The smartest-looking women tend to be smart with their wardrobe dollars. They also tend to have extra reserves of stamina. Early last Saturday -- around 6 a.m. -- a hardy group was encamped on the grounds at the GBMC farmhouse waiting for the doors of the Nearly New Thrift Shop patron's day sale to open it's doors at 10 a.m.
The weather was balmy and the mood was chatty -- but competitive -- just before this bargain shopping marathon. To be admitted to the patron's sale this group had donated sale items in the fall. As a thank-you gesture, the sale committee gives them the first go at the thousands of donated clothes, accessories and household items.
Amy Zverina, a student at Loyola College, and her friend Susan Dixon were first in line waiting out the four hours until opening on a blanket and enjoying a picnic breakfast. Ms. Zverina had a purpose. "I'm here to find a prom dress for myself and a tux for my boyfriend," she explained. "I'm looking for a vintage dress in a great fabric. I know someone who does alterations so the fit isn't crucial."
Hours into the sale she had picked and rejected a red tank dress in crushed velvet priced at $2. She finally settled for a bottle green taffeta with a portrait collar for $6. The color was great with the warm highlights in her hair.
Lighting designer Brenda Gracie was checking out at the register with a box of goodies -- the best find -- a little black velvet cocktail dress with jet beading covering the cap sleeves. It was a Suzy Perette number from the early '60s but as current as ever.
"I head for the costume jewelry first thing," said Liza Eskridge, who works for Alex Cooper Auctioneers. "I look for vintage pieces, and there is always the chance something good will turn up. After that I'll look through the men's shirts. Tailored shirts are the thing right now."
Becky Darwin and her daughter Melissa have been shopping the GBMC sales for decades. "I first brought Melissa strapped to my back; now she walks through it on her own," Mrs. Darwin said. Mother and daughter shopped with an eye for bargains.
Melissa Darwin showed off a sarong-wrapped sun dress, which could hold its own in any resort collection despite the $6 tag.
"If I ever moved out of town, I'd miss this sale the most," said Sherri Vilov, a sales associate at Eclectic. "I look for fabrics and clothes that can be cut down. I sew, so I like to make things I won't see on anyone else. Right now I'm piecing together purses out of old linens and silks. If I find a great old dress, I'll take it apart and use it other ways. I collect hats too, and sometimes find some great ones, but I use them as decoration mostly. At worst, the GBMC sale is a terrific source for Halloween costumes."
The GBMC Nearly New Thrift Shop sale opens to the public on May 9 and continues through May 16. Additional merchandise is added during the course of the week. Proceeds help to support the hospital's Cancer Center. Call (410) 828-9467 for hours and information.
The Volunteer Auxiliary will begin receiving donations for the fall sale on May 26. Remember, useful and stylish rejects from your closet are the ticket to this semiannual sale preview.