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Flee to ‘The Flea’: Bazaar benefits UMW’s selected charities

Bazaar benefits UMW’s selected charities by Becca Martin-Brown | May 14, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
Suzanne Evans of Bella Vista (right) greets Glenda Redenius of Bella Vista during the setup of a previous "Flea." (File photo)

What started as a neighborhood yard sale -- 27 years ago! -- has grown into a huge indoor flea market and boutique at Highlands United Methodist Church in Bella Vista. This year's fundraising event is May 20-21, and much excitement and hundreds of busy hands and feet are preparing to open the doors to approximately 500 guests coming and going, hunting for bargains.

Co-chairwomen Beth Williams and Mel Snyder promise "unique and interesting pieces that will excite any treasurer seeker."

"It's always a challenge to predict what items may come through our doors to sell each year," says event spokeswoman Lori Pinkerton. "Many donations come from world travelers, down-sizers and moving sales [so] the hunt is fun, whether you're looking for beautiful home decor, linens, wall hangings and pictures, housewares, furniture, tools, golf and fishing gear, old table games and other barely used bargains.

"Be sure to find the Jewelry Shop for a large array of beautiful, affordable pieces," she adds, "but if you are looking for a finer piece, then shop The Boutique! There you will find designer purses, vintage hats, hat boxes, quilts and finer collectibles at reasonable prices."

Snyder says the most interesting donation she remembers was an RV. The church congregation numbers about 330, she adds, and "I would guess that approximately 40% actively participate and 60% contribute items," making for a wide variety of offerings.

"The 'Flea' started as a neighborhood yard sale held at Branchwood Recreation Center," Synder goes on to explain. "It outgrew the space and was relocated to the parking lot of Highlands Church, [then] due to weather conditions, it was eventually moved inside to Fellowship Hall."

However, puts in Pinkerton, a large parking lot is available for outside sales as well.

"If you need a space to sell your items, call the church at 855-2277 and rent a two-day space for $10-$15," she suggests enthusiastically.

Whatever you collect or just need for daily use, buying at the Flea is an investment in your neighbors, Jean Galloway, president of the sponsoring United Methodist Women, said in a previous interview.

"From its beginning, [the] United Methodist Women [organization] has been committed to meeting the needs of the community by focusing on programs and projects on behalf of women, children and youth," she explained. "To this end, Highlands United Methodist Women holds several fundraisers throughout the year that support various women's and children's charitable organizations within Northwest Arkansas."

Local nonprofit agencies caring for women and children that will benefit from the sales of this event include the Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter, Saving Grace, Hub of Hope, Children's Advocacy Center and Nicole's House, to name a few.

"The Flea is by far our biggest fundraiser of the year and has a huge impact on the amount of money we are able to donate to our various charities at the end of the year," Galloway said. "In 2019, we distributed over $16,000 to the 15-plus women's and children's organizations we support."

  photo  Sue Lahood of Bella Vista (right) and Suzanne Evans of Bella Vista arrange sale items at a previous "Flea." The church sale started as a neighborhood sale, until it outgrew its venue. Now it's sponsored by the United Methodist Women. (NWA Democrat-Gazette File Photo/Charlie Kaijo)
  photo  Patricia Lehman of Bella Vista inspects a lamp for sale at a previous "Flea" at Highlands United Methodist Church in Bella Vista. Organizers promise decor of all kinds, along with more unusual donations. (NWA Democrat-Gazette File Photo/Charlie Kaijo)
  photo  Suzanne Evans of Bella Vista (right) greets Glenda Redenius of Bella Vista during the setup for the 2019 “Flea.” May 20-21 will mark the 27th edition of the fundraiser that benefits women’s and children’s charities in Northwest Arkansas. (NWA Democrat-Gazette File Photo/Charlie Kaijo)
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