Women’s League Flea Market vendors report high sales

While the rest of the campus community was busy catching some sun (or rain) on Saturday, March 17, the University of Puget Sound Women’s League held their annual Flea Market at the Memorial Fieldhouse. The Flea Market has been held every year since 1968.

The League’s Flea Market Coordinator, Grace Mills, said, “We had a wonderful turnout, had over 1,500 [people] buy tickets at the door, plus we had presold several hundred tickets.  It was a busy day and everyone had a good time. The vendors who rented space from us all said they did better than last year.”

In 1967, Bethel Schneebeck, a member of the League, visited a flea market in Paris and was inspired by what she experienced.  She came back to the United States with the idea to raise money for the University by hosting a similar type of market.

Mills explained that the Puget Sound Women’s League uses the money from the Market to fund four endorsed scholarships: the Eliza Rummell Scholarship, the Centennial Scholarship, the Women’s League Scholarship and the Lucile and Franklin Thompson Scholarship. The money raised is split equally between these four scholarships.

Aside from the 55 vendors, who each pay $75 to book a booth, the Market includes a café, a boutique section for the more expensive items and a Grandma’s Attic that includes “just about anything you can imagine.” There’s also a silent auction.

Furniture is usually placed in the hallway or in the varsity lockers if there is not a sporting event. The silent auction features antiques. Some League members are antique dealers and help decide which items should go in the auction and how much those items are worth. This year there was an organ for sale, which was given by former Puget Sound swim coach Don Duncan.

When the flea market is over, the Life Center Church, which operates four thrift stores throughout Tacoma, receives the unsold items that vendors do not wish to keep.

On the amount of preparation and planning involved, Mills said, “It’s a lot of work but I enjoy doing it. This will be the third year I have done it. We could always use more manpower.”

Mills said that the Puget Sound Women’s League looks for students who stay at Puget Sound over Spring Break to come down and help out with the Flea Market. However, during the week of Spring Break the campus was nearly empty, and Mills said that they did not have any student volunteers.

Treasurer of the Puget Sound Women’s League, Judi Tockston, explained that as a group they choose the applicants for a few scholarships they fund, including the Centennial Scholarship and the Puget Sound Women’s League Scholarship. Current Puget Sound student Julie Coleman, who aided the Puget Sound Women’s League in running this year’s Market, has benefited from the scholarships. She is the first and only three-time winner of the Puget Sound Women’s League Centennial Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to women who are 35 years or older and who are returning to college after having been married or divorced.

“This generous financial contribution from the Puget Sound Women’s League has enabled me to complete my Bachelors Degree in Comparative Sociology at Puget Sound,” Coleman said. She plans to graduate this May.

“The members of the Puget Sound Women’s League are an amazing group of caring and involved citizens who spend countless hours engaging in activities that center around supporting Puget Sound students and the Puget Sound community as a whole,” Coleman added. “I have become very close with many of the members, because they have not only offered me financial support, but endless moral and academic support with my research.”

The Puget Sound Women’s League was formed in 1900 and has worked ever since to raise funds for the school. “The group is made up of women who are interested in supporting their college and want to help raise money towards scholarships,” Mills said.

Many members are the mothers of Puget Sound freshmen. “They are always the biggest amount who join every year but over the years they gradually drop out, especially those out of town. But those who do come down to the school for meetings and always say it’s a good excuse to go see their children,” Mills said.

The Women’s League has six meetings a year and they do not meet in the summer.  The Flea Market is currently the only event hosted by the League.