Prices are low and attendees feel free at Etna rummage sale

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/25/2021 10:04:10 PM
Modified: 6/25/2021 10:04:20 PM

ETNA — Fifteen minutes before the doors opened at the Etna Ladies Aid rummage sale Friday, a line of customers stretched down the entrance ramp to Trumbull Hall.

Some people sat on lawn chairs brought from home, their energy bubbling as they waited for the first of the popular, twice-a-year event since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Rick Corette, who drove over from Canaan, said he’s been coming to the rummage sale with his father since he was a kid. Now retired, Corette said he was excited to see the event return.

“My generation goes way back,” Corette said. “I always find something new here.”

Inside Trumbull Hall, three generations of Etna Ladies Aid members and family volunteers prepared to open the doors. Laughter and loud voices filled the back room.

“Can you see all of us grinning from ear to ear?” said Etna Ladies Aid President Becky LaHaye. After a year of meetings on Zoom, organization members were thrilled to be back in person. “When we finally met after 15 months, there were 20 ladies. We had to keep putting tables out to get us all.”

Proceeds from the sale are donated to local community projects and service organizations such as the Etna Green playground, LISTEN, the Good Neighbor Clinic and the summer band concert on the Etna Green. In past years, these totaled around $2,000, LaHaye said.

With more items to sell than they’ve ever had before, LaHaye said she hoped this spring’s sale would bring more proceeds than previous years. One donor brought three truckloads of items, she said.

But the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over, and LaHaye wasn’t certain how the day would pan out.

“You know, it’s a crapshoot. How do you know?” she said. “Are people uncomfortable coming out, or are they like, ‘Lemme out, let’s go!’ ”

When the doors opened at noon, customers poured inside, some running to try and find the best treasures and deals. A woman carrying a ukulele walked past a baby carriage that was more than 100 years old. Two tiny wooden shoes labeled as from Holland were selling for 50 cents. People looked through rows of clothing piles and a large modern bookshelf stood in the kids section.

“It’s overwhelming in a good way. They’ve got everything you’d ever need,” said Garlan Hoskin, a collector from Etna who was looking for something interesting and antique. One of the few things that cannot be found at the sale are electronics.

Although masks were not required in the building, a few could still be seen in the crowd. Ralph Epifanio decided to wear his, citing concerns over the low vaccination rates in New Hampshire. According to the CDC, about 65% of New Hampshire residents over 18 are fully vaccinated as of June 24. Despite his concern, Epifanio, a Canaan resident, placed great importance on the return of Etna Ladies Aid’s rummage sale.

“This is the opening of the pandemic. There are three yard sales I would consider freedom. This one” is one of them, he said.

The rummage sale is bringing freedom to the community in more than one way. Hartford Community Restorative Justice Center volunteer Kitty O’Hara said she liked attending so she could buy clothes for people who were just released from prison.

“We’ll have people come out in the dead of winter without a winter jacket, so if I can pick things up we store it,” O’Hara said.

For Etna Ladies Aid members, planning the event meant a return to community.

“We just sat around and talked for over an hour. And you know a lot of people have been isolated during all of this,” LaHaye said. “You think about being elderly, and nobody can come see you because you’re in a vulnerable group, you’ve been told to stay home because you’re going to get COVID. ... So it was so nice for us all to be back together.”

Rummage sale organizer and Etna Ladies Aid member Susan Johnson fully embraced the fun of the sale, letting a friend tape a $10,000 price tag on her cheek. “We want to stay old until the end,” Johnson said.

The rummage sale will resume Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Trumbull Hall. Any leftover clothes will be given to the Rise Again Outreach mission for people in need.

Jasmine Taudvin can be reached at

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