Couches from the 1980s, small microwaves and a singing Big Mouth Billy Bass toy. It sounds like a regular May garage sale, but there was nothing regular about this rummage sale.
The first-ever Tiger Treasures Rummage Sale drew 3,000 people to Memorial Stadium on Saturday. By 5:55 a.m., the line for early birds held more than 100 people. By 6:10 a.m., checkout lines were already forming.
Billy, the big-mouthed bass, was gone by 6:55 a.m. So were all the electronics and couches.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Amy Ward, an MU student and one of more than 150 volunteers who helped organize the event.
Steve Burdic, coordinator of the event and MU Solid Waste/Recycling coordinator, said sales far surpassed his original estimate.
“We thought we’d get $6,000,” Burdic said. “I think we doubled that.” The final total will not be known until next week.
Early-bird shoppers, 635 of them, paid an extra $5 to get inside the stadium an hour before everyone else. Emily Morrow, a Tiger Treasures volunteer and Missouri Credit Union manager, said a handful of people were at the front gates by 3:30 a.m. “I didn’t realize it was going to be this popular,” she said.
But Ann Neal, of Columbia, wasn’t surprised at the high number of people who showed up early.
“People love a garage sale,” Neal said. “Especially knowing there was so much inside.”
Organizers began working on the event in May, asking dormitory residents and fraternity and sorority members to donate items they would otherwise throw away in the frenzy of moving out for the summer.
Shoppers seemed pleased with the experience. Prices ranged from 25 cents for dishes up to $20 for furniture.
“This is a good community event,” Darrell Black, a Columbia resident, said. “I hope it comes back next year.”
Campus Facilities paired up with the Columbia Salvation Army, donating all of the proceeds to the charity.
“We needed a nonprofit to accept our donations that knew about pricing and could find a lot of the volunteers we needed,” Burdic said.
The Salvation Army also set up a food stand to raise money and took the leftover items to sell in its store.
Burdic said the rummage sale was a success even though the donated items were only about 20 percent of what students throw away every year.
“I want to challenge the students to help us pull this off in the future,” he said. “They were really generous with the stuff they gave us this year, and that’s where it all starts.”