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Turn second-hand items into art at Iowa City’s annual Rummage in the Ramp


Rummage in the Ramp

Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp (415 E Washington St) — July 26 through Aug. 3

Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp — photo by Jordan Sellergren

The traditional garage sale moves out of the garage and into a parking ramp when Iowa City’s nine-day Rummage in the Ramp kicks off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at the Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp, 415 E Washington St. And this year, rummagers can win money by turning their purchases into art.

People wishing to donate unwanted, but usable, items to the sale can bring them to the parking ramp during sale hours. Iowa City residents can also schedule an appointment for volunteers to pick up donations. The city’s website has information on how to make donations, and what items may be donated. (For example, the city does not want “Items beyond usefulness,” “Items with an objectionable odor” or waterbeds.)

Most donated items will be on sale for prices ranging from $1 to $20, and for the second time, Rummage in the Ramp will feature an art contest. The Rummage ReDux Challenge is open to anyone who buys an item at the sale. The city describes it as “an opportunity to transform used items found at Rummage in the Ramp from serviceable to spectacular.”

“People just need to fill out a form when they shop at the sale, so we know they’re participating,” said Public Art Program Coordinator Marcia Bollinger.

The Rummage ReDux Challenge was held once before, in 2015. That year, the participants were limited to three invited artists, Bollinger explained. “But this year, it’s open to everyone,” she said. “I really don’t have any idea what to expect.”

Entries will be put on display at the sale on Wednesday, Aug. 2. Judging will occur at 5:30 p.m., and judges will be looking for “imaginative reuse and overall improvement [of the purchased item], quality of work, ability to be completed affordably and within a reasonable time period and presentation and thoroughness of the storyboard [documenting the project from start to finish],” according to the city’s website. The first place winner will receive $300. Second place receives $200 and third place wins $100.

“I hope people will look at the entries, and think ‘I can do that myself,’” Bollinger said. “And they’ll be inspired to transform their own finds from the sale.”

According to the city, Rummage in the Ramp has resold 245 tons of items that otherwise may have ended up in landfills, since it began in 2007. The annual event has also raised a total of $147,100, which the city has donated to local nonprofits.


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