Camp Courageous Manchester Garage Sale gifted new facility

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The biggest thing to happen in Camp Courageous history was shared last week with the gifting of the former Norbys Farm & Fleet building in Manchester.

     Since 1994, the Camp Courageous Garage Sale in Manchester has operated out of the former creamery on E. Main Street. That facility was also donated to Camp by Loren and Connie Norby. The famous garage sale site will relocate in the near future just two blocks to the east, with Norbys building a new facility on the west side of Manchester.

     Camp Courageous Director Charlie Becker said the current garage sale facility provides less then 3,000 square feet. The new space… 21,000 square feet.

     “That’s a pretty substantial size comparison,” Becker said.

     The idea for a Camp Courageous garage sale actually began in the mid-1970s when a Manchester resident got the idea to host a garage sale in his garage and basement. The event slowly outgrew the man’s house, prompting the move to several different locations throughout Manchester from the early 1980s to the mid-‘90s.

     “People come from a long distance to shop and bring items in,” Becker said of the garage sale’s popularity.

     Becker said after the Norbys donated the old creamery building, it needed some work to allow Camp to operate the garage sale from inside. The building was cleaned up, and heating and cooling units were installed. Over time, the parking lot was paved as well.

     In the summer of 2015, Becker got wind of the news that Norbys was looking to rebuild in Manchester. That June, he wrote Connie Norby asking if they would ever be interested in donating their building to Camp Courageous.

     “I just wanted to plant the seed,” he said.

     In March of this year, 2018, Becker received a reply from Norby. The wheels were in motion to relocate the garage sale.

     “We’re grateful for what Norbys did,” thanked Becker. “We just couldn’t handle the volume of what was coming into the garage sale.” Becker said the volunteers had to pass on receiving donations strictly because they were running out of room.

     The Camp Courageous Garage Sale runs from mid-April through mid-October. It is operated by volunteers every day.

     “We have the best group of volunteers,” praised Becker.

     With the move, Becker said he hopes this can help stimulate more business on the east side of Manchester.

     Much work is needed on the former Norbys facility before Camp is up and running. “It needs a major cleaning in the spring,” Becker said.

     Other punch-list items include: a new roof, a new ceiling, LED interior lights, and solar paneling. “We want to be as self-sufficient as possible,” Becker said of operating on solar electricity.

     After the closeout of Younkers department stores throughout Iowa, Camp obtained many clothing racks to use in conjunction with the garage sale. Becker said those could be put to use with the new facility.

     The positives of the new location, aside from the massive amount of space, are the parking and accessibility. Customers can park in front of the building rather than drive in and behind at the current location. Becker said they also hope to establish a drop-off area with a separate door.

     Camp Courageous runs solely on donations. The Manchester Garage Sale and Pineapple Gala are the two biggest fundraisers every year.

     “It’s quickly grown into our largest fundraiser,” said Becker. “And it’s run 100 percent by volunteers, 100 percent on donations, and 100 percent of people buying items to benefit Camp Courageous.”

     Aside from selling items, the garage sale also became a hub for general donations for Camp such a non-perishable food items and craft kits.

     “People were generous to donate things we needed,” Becker said.

     As for whether the garage sale will run year-round, Becker said that depends on the volunteers, with many being snowbirds who travel south in the winter.

     They do plan to utilize the entire Norbys facility. Becker said it would now be possible to sell vehicles and large items that they simply did not have the room for before.

     “We’ll look at additional opportunities,” he said.



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