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The Southwest's largest used book sale returns to Phoenix this weekend

In Phoenix, the second weekend in February is typically all about golf, Super Bowl parties and piles of old books.

If the last one sounds strange, you probably weren’t that kid who waited all year for the Scholastic Book Fair. If you were, we’ll likely find you in line Feb. 12 for the VNSA book sale. Billed as the largest used book sale in the Southwest, VNSA takes over 61,000 square feet at the state fairgrounds, offering thousands of books at a fraction of the original price. And it’s all for a good cause.

Karin Fedo, who chairs the sale, said it was a tough decision to skip the event in 2021.

“It was very tough because like everything else, half the people wanted to proceed and the other half didn’t," Fedo said. "So you just have to make an executive decision about, 'Are we going to get the same crowds?' 'Do we have the right infrastructure to put equipment in place to protect people?' We just couldn’t answer those questions.”

It wasn’t just the shoppers who lost out last year. VNSA stands for Volunteer Nonprofit Service Association, and in 2020, proceeds topped $340,000 — all donated to human service agencies across the Valley.

This year, the sale is bigger than ever.

"There’s about a half-a-million items here, because, keep in mind, we have puzzles — we don’t count those — we have treasures like blank journals and bookmarks and high school yearbooks that people actually come in here and buy. It’s crazy," Fedo said.

It took a solid week just to arrange the merchandise. Volunteers work all year long collecting, sorting and pricing books and other donated items like maps and record albums.

"We have like 27 categories, so ... you might find a rare and unusual first-edition Charles Dickens for $75, or you may be looking for a children’s book that’s 25 cents. It just runs the gamut," Fedo said. "We have our popular books like fiction and suspense; we get brand new copies from Costco and those will be priced at $6 or $7. We get brand new presidential biographies that will be $1. So you can find pretty much anything you want to find here.”

The sale runs Feb. 12 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Feb. 13 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.