The Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale is a tradition like no other on Bainbridge Island. If you’ve never attended the event, be sure and plan to do so when it returns to a live format – hopefully in 2022.
This year’s auction, like last year’s, will be an online affair, beginning with the preview day, set for Wednesday June 23. (See the schedule of below).
For those of you who may not be in the know, the Auction & Rummage Sale is staged by the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island, along with the help of hundreds of volunteers. The club has been putting on this community event for 60 years, and in the past five years alone (2015-2019) has invested nearly $2 million from auction proceeds into our local community and international efforts.
As a former Bainbridge Rotarian, let me say first hand that the auction is a legendary fundraising effort, not only in Rotary circles around the United States, but in non-profit corners just about everywhere. People you may talk with in other places, can’t get their heads around how well the auction is organized, how much support it has, and how much money it earns in just one day.
When you tell folks – say in Oregon – that the auction & rummage sale has grossed more $600,000 over a 24 hour period, their eyes widen and their jaws drop.
It’s truly that amazing!
One aspect that makes it unusual, to say the least, is its Norman “Rockwellish” quality. The auction & rummage sale is held at Woodward Middle School. Every inch of the place – from classrooms to the gymnasium to the parking lots – are used to create a giant emporium that is broken up into something like 30 departments, from books and furniture, to clothing, lawnmowers, boats, bicycles, automobiles, fine jewelry, and much more.
It’s an incredible assortment of “treasurers” gleaned from donations made by islanders and the wider Kitsap community. When we moved here nearly 33 years ago, we went to the auction – then held in the parking lot of the old Commodore Middle School – and bought a barrage of stuff – a stroller, a swing, and any number of toys – for our then new baby.
We couldn’t believe our luck with being able to buy all these nifty items, and at such a reasonable price. We were pinching ourselves!
The event, of course, has grown over the years, but the small-town Norm Rockwell-feel still exists. As a Rotarian a few years back, I can still recall standing amongst a sea of furniture on the south-end parking lot of Woodward Middle School just prior to the start of the auction.
An anxious crowd was gathered behind a thin barrier of caution tape on Sportsmen’s Club Drive. The Star-Spangled Banner was being sung over a loud speaker, the flag was waving overhead and many a Rotarian and volunteer had their hats off and their hands over their hearts, singing along
It was like a scene out of a 1950’s Life Magazine article. Then the music stopped, the barricades went down, and the masses rushed to buy a favorite item they had spied during the preview night. Capitalism at it’s purest!
There is no better way to get a true feel for the auction – and all that it takes to stage it – than to be a Rotarian or a volunteer. But even if you just attend and purchase some stuff, you’ll enjoy the experience – perhaps running into friends and neighbors, or simply being awed by the sheer size and scale of the thing.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that those “live days” will return soon. Meanwhile, the Rotary Club is moving forward with its second annual virtual auction.
To date, the Rotary has received nearly 950 donations, including some gifts that will be designated as actual auction items that the public can bid on, such as cars or boats or fine furnishings, says Rosemary Shaw, co-chair of this year’s online auction.
“The main goal is that everyone have fun and enjoy the experience,” says Shaw, who has been a Bainbridge Rotarian since 2011. “It’s about (supporting) the community.”
Last year, the club raised $113,000 from it’s first-ever online auction, most of the proceedings going to support island non-profits impacted by the Pandemic, including nearly $45,000 that helped underwrite day-care tuition for needy families, Shaw says.
If the Rotary Club raises a similar amount during this year’s online auction “that would be fantastic,” Shaw gushes, “but we’re not focused so much on that. … We’re just grateful for the donations and the Rotarians and volunteers involved.”
Simply put, buyers visit https://www.bainbridgerotaryauction.org/ on June 23 for the preview day to check out the merchandise, before the auction and rummage sale begins in earnest on Thursday June 24, and runs for three successive days.
After a sale is made, using a highly secured credit card system, according to Shaw, buyers and sellers will exchange an email and then determine where and when to pick up their purchases.
Let the buying and selling begin!
Online Auction Dates
- Online Preview Day: Wednesday, June 23, 8am–9pm
- Online Auction/Rummage Sale: Thursday, June 24, 6am–Saturday, June 26, 5pm
- Vehicles and Boats: In-person viewing Wednesday June 23, 4pm–8pm, and Thursday, June 24–Saturday, June 26 by appointment; vehicle and boat pickup on Sunday, June 27, 10am–2pm
*Images and logo provided by, and used with permission by the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club