March 11, 2002 – When the front gate opened at the Humane Society of St. Thomas Saturday morning, it looked like the starting gun had gone off at a road race as eager shoppers clad mostly in sneakers and shorts charged in. But it was simply the start of the shelter's two-day weekend spring flea market sale.
Bargains there were, from Wedgwood china to a Ford Escort station wagon. Volunteer Frankie Santana, who supervised the event, was delighted. "They came like they were going to a horse race," he said after the last shopper had left on Sunday afternoon. "It was a better turnout than we expected — about 300 to 400 each day — and the weather was great. It was supposed to be 70 percent chance of showers."
Santana, who owns the Fine Friends of Feathers pet shop in Bovoni, said the sale grossed about $8,000, a figure he was very pleased with. "It's the volunteers," Santana said. "We had about 24 on Saturday and 15 on Sunday. They did everything, from selling to cooking johnny cakes and chicken legs at our refreshment stand and sorting through all the boxes of things."
Two of the volunteers, Susan and Terry Rawson, were tending an impressive display of china, porcelain and crystal. As she rearranged a group of crystal bowls, Susan Rawson wondered, "Do you suppose this is a good price? I'm never certain how much to charge." She said much of the merchandise came from the estate sales of island personalities Amalia Milliner and Ellen Soufront-Payer.
Susan Rawson admitted she had been at a Water Island auction recently where she found "unbelievable good deals" on some of the items. She picked one plate from a stack. "These are the Meakin 'Birds of America' series, the official plates of the Audubon Society," she said. "I got them for a song; nobody seemed to realize what they were."
Drifting by with an armload of T-shirts, Joe Aubain, Humane Society board chair, stopped before the plate Rawson was displaying. "Wow, that's so cool," he said, vowing to come back after the public had had its chance at the bargains.
Along with the plates, the makeshift table displayed fine Spode, Wedgwood and Royal Copenhagen china, a Jensen bowl of "highest quality Danish silver," and "lots of stuff from home I just have to get rid of," Rawson said.
Coffeemakers, computers, stuffed animals, jewelry, clothing, baby swings and plants also got attention. "These are real tough guys," Omar Ledee of Sunshine Plant Nursery said, showing a bamboo palm. Ledee, who had all sort of flora on sale, said he was sharing a percentage of the proceeds with the shelter. "It's a good thing to do," he said.
The weekend sale, along with the regular Sunday flea markets, the annual Valentine "Doggie" Ball and personal donations, helps support the shelter. which has long been promised, but has yet to receive, thousands of dollars in government funding for the public services it provides.


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