The Whale of a Sale – which the Junior League of Wilmington calls Delaware’s largest garage sale – returns Saturday, Nov. 4 for the first time in four years.
“It’s a little bit of work, but it’s so rewarding, ” league president Taylor Drainer said last month.
“We have fun hanging around with friends, and we enjoy helping parents find a good pair of shoes or a Christmas gift,” she said. “They’re so grateful at finding really good items at a fraction of retail.”
The sale runs 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Concord Mall. The mall has donated two empty stores – adjacent spaces once used by Hollister and Zumiez – at its southern end, so the league suggests that shoppers use the entrance by Bonefish Grill.
Drainer said that in years past people lined up as early as 5 a.m. to be first to find bargains, and she has heard that people camped out overnight.
In 2019, the last full-fledged Whale of a Sale netted $23,285.
The money raised from the sale supports the league’s mission: advancing “women’s leadership for meaningful community impact through volunteer action, collaboration and training.”
It also supports Stand Up. Period., a program begun in 2019 to address “menstrual – or period – equity.” It has distributed more 250,000 essential items, including tampons, pads, liners and underwear.
“A year’s worth of period supplies costs the average person about $200,” the league writes. “These products aren’t covered by government assistance programs like WIC or SNAP, and they aren’t eligible for purchase under federal flexible spending account or health savings account programs. People without adequate supplies miss out on school, work and activities.”
The Wilmington league is one of the first leagues of the 291 in the Association of Junior Leagues International to establish such a program.
How the Whale of a Sale comes together
The Wilmington league has more than 300 members, Drainer said, organized into three categories: new members, active members who have been involved for one to seven years and sustaining members who “are moving on to the next chapter of their lives.”
Active members are asked to donate $150 worth of items, volunteer two shifts to help set it all up and work a half-day at the sale. New and sustaining members make donations as well, and all members are encouraged to reach out to their friends and family members for items to sell.
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League members, plus their family members and friends, are also invited to a fundraiser preview party, where they can shop. The Selfie Lab sponsored the preview party space, she said.
Since 1980, the Wilmington Whale of a Sale has run 37 sales, meaning one every year or every other year, except for the pandemic hiatus in 2020 and 2021. A mini-sale was held in 2022.
Updates to the sale – including glimpses of the merch – will be posted on its Facebook event page.
Drainer is already excited by the 30 to 40 wedding dresses donated by Bella’s Younique Bridal Boutique, near New Castle.
“They’ll be $100 or less, and they retail for thousands of dollars,” she said.
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