Treasure hunting at the Textile Garage Sale, part 1/2

Last month the Textile Center held its annual Textile Garage Sale. I hadn’t been in a couple years since my last sewing phase. With a friend, we drove over to the University of Minnesota’s ReUse Program warehouse on Saturday. Parked in the adjacent lot for $4. Doors opened at 9am and we rolled in a little after 10am; already people were walking out with enormous bags and I panicked on the inside. What if all the good stuff was taken?


The ReUse warehouse is exactly that; a big rectangular building with high shelves of castoffs from the university.  Chairs from various eras, sturdy desks, more chairs, lab equipment, the random popcorn machine…did I mention they have a lot of chairs? It’s open to the public on Thursday mornings and their Facebook page lists new items on Wednesdays, often with amusing captions.

An interior shot of the ReUse warehouse, courtesy of UMN

Some of the aisles are consequently made wide to allow for forklifts and items that couldn’t make it onto the shelves. They also make a perfect place to hold a textile garage sale. People donate their unwanted textile-related goods – sewing machines, weaving looms, yarn, fabric, etc – and volunteers bravely sort through and price everything the Thursday evening prior. On Friday you can attend a preview sale for $25-35  and Saturday is open to everyone for the more acceptable entry price of $2.

I didn’t need to worry about not finding anything. After my eye adjusted to the dim lighting, two enormous aisles presented themselves. The first was filled with books, magazines, bins of sewing patterns, and sewing machines. The second – as seen below – was filled with yarn, fiber, knitting/weaving/sewing notions, and best of all, A TON OF FABRIC.

The fabric/yarn/notions aisle

A couple of tips when diving through such a divine yet chaotic place:

  • Bring a snack and a bottle of water
  • Bring hand sanitizer
  • Bring a Benedryl if you’re allergic to dust
  • Bring a tote bag or collapsible shopping cart
  • Be really, really patient

Anti-anxiety meds are also work great if you hate crowds! Some people had backpacks or wagons, which was smart. I brought a collapsible shopping tote, which worked great but gave me a crick in the neck after walking around a few hours with all the weight on one side. They stamp your hand upon entry so you can walk out and take a breather. They also had a “coat check” where you could check in a big pile of goods before diving in to find more. Smart ladies.

I brought water, but a snack would have helped. Thankfully, I ate breakfast before leaving. Volunteers walked through, bravely trying to re-organize the shelves and tables of fabric and what not. A Sisyphean task, as another wave of shoppers would pick through and create more work.

An example of what you have to dig through

I took photos on my phone, but they turned out blurry on account of needing more food and a break. My hands were feeling very shaky. Perhaps it was from all the excitement of rooting through so much fabric. Probably a combination of both. Next post is about my finds.


2 thoughts on “Treasure hunting at the Textile Garage Sale, part 1/2

  1. This looks awesome! I live in East Lansing and Michigan State has a store similar to this one. I just can’t stay out of there! I hope you found lots of cool stuff. Thanks for posting.


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