The supply chain is fully intact for the Attic Angel Association.
There are storage facilities filled with sofas, lounge chairs, end tables and appliances. One room holds plastic bins with tangles of watches, necklaces and other jewelry, while another area is crammed with dishes and cookware, golf clubs, lamps and a bevy of other household goods.
There is plenty of inventory for this year’s installment of the Attic Angel Sale, a massive rummage sale set for June 3 and 4 at Keva Sports Center in Middleton. The challenge is in the sheer volume of items.
This is the first sale since 2019. But even though the 2020 and 2021 sales were canceled due to the pandemic, the donations continued. And that has left the 75 to 80 volunteers, who divide into teams to sort, clean, repair and price the items, with more work than usual.
The upside is that this could be the largest sale in the nonprofit’s history and raise more than $100,000.
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“It’s been amazing,” said Terry Mouchayleh, one of the co-chairs of the sale. “It’s really three years of donations instead of one full year. I know we have more furniture than we’ve ever had. We have more (collectibles and knickknacks), we have more household (items). It’s been a little insane.”
The spring sale was originally called the Treasure Sale and took place in 1961 in the home of an Attic Angel volunteer. But as the sale grew, it quickly moved to larger venues, including Edgewood High School, High Point Church and, in 2016, to Keva, 8312 Forsythia St.
Since 1983, Attic Angel Association has given more than $7.1 million in grants and gifts to over 150 nonprofit organizations that serve children and older adults in Dane County.
Proceeds from this year’s sale, which also includes books, crafts, artwork, garden and patio items, hardware and tools, and toys, will benefit several organizations working with children and families in need of housing in Dane County. Contributing to the organized chaos this year is the compacted effort to ready the items for the sale. Typically it’s a yearlong effort, but, because of the pandemic, much of the work to prepare for the sale didn’t really begin until February.
“In previous years, we’ve had large packs of volunteers come and help, but we kept the numbers in smaller groups this year,” said Jane Findlat, another co-chair of the event, that is considered Dane County’s largest resale. “A lot of people are excited that (the sale) is back. It’s part of the Madison culture.”
The end result of that preparation will be on display from 8 to 11 a.m. June 3, with $10 tickets on sale beginning at 7 a.m., when shoppers, who often arrive early and stand in line, will get first crack at some of the best items in the sale. After that, admission is free from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 3 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 4. Prices will be reduced for the June 4 sale, with a bag sale set from noon to 1 p.m. in which grocery bags can be filled with as many items as possible for just $5.
Much of the merchandise comes from the homes of Attic Angel Association members and their families, residents throughout Dane County and area retail stores that donate new items. Customers come from throughout the Upper Midwest, including from northern Wisconsin and Milwaukee. Early customers on Friday can include antique dealers and collectors.
Last week, volunteers Kathy Stockland, Linda Argue and Chris King went through boxes filled with purses. In a neighboring storage room, four other volunteers undertook the monstrous task of going through thousands of pieces of jewelry. They will be sold at the sale and range in price from $2 to $350.
“It just depends on what we get in,” said Jean Lewis, as she sat a table assessing collections of decorative pins. “Our inventory is going to be enormous.”
Most of the items not sold at the sale are donated to Middleton Outreach Ministry, Jewish Social Services of Madison’s refugee outreach program, Agrace Hospice and St. Vincent DePaul.
While the sale includes a wide range of items, clothing and holiday merchandise is saved for other Attic Angel sales. The association’s Classic Clothing Sale is Sept. 16 and 17, with the Holidays Galore & More sale set for Nov. 4 and 5. Both events will be held at the Attic Angel Association building at 640 Junction Road. A golf outing, established in 2021, is also set for Aug. 29 at Hawks Landing as a way to raise more funds.
“All of this happens because of volunteers and they have a huge impact on the county,” said Michelle Godfrey, president and CEO of Attic Angels Community, which serves more than 400 residents on its main campus on Madison’s Far West Side and manages a campus in Verona and two in Sun Prairie. “They do a lot of work. It’s really incredible.”
An amazing story
The Attic Angel story began in 1889 when a local family couldn’t provide for their newborn twins’ basic clothing needs. Two sisters, Mary and Elva Bryant, heard about the family’s situation and decided to enlist some friends to sew items for them. The Bryant sisters realized there were other needy children and families in the community, so the two started adopting families for whom to sew.
The group went on to start Madison’s first clinic for babies, create a visiting nurses program and build nursing facilities. Over the years, the group organized cookbooks, fashion shows, charity balls, and a home and garden tour that inspired the current Attic Sale.
“When I moved up and was introduced to this, I just thought this was the coolest thing,” said Mouchayleh, a Kansas native who for years lived in Texas. “It’s such an amazing story.”