In this treasure hunt, the prize could be anything -- a designer handbag, a piece of sterling silver jewelry, the perfect lamp for the living room, or even a pond for your garden or a motorhome for your driveway. People in Bella Vista have been supporting and shopping the annual "Flea" event at Highlands United Methodist Church for 26 years.
"The 'Flea' started as a neighborhood yard sale held at Branchwood Recreation Center," says Mel Snyder, co-chairwoman of this year's sale. "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."
The church congregation numbers about 330, Snyder says, and "I would guess that approximately 40% actively participate and 60% contribute items."
Snyder says the most interesting donation she remembers was a motorhome. Bella Vista resident Pam Graney remembers in 2019 watching her regular Saturday yard sale companions emptying the car of the morning's finds to make room for a black plastic pond for her friend's garden.
"There was a lot of good jewelry that year, too," she recalls.
Some of the great donations never make it to the sale, admits Jean Galloway, president of the sponsoring United Methodist Women. She went to deliver six totes stuffed with designer handbags as a donation -- and came home having bought a huge metal rooster. "There's all kinds of home decor!"
Whatever you collect or just need for daily use, buying at the Flea is an investment in your neighbors, Galloway says more seriously.
"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 explains. "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.
"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," she goes on. "In 2019, we distributed over $16,000 to the 15-plus women's and children's organizations we support."
Of course, the pandemic put the sale on hold in 2020, she adds, and "our fundraising efforts suffered. We were not able to offer the level of financial support we are accustomed to giving even though the needs of these individual organizations continued as usual. [So] this year, we are looking forward to seeing a lot of our Bella Vista friends and neighbors shopping for treasures and bargains at the Flea!"
What: Hundreds of donations of everything from cookware to furniture to decor for sale
When: This year’s sale has been expanded to two days, June 11 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and June 12 from 8 a.m. to noon.
Where: Highlands United Methodist Church, 371 Glasgow Road in Bella Vista
Cost: Admission is free
Bonus: In addition to the Flea, the event offers a Coffee Shop which sell large cookies, bars and cinnamon rolls.