Eesti Elu
AKEN Basaar #23 grossed $15,000!
Inimesed 10 May 2013 EL (Estonian Life)Eesti Elu
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As the AKEN committee members and other volunteers headed home on the evening of Friday April 26th for a well-deserved rest after three labour-intensive days of preparatory work for the big sale on the following day, all but one of the ingredients for a successful rummage and bake sale were in place: a massive amount and variety of reusable in-good-condition donated items, laid out in a highly organized customer-friendly fashion in the lower hall and upper landing of St. Andrew’s Church were awaiting new owners, unbelievable bargains were waiting to be snapped up by bargain-hungry shoppers, mouth-watering home-baked goods in the second-floor café were waiting to be bought and consumed… a cadre of 70 dedicated volunteers had committed themselves to arriving at 7:30 in the morning with their best smile and their customer-friendly sales pitch honed to perfection.

The final ingredient for a successful sale made its appearance outside the church doors on Saturday April 27th at 7 o’clock in the morning - the customers! By the time the doors opened at 8 am, the line-up of bargain-hunters stretched around the corner of the church onto Jarvis, the tail-end of which was not swallowed up by the doorway for at least another hour and a half. And it is that final ingredient – the satisfied customer - which is crucial to any sale, rummage or otherwise. After all, a satisfied customer translates into a repeat customer, which translates into a predictably positive outcome i.e. income from the sale, which, in turn, is more likely to translate into the women of the AKEN committee saying - “let’s do it again!”

But what is there to say about AKEN Basaar #23 which has not been said 22 times previously? Well, let’s put it this way - good news bears repeating! When something works well, it’s worth doing again. When something is repeatedly successful, it’s worth hearing and reading about. When something is positive and has a beneficial impact on individuals as well as on the community as a whole…hearing and reading about it once, twice or even ten times a year cannot be too much. Good news is indeed needed to help balance out the barrage of bad news which constantly bombards us daily from all directions.
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Admittedly, much about the AKEN rummage and bake sale is the same year in and year out – the tables laden heavy with all manner of gently used wares, the aroma of fresh-baked goods lingering in the air, the (gently) elbowing crowds, the excitement, the energy, the hustle-bustle, the bargaining, the familiar faces of long-time volunteers, the friendly faces of repeat customers and thankfully the wondrous faces of new volunteers and new customers taking it all in for the very first time.

But what makes the AKEN basaar a little different every year is the fact that there are new and interesting human interest stories…..stories of kindness, stories of people helping people. This year several of the sales staff had occasion to serve a young woman in her twenties (let’s call her Mary) who had just arrived back from India where she had worked for a year in a volunteer capacity with young girls forced into brothels mainly due to circumstances beyond their own control.

Owning nothing but the clothes on her back and operating with minimal funds, “Mary” was more than relieved to happen upon the AKEN rummage sale where she could purchase much needed kitchen wares for very affordable prices. Having deposited a heavy bagful of dishes, cutlery, pots, pans and the like at home, “Mary” returned to the sale to look for more bargains only to find that the Oasis truck had pulled up in front of the church door and that the AKEN volunteers were busily filling the truck with the unsold items from the sale.

Did Mary leave empty-handed? No, the AKEN sales staff rallied around to help a fellow “volunteer” and Mary went home with more essential household items for the best price in town – free! A highly grateful and appreciative “Mary” vowed to be back for more bargain shopping in 2014! Another “repeat customer”, another convert for what many multiple-repeat customers describe as “the best darn rummage sale in all of TO”!

The women of the AKEN committee who steered the well-oiled machine known as AKEN Basaar #23 to a successful finish-line, will shortly consider whether to shift gears and try alternative fund-raising strategies or to move full-throttle ahead with AKEN Basaar #24 in 2014.

Ellen Leivat, AKEN committee chairperson

#1 Pictured is the art and frame department at AKEN Basaar #23 before "golden-tongued" saleswhiz Ellen Valter sold the walls bare...

#2 Anne Meema, long-time head of the glass and porcelaine department at AKEN basaars was grateful that Kungla folkdancers Taimi Marley Hooper and Raja Raudsepp heeded Kungla's call to its members to help out at the basaar and thus it is that AKEN and Kungla currently have a mutually supportive relationship
or as they in Estonian "käsi peseb kätt".
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