The Ann Arbor chapter of the Kiwanis service organization [1] runs a huge sale at their downtown headquarters at 200 S. First Street at Washington Street near the YMCA every Saturday morning, 9-11:55am. During the week they fulfill their actual purpose of giving donated furniture et al. to those in need, but they make a little extra money on the weekends by opening it to the general public. Call 665-0450 to learn more.

Web site:

For a Kiwanis adventure, enter on the basement level along Washington (also the location for donation drop-offs and large purchase pick-ups) or on the main floor at the First St. corner. The former entrance dumps you at the extensive furniture collection (to your left) and home repair, mattresses and pet carriers (to your right). The latter introduces you more gradually through bookshelves (to your right) and men's clothing (to your left).

Other noteworthy departments include but are not limited to jewelry and linens, dishes, kitchen appliances (spend $25 and they throw in a breadmaker with your purchase!) and women's clothing, including underclothing, on the first floor; electronics and shoes on the mezzanine; and the jaw-dropping wedding dresses collection on the second floor (as of late 2006). (A local bridal shop donated all their samples to Kiwanis on closing. The pickings are probably slim by now, sadly.)

Look for the volunteers in the yellow Kiwanis aprons for assistance, and to pay for your items. Pay the nearest volunteer for each item -- they like to keep their departments segregated, finance-wise. As you return to the Kiwanis treasures, you will get to know certain volunteers and their own spaces, and you will feel truly fortunate.

Kiwanis sponsores the Circle K (organization) student group at the University of Michigan.

How and when to donate

You can drop off donations at Kiwanis Saturday or Monday mornings 9AM-11:30AM. You can also leave a message with your name, telephone, address and approximate size on their answering machine to arrange a pick-up. They even take used cars, but do not take used appliances.

Organizations supported

The back of the donation form you get when you drop off merchandise for Kiwanis lists the organizations they have supported over the last 10 years. They include: