Serendipitous Finds At OLM Yard Sale

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Kim Stromberg turns to show the intricate bead work on the unique leather jacket that she found at the sale, which went on last weekend and continues this weekend.

In the parish announcements at the end of Mass on Sunday at Our Lady of Malibu, there was a reminder for the annual OLM Yard Sale, which has been running for over 50 years.

“You know there’s something out there that you are meant to have,” went the announcement, which drew some laughter from the congregation.

However, those words seemed to ring true for many parishioners and visitors to the church, who had some serendipitous finds at the Yard Sale.

Susan Vance from Santa Monica had a Volvo full of wooden chairs as she prepared to leave the sale this weekend.

“I bought chairs that my husband’s got to do a lot of work on,” said Vance, whose family has worshipped at OLM for around 35 years and attended the Yard Sale for close to 20. 

The best thing Vance remembers finding at the sale was around four years ago. 

“I found a pair of Italian men’s shoes barely worn and they fit my son perfectly,” said Vance, who added, “he still wears them to this day.” 

How’s that for serendipity? 

Vance’s chairs were picked from this year’s eclectic mix of dozens of pieces of furniture spread out around the front of the church — enough furniture to fill a very eccentric mansion. 

In tents sit bookshelves full of random reads and tables overflowing with everything from children’s toys to Halloween decorations. In a special room is the “boutique,” full of more valuable items. 

Clothes from every style and seemingly every decade are hung on racks that fill the OLM school cafeteria, where the walls are lined with shelves of shoes, knick-knacks, tablewares and record albums. 

The record table on Sunday afternoon was a popular spot, too. 

“I saw the records and couldn’t help myself,” said Christian Babikian, a Pepperdine alumnus and apparent musical luddite who was carefully combing through the collection. 

The best thing Babikian found at the sale, according to him, was an Aerosmith Live album case, but he was also considering purchasing Three Dog Night Live at the Forum. 

Babikian mentioned that he’d never seen a show at the Forum, but his friend had recently been there. 

“We were actually just talking about this album last night,” Babikian shared. 

Serendipity strikes again. 

In the clothing racks, a mother and daughter from Calabasas were trying on clothes. 

“I heard there was a Catholic church here, so we came to church and saw signs for the yard sale,” said Heather Buxton, who moved to Calabasas from Illinois around a year ago. 

Buxton said that on top of “loving” the service and the community feel of OLM, the sale was a fun surprise. 

“We used to [go to yard sales] a lot back in Illinois,” said Buxton, who was taking the opportunity to do some back-to-school shopping with her daughter, a high school senior. While I spoke to Buxton, she and her daughter added a gray faux-fur wrap to the “yes” pile. 

It seemed that serendipity had struck for the Buxtons on Sunday as well. 

From the perspective of the shoppers, these finds may seem to appear as if they were “meant” to have them. However, there is a strong force behind the yard sale: a team of 32 volunteers. 

Beverly Gleason, a Malibu resident and longtime parishioner at OLM, has been one of the volunteers for about five years. 

She explained that the sale takes about a month of setup, including hanging each article of clothing, sorting everything into departments, testing electronics and pricing each item. 

“My favorite part is giving people things they need, for a very, very, very reasonable price,” said Gleason. “Everyone is delighted and they get a lot of cluck for their buck.” 

By the time the after-Mass rush came in on Sunday, Gleason had already been helping with checkout for four hours, and would be there for another five, as volunteers usually come in at 8 a.m. and don’t leave until around 5 p.m. 

For those who are interested in seeing if there’s “something out there that they’re meant to have,” the sale remains open next weekend, Saturday and Sunday Aug. 9 and 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All proceeds from the sale benefit the OLM church renewal project.