts, games and an assortment of toys.
The toys won’t stay long, Ramsey said.
“I’m probably going to take them out to the street in a few minutes and put ‘free’ on them,” she said.
Some things begged the question: What do they do?
Bill Smith ventured a guess with one such item. Smith is a lodge member helping out with the sale. He held up a gadget consisting of a 10-inch wire strung across a pair of metal posts. I said it looked like a cheese cutter.
“I’m really thinking it’s a cake cutter,” Smith said.
Ramsey chimed in. “That’s a cheese cutter.”
Smith: “No it isn’t.”
Ramsey: “You could probably use it for cake, too.”
Sometimes diplomacy is the best answer.
As morning neared noon, more shoppers pulled in. It was the after-church crowd. By 1, the sale would be over.
By Christmas, all the work of Elks Lodge 1957 will have paid off. Kids will have shopped for clothing at a department store. Families will have received food baskets.
And next March, a sister in Texas will have something new to wear.