An $8 Abercrombie and Fitch winter jacket and Nintendo games from the 1980s were among many unique items at the United Church’s annual Fall Sale Wednesday.
The sale, which takes place in the brownstone church at 20th and G streets, attracted undergraduates, law students, bargain-hunters and local businesspeople who said they came for the church’s low prices and the German lunch. The sale started at the church in the 1940s, but the mixture of bargain shopping and ethnic food didn’t start until 1973, an event organizer said.
All of the items on sale in the church’s basement are donations from members of the congregation and friends. The racks of inexpensive, used clothing brought students looking for pieces for Halloween costumes.
Audrey Green, a 2006 alumna, bought a $3 evening gown to dress as Audrey Hepburn for Halloween.
Senior Billy DeLancey, who volunteered at the sale, said he plans to buy rolls of wrapping paper and dress himself as God’s gift to women.
“There’s a million hidden treasures here that would be great in any college student’s dorm room,” DeLancey said.
GW students joined a diverse group of people who volunteer for the sale, including a Bulgarian teacher and an economist.
The church is trying to adapt to the increase in students that are in the area, said Elaine Lozier, director of the United Church’s Fall Sale.
“We’re trying to reorient our mission now towards things that are more appealing to students,” she said.
Many of the parishioners and volunteers working in the basement are GW alumni, Lozier said.
The sale has been a team tradition for members of GW’s club ultimate Frisbee team. Senior Geoff Seiler said the team goes to the first day of the sale every year to buy outfits for Thursday’s practice. He said teammates usually end up with a mix of eclectic shirts, pants and hats.
“(The sale) is one of the events I look forward to coming back to GW every year,” Seiler said.
Senior Alisa Zomer, who has attended the sale annually since her freshman year, said she looks forward to the event every fall.
“This is one of my happiest days of the year,” she said. “It’s fun and alternative and crazy.”
A line of bargain-hunters – eager to be the first ones to look at the donations – formed outside the German church before the sale opened at 11 a.m. Carol Sanford, a volunteer in charge of donated books, said a collector bought an 1865 bible for $1 last year. She added that there are a handful of collectors who come every year to find rare books.
In conjunction with the Fall Sale, the church offers a German lunch, which includes bratwurst, sauerkraut and potato salad. Some participants said they came for the food alone.
Lozier estimated the church will make over $10,000, which will go into the organization’s annual budget. She said the church operates many community outreach projects in the area – including a food pantry open every other Saturday – which benefit from the funds provided at the sale.
“I like to see this church as a spot of humanity in an inhumane world,” Lozier said.
Any merchandise left over after the sale ends Thursday will be collected by other area charity groups for schools and churches. Lozier said the sale has grown in size since it was first introduced.