Rogue Valley Manor Big Sale volunteer Ann Landreth helps Barbara Guichard with her purchases of silver sauternes wine glasses and an anniversary teapot that she will use to celebrate her 55th wedding anniversary. The sale opens to the public today. - Bob Pennell

Manor's BIG Sale

Looking for a drop-leaf table with matching chairs? How about some glassware or exercise equipment?

The Medford Armory becomes a vast showroom of pre-owned merchandise this weekend as it hosts the annual Rogue Valley Manor Big Sale.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

"When the doors opened last year, the line was wrapped all the way around the building," says Wayne Harris, one of the coordinators and a manor resident.

Harris, like many other residents, will be working the sales floor this weekend. Others prefer to stay behind the scenes.

"Planning begins in October," says Harris. "We have a pick-up crew that collects donations twice a week from the apartments. We have a sorting room crew, and a clean-up crew that goes in when an apartment is vacated. The linens crew cleans every towel, every sheet, that goes up for sale."

In all, it takes the coordinated efforts of about 400 residents to make the sale a success, he estimates.

Shoppers can expect bargains on everything from lamps, jewelry and furniture to electronics, sporting goods and gardening tools. Merchandise will be neatly organized throughout the main floor and upper levels of the building. Step out the back door, and you'll find even more stuff.

All of it once belonged to manor residents.

"People move in, and just don't have room for everything in their apartments. Or residents die," explains Dick Warren, sales crew member.

The event used to be held at the manor, though the location is not the only thing that has changed in recent years. The old format of bidding on items has been replaced. Each item is now clearly priced.

As volunteers Wanda Snow and Barbara MacDonald put it, "We've gone from Bid Sale to Big Sale."

On Thursday, sales team members practiced their pitches on a flurry of early shoppers — fellow residents and Manor employees who were allowed first crack at the merchandise.

"You get to meet a lot of people," says Ramona Templin, a volunteer. Price hagglers aren't usually a problem, though occasionally someone might complain that a price is too high, she says.

"I tell the complainers to come back on Sunday, when everything is half price," says Barbara Donaldson. "And a lot of them do."

"I like the idea of the sale," says Don Lewis. "Things don't get thrown away. They get recycled."

"Golf clubs are always popular, though a lot of people are interested in the wrenches so far," reports Vince Lepore, who's volunteering in the Sporting Goods & Tools Department.

Proceeds from the sale benefit the Rogue Valley Manor Foundation and the community services it supports, including the Fairy Godmother Scholarship Fund.

Will shoppers be cautious with their cash this year?

"The economy might affect sales," admits Dick Warren. "Then again, it's a great place to find bargains. So maybe the economy will help sales."

At Thursday's presale, manor employee Debbie Murray considered buying tea cups, but eventually walked away from the table.

Barbara Guichard, however, was thrilled with her purchase of a set of wine glasses.

"Now I have something nice to serve sauternes in," she says, explaining that sauternes is a sweet dessert wine from north of Bordeaux.

Paul Hadella is a freelance writer living in Talent. Reach him at

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