Enjoy this Q & A with Susan Zickel and mark your calendar for the FISH COSTUME sale!
[Photo of author BEFORE the Costume Sale]
1. What is the FISH Costume Sale?
The FISH Costume Sale is a fundraiser for Williamsburg’s food pantry and clothes closet (FISH). William & Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) sponsors the event which is the largest annually held fundraiser for this community not-for-profit organization.
FISH is a local all-volunteer, non-denominational organization that has provided food, clothes, and transportation to those in need since the mid-1970s. FISH operates solely through donations of time, money, and goods.
Client referrals come from churches, community groups like Avalon and United Way. In 2012 FISH responded to 4,831 requests for assistance and provided nearly 134,000 meals and 9,800 outfits and housewares to 500 homes. This was a 14% increase from 2011.
The operating expenses for FISH include rent, office supplies, as well as clothes or food items in short supply. The organization just purchased $500 worth of new underwear because those clothing articles were lacking. For more information regarding FISH, its needs and location visit the organization’s website at: http://williamsburgfish.weebly.com/
2. How did the sale start?
The sale began in 1985 by FISH volunteer Karen Berquist. The first few sales were held in conjunction with an event hosted by William & Mary’s Theater Department. Each year the sale has grown in size and attendance and since the late 1990s has been held in Tidewater Room A upstairs in William & Mary’s Sadler Center.
Occurring only one day of the year, the Costume Sale is historically held in October, between William & Mary’s fall break and homecoming. While students are the primary audience, the sale has long attracted community members, local theater groups, and families.
3. Where do the clothes come from?
All clothing items have been donated to FISH. Those items deemed not appropriate for daily, interview, or church-wear are set aside for this annual fundraiser.
4. Where does the money raised go?
ALL proceeds and donations from the Costume Sale go directly back to FISH.
Since items are sold at thrift store prices (which haven’t been raised in a few years), we gladly accept rounding up as well as flat donations. The money is typically used to pay the facility’s rent and purchase new items (such as underwear and socks), hard to find sizes, or food and clothing items that are in short supply.
5. Any shopping tips?
Bring your imagination and good will!
6. Kids/strollers welcome?
Absolutely! This is a great sale for Halloween, dress-up boxes and special formal events for all ages!
7. Are there costumes for all ages?
Yes, there are traditional kids & adult costumes, but there’s more than that. . . You just never know what you are going to find: from fabulous fabrics to tuxes and tutus. There are items to thrill moms, dads, and kids of all ages.
It’s hard to categorize everything but items include current formal wear for men (tuxes) and women (David’s Bridal, Jessica McClintock, Pink/Blush, Serendipity) vintage clothing (Laura Ashley, Gunny Sack, Madras, Saks), ethnic/cultural/historic clothing, performance black, skirts, pants, shoes (mostly women’s), purses, scarves, boas, dress gloves, hats, wedding wear, and items that defy description.
Every year is a little different. For those who are environmentally conscious, this is the ultimate Recycle and Reuse event in the area! Truly the sale is less a Costume Sale and more a Fashion Extravaganza for an excellent cause!
8. Are you taking donations for costumes?
We prefer that items be donated any time of the year to the FISH Clothing Closet.
FISH is located at 312 Waller Mill Road in the back corner of the Community Services Building. There is an alcove to accept donations when the doors are closed. If you desire a receipt for your donation come during operating hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday between 9 am and 1 pm.
9. Do you only take cash at event?
We take cash, local checks, Master Card, Visa, William & Mary Express, and quite possibly your grouchy two-year old (well, we might offer them a lollipop).
Prices run along thrift store lines ($2-$10), but since this is a one-day sale, it is impossible to price everything. There are of course exceptions; some items are specially priced due to quality (silks, furs, vintage hats, wedding gowns both new and old) and rarity. And of course, it’s for a great cause!
10. Is there a fee to enter?
The event is free.
11. This is so thrilling! Where is it? When can I go?
The event is Wednesday, October 27 from 10 am to 5 pm upstairs in Sadler Center Tidewater A & B on the William & Mary campus.
For a peek at the typical opening moments of the sale, check out this video from 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h60Ih23fJY
12. Any parking tips?
New this year: we will have some reserved parking spots available near the Sadler Center for non-campus community members.
For driving directions to the Sadler Center, visit: http://www.wm.edu/offices/sadlerandcampuscenters/about/directions/index.php
13. If I can’t come to this absolutely fantastic event, how else can I help FISH?
FISH can always use donations of food and new or gently used clothing. Currently, FISH is in need of long pants, particularly children’s sizes between 5T and youth 10.
Consider a family, neighborhood, or club drive for food or clothing any time of the year. For up-to-date needs and volunteer information visit: http://williamsburgfish.weebly.com/
14. So I’m just curious, how much money DOES this sale raise?
Every year we do a little better. In the ‘80s, the sale raised a few hundred dollars. In 2012, the sale raised just over $3,400! This is the equivalent of two month’s rent, and money to buy needed items, hard to find sizes, underwear, or food for the pantry. In 2019 the sale made $5,000 – that’s the price we are aiming to beat! (In 2020 the students ran the sale completely remotely).
Help us break another fundraising record. Come out to have fun, add some splash to your closet, and do something good for your community!
[Photo of author AFTER the Costume Sale]