It is 7:30am and I have just propped open the Monday Market door and turned on the lights so that the housekeepers can vacuum the carpets in readiness for the sales day to begin. While they are cleaning, I hurriedly open the garage furniture room so that customers can consider the items stored there in overflow space. Making coffee and preparing the cookies for the volunteers to enjoy during the long day is my next order of business before they begin to arrive for work. The first volunteer comes through the door an hour early to organize all of the bags donated during the week for use at the cashiers’ counter. Customers begin to line up and fill the lobby outside the market door, while the librarian brings in the cart displaying the books she selected for sale this day. My assistant director arrives and begins processing donated items awaiting us in our red carts. The other volunteers drift in early and circulate to see what is new before taking their places at their work stations.
At precisely 9am the door is opened and we are ready to begin selling. There is a rush of customers to see what is new and to find the best bargains of the day. The line begins to grow at the cashier’s counter as customers bring their filled baskets to check out. One customer wishes to purchase a table on display, but does not want to buy the chairs. I ask my male volunteers with strong backs to help move the table to the destination apartment, and move the chairs to our garage furniture room to await a match with yet another donated table in the future. I then have the men bring in from the garage room an item or two to fill the space vacated within the Market.
Throughout the day I answer questions about the merchandise on hand and make note of requests to be informed when we receive donated items our customers are hoping to find. More red carts arrive filled with donated clothing and such to be processed, priced, and displayed. As the day progresses and there is a steady flow of customers, I am surprised at how many items are selling and scurry to fill the spaces to keep the displays highly visible and enticing. There are changes of volunteers as they complete their two-hour shifts, and I give each shift an update on new items they should promote.
One gentleman has gathered so many items to purchase that I agree to total them up in workroom so that he does not hold up the line at the cashier’s counter. A young woman decides to purchase the cloth on display under the numerous lamps arranged on a table. A volunteer helps remove the lamps. We replace the cloth with another from our inventory and revise the arrangement of the lamps. Another customer asks to buy the place setting of dishes I have displayed. I assign a volunteer to wrap and pack up the dishes in our workroom away from the bustle of the crowd.
Near the end of the day, I learn that three different customers are interested in purchasing the bookcases on display in the Market lobby. The one with the cash in hand wins the bid. The buyer will not have space for the items to be moved to their destination until week’s end, and I schedule two volunteers to be on hand to assist at that time.
At day’s end, the three o’clock hour, the door is closed and the three-member team of special cashiers arrives to make an accounting of the day’s sales, which will then be cleared by the Residents’ Council treasurer for banking. While waiting for the cashiers to do their accounting, I rearrange and straighten the displays throughout the Market in preparation for next week’s sale day. Of course, I remain to sign off on the cashiers’ accounting sheet, and we all walk out the door together. The true climax comes when I receive the recap tally and learn that we have had a very good day at the market.
Then it is off to my apartment for a relaxing evening. I have a feeling of accomplishment in knowing that our efforts produce the income which finances all of the varying and wonderful programs and activities which we residents sponsor and enjoy. I know that the job is ongoing, and every day this week I will receive calls to arrange delivery of donated furniture and, along with other dedicated volunteers, will return to the Market to process more carts of donated items. On this we thrive.