Rummage Spotlight: Brand New Department

with Joby Berman

Q: How long have you chaired the Brand New Department, and what brings you back to manage the department every summer?

A: Last year the Brand New Department was brand new.  I have worked at the Kenilworth Union Church Rummage Sale for four years and in Central Sorting for three years.  Last year I noticed how many items we collected that were “brand new”.  After talking to Karin Balsbaugh, Sallie Smith, and Susan O’Connor we decided to give this Brand New Department a chance.  It was highly successful and I look forward to running the department again.  However, we need a catchy name.  Any suggestions?

Q: Can you summarize your philosophy about pricing and marketing the various brand new items you offer in the department?

A: Since all of the items are new, and many have bar codes, I used my smartphone barcode scanner to get the retail price.  The items were then priced at about 65% to 75% off of the retail price.

Q: What makes brand new unique for and attractive to sale shoppers?

A: The Brand New Department is unique to shoppers because they can purchase our items as gifts for birthday parties, dinner parties, new babies, etc.  This department has items representing all the other departments—except Christmas.

Q: Is there a typical customer that the department appeals to?  Do you have a large, loyal group of clients that come year after year?

A: Since this will only be our second year, it is important to get the word out about the department and where it is located.  Ironically, our department does appeal to a small group of shoppers—those who buy items for resale.  Two such shoppers bar-scanned almost all of our items and together they purchased about one-third of our merchandise.  They were mostly interested in boxed items such as toys, games, housewares, candles, linens, etc.

Q: What particular kinds of donations (i.e., brands or types) do you wish you had more of to sell and why?

A: Anything that is “brand new” is welcomed.  We will sell all of it.  Last year we only had two small boxes of items that we did not sell.

Q: Do you have a favorite sale day memory that sends your spirit soaring when you think about it and reminds you about how remarkable the Kenilworth Union rummage ritual can be for volunteers and customers alike?

A: We had 10 new collector’s commemorative plates with paintings of Presidents and famous historical places including the authentic written descriptions of each.  We knew these were truly collector’s items and we were confident someone would find them—especially at the reasonable prices.  At five minutes before the end of the sale, a man walked in and was delighted to find the plates.  He bought all of them—a win-win for Kenilworth Union and him.