Whale of Sale draws shoppers looking for a ‘catch’
Maribeth Bruce of Northbrook did her best to sell nearly 100 donuts to those waiting in line before the St. Norbert Whale of a Sale opened May 19. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 10:47AM
The Northbrook St. Norbert Church Whale of a Sale netted $38,000 this year, one thousand dollars more than last year, said Betty Parkinson, sale organizer.
Leftover items that packed the school gym last weekend were distributed this week to charity.
“I am thrilled,” said Parkinson, who wore a neon OSHA orange derby hat May 19 so volunteers could find her “in the gym, the woman in the yellow shirt.”
By 7:24 a.m. that day (doors opened 8 a.m.), it was 74 degrees.
“I am thrilled the weather was wonderful this year,” said Parkinson. “We had a lot of people coming.”
On May 19: Maribeth Bruce of Northbrook wheeled a warehouse cart, repurposed from its previous repurposed use as the “Estate Room” Whale of a Sale ferry.
A sign, written in green marker, was taped to Bruce’s cart, a page of graph paper clearly hastily torn out, its perforated edges bandaged adhesively via masking tape.
“We have donuts for a dollar, coffee for 50 cents to support the youth ministry,” said Bruce, appealing to the queue of shoppers.
Brenda Sims of Hazel Crest arrived at 5:30 a.m.
“We’ve been here, how many years?” asked Sims, to three family members. “We’ve always been in first place.”
Sims stood next to the locked gym door.
“It’s got some nice stuff, nice variety of things in it,” Sims said, of the packed gym.
“Linens to clothes…”
“We came from Waukegan,” said Judy Warling, who arrived at 6:30 a.m. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Inside, volunteers stopped for Father Bob Heinz’s prayer. Bowed heads, they pep talk listened, why it’s better to be busy than be a busy body.
“God bless this mess,” concluded Father Bob.
Believers loved it, laughter soaring to the gym’s cathedral ceiling.
One patron later said of the inventory: “Holy crap.”
The seemingly chaotic mess was expertly organized in sections.
Baby items. Buzz Lightyear. Golf. Books. Furniture.
“Watch out, Roger, behind you,” said Mark Fox of Northbrook, a volunteer. “That box is sticking out.”
Both movers maneuvered the green fabric couch outdoors through steely doors, past a standing Lakewood fan. No rips.
“Are you ready?” asked Mark Locascio, a 35-year Northbrook resident. “It’s eight o’clock.”
Locascio, pretty much the only person near the door, decided to just do it, like Nike.
Doors now unlocked, volunteers then manned the floodgate.
Not a Black Friday shopping center stampede, Brenda Sims smiled for the camera as she runway walked in.
“You have to be patient,” said Fox.
“Everyone wants to get in right away, but you have to let in 20 people at a time to start.”
First item in hand, glassware marked $2 each.
“By the time I come back, it might be gone.”
Onto a Wells Fargo Wagon-groaning baker’s rack.
“I was thinking of this bowl, but I wasn’t gonna pay no 10 dollars for it,” said Sims.
Of wooden fruit, a banana, her favorite in its plastic baggie: “Two dollars.”
A satisfied smile: “It’s wood, all wood,” said Sims.
Then her Holy Grail. A glass rolling sofa table. Ten dollars, She was going to pay 10 dollars for that.
“We’ll manage,” said Sims, of carting home four adults and a packed vehicle with glass table.
“We’ve got a truck, we’ve managed with lots before.”
On the gym stage, a dealer, identifying himself as Max, sells on Amazon.com.
Max, an early-bird queue customer, crouched down, low-key, using his nifty bar code scanner.
“They compare the prices,” said a knowing Jeanne Somers, staffing the stage check-out table.
“We have dealers come and they come for cassettes, records, coffee table books…”
“It’s a whole week of preparation, we started last Saturday.”
How many staged books?
“I don’t know how to estimate it all,” said Somers, sighing, eyes scanning the inventory.