THE MUSKOKAN — We had just been declared high rollers or “whales” as they call them in the Las Vegas gambling strip and were proud of it.
You never know what you’ll find at a church sale, but whatever it is will be a bargain.
Photo by Bev McMullen
There we were on the July long weekend last year standing in the back of the United Church in Bala. Members staffing the counters decided that because of our spending patterns over the years, we would be their first declared “Las Vegas-style high rollers” and they were pleased to tell us that also entitled us to be put up at Dudley’s motel the night before the sale.
My mother had always told me it pays to go to church because of the people you meet. Little did she know about the bargoons at Muskoka church sales. It’s always been a fun free-spending morning for us since we put a set amount of bills in our pockets and stay there until all is spent. Along the way we’ve managed to furnish a part of the cottage.
Begin by walking down the garden path on the Bala Falls side. That’s where some of the big buys are, including microwaves, wicker furniture, desks, water coolers, huge mirrors, art work, water skis and more. On rainy days we have often “thanked God” for the TV we bought so we can lock the grandkids in the basement with their own set.
At the end of the path are racks of clothes outside and a door into the basement with more clothes, shoes, hats, purses. There’s usually more designer labels there than you’ll find at the Timothy Eaton bazaar and some with the original price tags on them. Lizsports, Alfred Sung, Nygard, Roots, Holt Renfrew, Calvin Klein are a few we have scored. Last year most shorts and pants were $5, but I had to pay $10 for a elegant pair with an original tag of $120 still attached. Arnold Palmer velvet slippers still in the box were $2. Ask the woman who looks after that section what her best buys are — she is a treasure.
In the room behind the chapel are rows of tables with toys, curtains, dishes, antiques, radios, stereos, port-a-cribs, just about everything you need to stock a kitchen, and lots of sumptuous-looking homemade squares and bars. One year we bought a rice cooker, two-tier steamer, espresso maker, pasta maker and large toaster; then had to drive our car up to the back door to load it all in.
As the morning wanes on, the staff who are generally big softies seem open to just about any deal. Last year we walked away with two large bird feeders filled with birdseed. Price: one dollar each. The seed alone was worth $15.
After a round of quite silly negotiations at one table, my husband declared that if he wasn’t such a good Catholic he would join their church, since they seem to have such a good time.
So if you happen to see a white limo pull up in front of the church, don’t expect a bride and groom to get out, it will just be Bala’s first high rollers arriving from Dudley’s motel with cash in hand. Better run and scoop up anything you have been considering because we will be hot to trot.