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Who remembers Rummage Sales?

Updated on September 8, 2010

 Before it became fashionable to recycle and there were very few charity shops in the high streets , rummage or jumble sales were the source of many 'new' clothes.They were generally held in church halls on Saturday afternoons and were advertised in the local paper on the previous evening.

Certain venues were more popular than others and those held in the wealthier parts of the city attracted people from all over the city.  A queue would form outside the venue about an hour before the doors were opened and the regulars who had got to know one another would use this time for a good gossip.  The customers were mainly women who came armed with capacious shopping bags and lots of small change.  Occasionally a couple of men would go but I think they felt intimidated!

When the doors were opened at the appointed time there was alot of goodnatured jostling to get inside and see the layout of the stalls.  It was usual for there to be one stall for womens clothing, one for men and one for children with a separate stall for toys bric a brac etc. so the customers would make straight for the stalls selling the required articles.Small money would be asked for an item and it was the custom to offer less and the ladies mannning the stalls would give in with good grace.

Most of the women were handy with needles and thread and many a dress or skirt would get a makeover  or be refashioned . Hand knitted garments would be unpicked and reknitted , shirts with worn collars would have the collars turned and used as work shirts and if anything really was past reusing any buttons would be cut off and saved and the garment cut into strips approximately 4 inches by 1/2inch which inturn were made into rugs using a latchet and hessian sacking. 

When the throng started to thin there would be a shout from one of the organisers 'Everything a penny' and there would be renewed rummaging! When all the customers had gone the local rag and bone man would come and clear the leftovers and the church hall returned to its usual state.

Times have moved on and charity shops and swapping parties are a feature of life today.  It is still pleasant to spend time going through the orderly rails  where the clothes are arranged in sizes and colours  but there seems less likelihood of unearthing that treasure from the bottom of the pile!




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