I’m a kid at heart and I’m always lookin’ for a game,” said Karen Love of the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce. Earlier this year she and Angela Lagan, coordinator of the city’s Welcome Center, were dreaming up a playful way to raise money.
“We both like Flea Market Flip,” Lagan said. It’s the HGTV television series that features contestants who recycle and transform objects, following themed categories, into new treasures that hopefully sell. The team that has the highest net profit by the deadline wins bragging rights and a prize.
Add the local and established Junk in the Trunk and Art Walk events to the mix and the result is Gulfport’s newest craze called JITT Flip.
The inaugural version was “a great fundraiser,” Lagan said. The Gulfport Neighbors charity benefitted from the entry fees and 25 percent of each item that sold.
The local chamber teamed with the Gulfport Neighbors, sponsors of JITT, for the Flip competition. The Welcome Center is a joint project of the chamber and the Gulfport Merchants Association.
Here’s how the local Flip contest works.
At JITT, held twice a year at the 49th Street Neighborhood Center, Gulfport residents drop off unwanted items for free recycling or disposal. They can also find a treasure and give it a new home at no charge. At the April 23 event, Flip contestants could pay a $10 entry fee and were encouraged to pick up as many items as they desired. The three themed categories to choose from were: china challenge, funky light design and marriage of styles. Eight people registered by the deadline.
The group had until the May 6 Art Walk, held twice a month, to envision and finish their entry, create sales pitches and marketing materials, and set a starting price for the bargaining process. The item selling for the highest total amount would win the contest and a custom trophy made out of, you guessed it, recycled items from JITT.
Five people made it to the common sales tent at the Welcome Center on Beach Blvd. From 6 to 9 p.m., they smiled, joked and listened to each other as they hawked their items to hoards of curious onlookers and potential buyers.
“This green chair matches your outfit!” barked Tony Spinney at a potential buyer. He was the representative and husband of contestant Christine Gallagher who was out of town visiting her mother for Mother’s Day. “Much perseverance was the key,” he said. He told the story of the chair to every person who walked by.
Before the transformation, the 1970s era chair fabric was mustard yellow, its legs were uneven and a piece of the wood frame was broken.
“It was a solid chair but our puppy starting tearing up the stuffing and we had horsehair all over the house,” said the artist later.
Gallagher, who has a two-year college degree in fine arts, said she was inspired for the “marriage” theme by the 1434 iconic oil painting on wood by Jan van Eyck known as “The Arnolfini Portrait.”
Transforming the chair was “a crazy project that was consuming my life,” she said. “It was the first time I’ve ever done anything with furniture. I would spend three to four hours a day on it trying different paints and sanding.”
In addition to Gallagher, other sales contestants were Carol Vitelli, Margo Dalgetty and Donna Cathcart with entries in the lamp category, while Nisey Talkacevic also competed using the marriage theme by transforming a discarded English hunt painting into a wall art piece entitled “Mermaid Saving A Landfill.”
Vitelli’s shadeless mermaid-Medusa lamp sold first for $35 followed by Dalgetty’s polymer clay accent lamp and Talkacevic’s piece to the same buyer at $60 each creating a high-sales tie.
“At this point, the remaining two contestants started having a fire sale and Spinney offered delivery,” Lagan said.
After the two-minute-to-deadline warning was announced, Spinney made the last sale at $65 to win. The chair was delivered to a Gulfport resident at 9:15 p.m. Cathcart’s combination lamp, bird feeder-bath creation did not sell.
A total donation of $161.25 was raised as Vitelli donated 100 percent of her sale to the charity. Said Lagan, “We’re going to do the Flip again.”
The next JITT is planned for October 22, 2016. And the following Art Walk featuring Flip contestants selling their treasures will be in early November.