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Buyers revel in bargains at museum

November 10, 2007|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

The Treasure Sale at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts plays out like a roller coaster ride of a high-end flea market.

Buyers begin excited, expectant and a little guarded, and end up unfurled, grinning and shrieking with delight.

The annual fundraiser sale is hosted by the Singer Society, the museum's volunteer association. Area businesses and individuals donate new and used items for the event.

The Treasure Sale opens each year with a Friday night preview. For $10, attendees get to scope out items of interest over food and drink.

Carolyn Emerson and Cheryl Strong, co-chairwomen of the event, said each year, the sale has a different "personality."

"This year, we have a lot of crystal and silver and more collectable items than ever before," Emerson said.

Saturday morning, shoppers line up outside the museum doors well before the 10 a.m. opening. Those who attended the Friday preview already know what they are after.

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"At (Friday) night's party, people decided what they wanted to buy," said Marjorie Hobbs, a member of the museum's board of directors. "Then in the morning, they run in to buy. This morning, we had people running."

Judy and Russell Dearing of Martinsburg, W.Va., attended the Friday preview and made a list of their favorite items. Saturday morning, Russell, 75, arrived at the museum at 10 a.m. and made the purchases. He took home a truckload of items, picked up Judy, 73, and went back to the museum for more shopping.

"I like the bargains," Judy Dearing said, her arms overflowing with baskets and silk flowers. "I get things I wouldn't get for myself otherwise."

As the hours pass and it seems the sale is about to wind down, the doors close and shoppers begin lining up all over again for the 50 percent markdown at 2 p.m.

Sally Hatch was about 20th in line. Hatch had been at the sale earlier in the day and spotted a decanter that looked like Blenko, a brand of blown glass crafted in West Virginia. Hatch collects the glass, but was not sure if the piece she had seen was the Blenko brand. She decided at 50 percent off, it didn't matter.

"I don't know if it's still there or not," Hatch said as she waited in line.

Moments later, a Singer Society volunteer threw open the doors and shoppers erupted back into the sale. Throughout the room, glass and silver clanged as shoppers snatched up items exclaiming, "It's still here!"

Sally Hatch emerged from the crowd clutching a striking blue decanter, roughly 2 feet tall.

"It was $25. I got it for $12.50. What a bargain! I don't know if it's Blenko or not, but it's going to our collection," she said.

Lisa Maynor, 31, of Philadelphia, attended the sale early in the day, snagging a blue and white ironstone Staffordshire pot and some French steak knives. At 2 p.m., she was back.

"I got a mink stole. I'm so excited!" Maynor said. "My grandma is over there. She's racking up, too. Everybody is! Boy I cleaned up."

Hobbs said organizers were hoping to bring in between $12,000 and $18,000 from the sale.

"People are looking for quality items, which they find," Hobbs said. "They are looking for good prices, which they find. It's a wonderful fundraiser for the museum."

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