WILLIAMSBURG — For more than 30 years, volunteers with FISH, Inc. and the College of William & Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) have organized a resale event called “The Costume Sale” that benefits the local nonprofit.
The fundraising event is typically held in October, and this year is no exception. The pop-up resale event is slated to arrive at the Sadler Center on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m., with a special “Twilight Sale” that will run from 9-11 p.m. The Costume Sale fundraising continues on the following day, Thursday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m – 5 p.m.
“It has always been called ‘The Costume Sale,’ which is modeled after many theatre departments at universities that do something like this either regularly, or occasionally, to clear out their theatre costume wardrobes,” said FISH Volunteer and event organizer Karen Berquist in an interview with WYDaily. “It was modeled off of that. The first couple years we raised a few hundred dollars, and every year since then has been bigger and better.”
FISH provides meals, clothing, houseware items, and even hygiene products to those in need within the Greater Williamsburg area. The organization does not have a paid staff and is run by over 60 volunteers that dedicate their time to making the day-to-day operations go smoothly. Last year, The Costume Sale has helped to raise over $5,000 to benefit the organization.
“FISH has volunteers every day who spend hours opening donations,” said Berquist. “I love going over there. We get several boxes a week, and we try to keep up with our sorting. We have everything organized, and for example, we know how many boxes of kids’ costumes we want to bring over and how many boxes of holiday sweaters we’ll sell. We sort and count every box.”
The Costume Sale is much more than just Halloween Costumes, Berquist told WYDaily. The event organizer estimates that only about 20% of all the items on sale will actually be Halloween costumes. The other items that are included in the sale range from tuxedos, dance costumes, formalwear, furs, hats, international outfits from places like Scotland and Thailand, shoes, and even jewelry, amongst other items.
“FISH receives amazing donations, and they’re very well supplied, particularly with their clothing, but they often get things that are outside the needs of their clients,” said Berquist. “So, when they receive outdated, maybe outrageous wear, maybe formalwear, kids and adult Halloween costumes, and things like that, they don’t have the room to keep them, and they don’t have a purpose to keep them.”
In the past, FISH has typically used two rental trucks to transfer resale items to W&M’s campus for the fundraising event. This year, however, Austin Moschler, the owner of VA Moving, offered to help FISH transfer over 100 boxes, other items, and dozens of clothes racks to the Sadler Center.
“A woman just told me that her daughter was just cleaning out and gathered maybe $200 of her kid’s Halloween costumes and brought them over to FISH because of the timing for this event. We always have people that bring these special items,” said Berquist. “A woman brought her mother’s 1960s prom dresses. All cleaned and in garment bags, because it’s a good outlet. The funds allow the clothing closet to buy the things that they need. Like new socks and underwear, new jackets, and kid’s pants that don’t have holes in them. There are certain sizes of kids pants that are really hard to get without holes in the knees.”
The Twilight sale typically starts around 9 p.m. and the event brings in many W&M students, locals, theater programs, and even people who are involved in vintage resale. Those searching for a unique item this fall might find what they’re looking for at this fundraising event.
“Nine o’clock at night we’ll open the doors for what we call the Twilight Sale, and the students poor in. It takes two minutes for this stream of people to come in through the doors,” said Berquist.”We try to be very atmospheric with this. We have big Halloween blow-up things, and we dim the lights, we were showing vintage movies during the daytime. It is a fun fundraiser.”
FISH also welcomes volunteers interested in helping the event. They are asked to contact Karen Berquist at: firstname.lastname@example.org