Folks rise early for Whale of a Sale
Michael Gamble sounded groggy in the minutes leading up to the 8 a.m. opening of Saturday's 36th annual Junior League of Charleston's Whale of a Sale.
Gamble was standing with family members, all of whom had left Lake City at 11 p.m. Friday and arrived at Gaillard Auditorium at 2 a.m. to claim their spot at the front of the line for the sale, but he admitted to getting a good night's sleep.
"I slept in the (car) trunk last night, man," said 19-year-old Gamble. "The sleep was good. I just got out right now."
His 58-year-old grandmother Mary Gibbes held the place for him, two pregnant granddaughters and others, but took the opportunity to give them some good-natured grief.
"They are young and let their 58-year-old grandmother stay out in the cold to hold their place in line," said Gibbes, who had a chair, sleeping bag and coffee, along with some other super early, early birds to keep her company.
She was joined by Catherine Smith of Daniel Island, a 13-year Whale of a Sale veteran, and Ann Johnson of Moncks Corner, who lined up with friends around 2:15 a.m.
Smith said she keeps coming back because of great deals on home furnishings such as custom draperies and oil paintings. Items from the Whale of a Sale has made her home quite a comforting place to live, she said.
Both she and Johnson also enjoy the thrill of the sale, which fills the lower level of Gaillard with items such as electronics, furnishings, clothes, sports equipment and books, and not knowing what treasures they will find.
"It's the excitement," said Johnson, who was marking her third consecutive year at Whale. "Those doors open and I'm all over the place."
One problem for early birds, all said, was the lack of portable toilets, which usually are available.
Lee Batten of the Junior League estimated that 2,000 people attended Saturday's sale and that the organization, which had 40 volunteers on hand, hoped to raise and distribute at least $70,000 to local causes, including Habitat for Humanity, Lowcountry Food Bank, Fields to Families, Backpack Buddies and Lowcountry Orphan Relief.