The Lake Street Church rummage sale sold anything from antique jewelry, waffle makers, antique TVs, and anything in between. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Teapots, glassware and ceramic trinkets glittered under the warm church lighting, as eager shoppers scored great deals. Stockpiled with goodies, Lake Street Church drew crowds this weekend with its ‘Repurposing for a Purpose’ rummage sale. 

The rummage sale, which started at 10 a.m. and ended around 4 p.m. on both Oct. 8 and 9, aimed to raise about $7,000 for the Lake Street Church, which organizers said always runs a little close to its financial bottom line. 

The first day of the sale a long line of shoppers formed down the block, and by the end of the weekend the church made more than double its goal. Organizers said they were more than pleased with the turnout. 

Aside from raising money, the rummage sale encouraged people to buy used items. “It’s thrilling to be able to see gorgeous things being repurposed and finding new homes,” said Kim Yee, a volunteer and longtime member of the church. 

Organizers started planning for the rummage sale in 2019, but the pandemic put it on hold. During the last year and a half, donated furniture, clothing, board games, jewelry and more piled up in the church basement. 

“People kept giving and giving,” said chief organizer Nancy Childress, 87. “Our basement was just overflowing.” Childress theorized that during the shutdown people decided to use their extra time to clean out closets and dressers and donate what they no longer needed. 

In June 2021, when it seemed the pandemic might be coming to an end, organizers announced the rummage sale would occur in the fall. Community members and volunteers met several times a week to price and organize items in preparation.

Chief organizer Nancy Childress said the rummage sale went wonderfully. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Childress said when it came to organizing the rummage sale, she was “stuck in 2003,” when everyone paid in cash, and advertised with signs on the front lawn. Yee stepped up to help with the technology and marketing. “I’ve just been so grateful for her input on technology, and her driving force to get things done,” Childress said. 

Yee said it took a chain of volunteers, using the old-fashioned fire bucket brigade, to bring things up from the basement. Some of her favorite items sold at the sale included a vintage 1950s TV that an ETHS history teacher purchased, gramophone records and an old photo album with letters and photos from 1893. 

A woman also donated dozens of huge jewelry boxes that belonged to her deceased Aunt Mary. The jewelry, which was sold by the box, took up its own room. 

The items that weren’t sold at the rummage sale will be passed on to several organizations and groups, including the Salvation Army, Better World Books, Books for Good and a group at Loyola hosting a shoe drive, Childress said. “We’re still trying to make sure everything goes to good use and not just in the trash,” Yee said. 

Bill Bridges, another member of the church, and his wife worked as volunteers at the sale. Bridges, who helped out Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, said he enjoyed seeing people get great deals. 

Organizer Nancy Childress poses alongside volunteers Barbara Vaughan, Gordon Hazen, and Sarah Hanson (left to right) at the cash register. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Some of the volunteers were from outside Evanston, including Wilmette and Arlington Heights, Childress said. People from outside the City say there’s something special about Lake Street Church, she added. Childress attributes her own love for the church to its message and social justice work, including its collaboration with Connections for the Homeless. 

Childress doubts the rummage sale will become an annual event, because the church isn’t adapted to it and doesn’t have sufficient parking spaces, but she is proud of what she and the nearly 70 other volunteers and organizers achieved. 

The sale drew a crowd of shoppers and Childress said she imagines that in 10 years, people might look back and say, “Remember the rummage sale?”

Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...