Brandon Woods residents raising money through ‘Bonanza’ sale and giving it all to hourly workers

Brandon Woods residents, from left, Richard Howard, Jane Baker and Sally Davis discuss items collected for Saturday’s Brandon Woods Bonanza. All three are volunteer members of the Employee Recognition Committee, a group tasked with collecting Christmas bonuses for hourly employees at the retirement facility.

After more than 30 years as an antique store owner, Jane Baker gained a dislike of the phrase “How much is that worth?”

“I don’t like that, because it’s worth about as much as you can get for it,” Baker said.

Prior to retiring in 2013, Baker owned Springs Antiques in Eureka Springs, Ark., with her husband. The couple settled back in Lawrence, her hometown, moving to Brandon Woods at Alvamar.

Baker retained her keen buyer’s eye during her time in the senior living facility, and she has also learned something about who can benefit from a sale.

Baker and a volunteer group of residents are holding the Brandon Woods Bonanza tag sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the main-entrance parking lot off Inverness Drive and Bob Billings Parkway. The group, known as the Employee Recognition Committee, raises funds every year to give bonuses to hourly employees at the facility.

If you go

What: Brandon Woods Bonanza tag sale

Where: Brandon Woods at Alvamar, main entrance parking lot off Inverness Drive and Bob Billings Parkway

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16

Baker said the sale started off as one donation by a former resident leaving the complex. The committee thought about giving the donated items away, but Baker said she saw too much value in the collection.

“It’s just too nice to let it go the way of the wind,” Baker said. “We thought, ‘Maybe we’ll just have a little sale.’ Well, a little sale became a very big one.”

The committee started receiving donations from residents, then family members, before eventually getting items from people not even connected to Brandon Woods. The group quickly became overloaded, Baker said.

Sally Davis, another member of the committee, said they started turning away items two weeks ago.

“We still have people calling, but we had to stop taking new donations,” Davis said.

The sale now has 70 volunteers, who average about 85 years in age, covering 12 sections, including antiques, framed artwork and vintage jewelry. The group said none of the tagged items cost more than $100, with most priced at $25 or less. Two items, a 12-piece china set and a 12-piece sterling silver set, will be put up for silent auction.

This football, signed by former Kansas football coach Mark Mangino, is one of the bigger ticket items at the Brandon Woods Bonanza on Saturday, Sept. 16. The sale will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Everything isn’t just fantastic, but it’s also at a wonderful bargain price,” Davis said.

The group started collecting funds in 2008 as a response to Brandon Woods’ no-tip policy.

Last year, the group raised more than $40,000 to give out as Christmas bonuses to employees.

Donna Bell, Brandon Woods director of public relations, said the no-tipping policy is in place to avoid promoting preferential treatment toward wealthier residents.

“We want every resident to feel special and get great service regardless of an ability to tip,” Bell said.

Bell said the fundraising alternative has helped tips reach all employees, including those not always recognized by the residents.

“You don’t see the dishwasher, but that person is critically important to customer satisfaction,” she said. “Then there is the nursing staff. People that you just don’t see. I think it’s special that this resident group cares about them. They care about every single team member that we have here.”

Baker said the fundraising also adds more meaning for the residents than simply writing a check to the employees.

“It adds a little emotion to it,” Baker said.

With that said, Baker still is not sure if the Bonanza itself will become an annual tradition.

“I don’t think we can do this again at our age,” she said. “We will have to find somebody younger to come in and haul all this stuff around.”

Baker said all items will receive a price cut around 2 p.m. with additional haggling to sell off all items before close, as everything must go.