A History of the Nearly New Sale
It all began in 1963 with the idea of consigning used clothing to support the Marion Cross Elementary School Scholarship Fund while providing good, used clothing at affordable prices for Upper Valley residents. The first recipient of the NWC Marion Cross Scholarship Fund was a young lady who went to Castleton State College to become a teacher. The scholarship was awarded in the amount of $100 - a most helpful sum “back in the day.”
For many years the sale was held in the hall at St Francis of Assisi Church on Beaver Meadow Road. Over time the sale outgrew that venue and moved to Tracy Hall where it continues the tradition of a twice-yearly clothing sale.
The first sale used older sale racks from the R. H. Ham Co. in North Carolina, driven in a truck by a member of the sale committee all the way up from Greensboro! Over time new racks have replaced some of the old racks.
Signs for the first 40 plus years were rudimentary at best. The indoor signage comprised of large, 5-lb coffee cans filled with sand providing the stability for a paint stick and various cardboard signs. At the end of every sale, the sand was poured into two large buckets for storage; boxes for storing the coffee cans and an old suitcase for storing the signs is one of my early memories being on the clean-up shift. Now metal and plastic holders with hot pink with black lettered signs alert shoppers to the various sections of retail space.
The hands-down most annoying part of setting up and packing up each sale was the nightmare of the hangers. Boxes from Dan & Whits General Store of all sizes and shapes were used; the many various sizes and types of hangers from thin wire hangers to chunky wooden type were thrown, not packed, into a box until it was full. Yes, it got the job done, but just imagine the “fun” for the volunteers at the next sale who were “lucky” enough to have to untangle the mess with each garment to be hung. Since boxes collect moisture in storage, rust became a problem on metal clips. Now the hangers are stacked properly and enclosed in large, clear plastic bags, and continue to be stored in Fran Nye’s barn for all these many years.
The Norwich Women’s Club has much to be proud of—the Nearly New Sale and scholarship awards have come a long way thanks to the suggestions and hard work of so many volunteers who have continued over 50 years to carry on the tradition of a great idea that was born in 1963.
By Elaine Waterman, Co-chair