Only got $20 in your pocket? That'll go a long way this Friday and Saturday, when the entire floor of the Civic Center is stacked with bargains.
The 66th annual Junior League Thrift Sale promises to be a wonderland of good deals and epic scores, boasting aisles of gently-used clothes, lovely furniture, in-demand toys, barely-read books and adorable tsotchkes (defined by a certain grandmother as "stuff you have to dust.")
But the annual event does more than delight those looking for a come-up.
"This is our biggest fundraiser of the year," reminds Leslie Dunn, chair of this year's sale. "And every penny goes back to our community projects."
Past sales have grossed over $100,000, allowing the Junior League to extend a charitable (and well-manicured) hand to deserving Savannah women-and-children-focused organizations like the Ronald McDonald House and the Backpack Buddies program. The League also hosts teddy bear clinics and Christmas parties for patients at Memorial Children's Hospital as well as "Done in a Day" workshops to help local citizens.
Established in 1901 as part of the social reform movement, the Junior League has 293 chapters in North America and galvanizes women to volunteer in their communities. Eleanor Roosevelt and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor are counted amongst its many notable members.
Still, the League has suffered a reputation as a hobby for a hoity-toity housewives in pumps and pearls. Kickin' retro style aside, it's a wholly unjustified stigma, say modern Leaguers.
"We're not the stuffy, white-gloved ladies that were portrayed back in the day," chastens Dunn. "We're working women, mothers, teachers, doctors, lawyers — our president, Nelle Bordeaux, is a minister.
"We're the ones you see every day, you just might not know we're in the Junior League."
Dunn herself works full-time as a juvenile intensive supervision probation officer and joined the Junior League five years ago.
"I see a lot of bad things at my job, and I wanted to experience a direct positive impact in my community," says the Savannah native.
Far from some exclusionary country club, the Junior League is open to any woman 21 or older who can commit to a year-long provisional class that educates members on the various good works of the organization.
The Savannah chapter counts over 150 active members and 300-400 sustaining members; this year's class is one of the largest in history with over 60 newbies.
Dunn and her committee of 25 have worked for months sourcing donations, and the rest of the League is logging shifts all week to tag and organize them before the doors open on Thursday evening.
That's right: Any hardcore thrifter can wrangle early bird shopping privileges the night before the rest of the public. Tickets to the sale's preview party are $35 and prices are doubled for this event — still an excellent deal for a first shot at the loot. Preview attendees can also bid on new items from various local businesses at the silent and live auctions.
The rest of the bargain hunters must wait until Friday at 10am, when tickets are $5. The Civic Center box office doesn't open until 10, and Dunn recommends buying tickets online at etix.com to skip the morning lines. On Saturday, admission is $3 and prices drop 50 percent. What booty doesn't sell by Saturday afternoon will be donated to Goodwill.
What can savvy shoppers expect? Dunn reports that there's a lot of Georgia Southern memorabilia, sporting equipment, TVs, pots, pans and stylish clothes. Extra eager? Follow the Junior League of Savannah on Facebook for photos of choice items.
Who knows? There's a good chance you could pick up a lovely strand of vintage pearls.