News & Blog

Photo by Broadmead resident Erroll Hay

A Vital Broadmead Tradition: The Barn Sale

By Pat van den Beemt and Jackie Mintz

Everyone at Broadmead knows about the Barn Sale—a major twice-yearly volunteer-run fundraiser. Some 108 people—about one-quarter of the residents—helped out at the last sale, held on November 3 and 4. Some staffed Barn Sale departments, while others volunteered in the Old and New Shop; still others helped move furniture that was sold during the event. Proceeds from all three areas go into the Greater Barn Sale account of the Broadmead Residents Association (BRA).

The spring and fall Greater Barn Sales contributed more than $20,000 to the BRA to fund myriad activities here on campus.

The idea for the Barn Sale goes back to Broadmead’s beginnings. It wasn’t long after the first folks moved here in 1979 that they asked, “What should we do with all the stuff we brought here but don’t really need?” The answer? Sell it.

Nine residents got together and organized the first Barn Sale, held on Nov. 28, 1980. It raised $1,374. Over the years, the sale became a two-day semi-annual event that was widely advertised and drew hundreds of customers. Mini-Barn Sales were also held to get rid of excess items.

Anne Minkowski, a previous Barn Sale chair, said banners used to be hung at Broadmead’s entrance and the public streamed in to shop. She paid movers $3,500 during each sale to move inventory from a workroom to be displayed on both levels of Broadmead Center. Furniture was also hauled over from Holly House, where it was stored between sales.

Back then, each department had its own cashier. Purchases were by cash or check—no credit cards. Several volunteers spent the day simply counting money from all the cashiers.

Things were moving along in this manner until dual complications occurred: Covid and the implementation of the Master Plan. Barn Sale co-chairs Stan Wilson and Lucy Wright, who had taken over from Anne, faced a dire situation: they lost both space and the opportunity to hold sales. Joined in leadership by Judy Lorenz, and heeding the adage “Don’t waste a disaster,” they turned what could have been a catastrophe into an opportunity to modernize and improve Barn Sale organization and procedures.

They devised a simplified new plan: Hold two Barn Sales a year on the lower level of the Center. Open the sales to just residents, employees, their friends and families, and those on the marketing list. Instead of paying for advertising, go with word of mouth.

With new lightweight tables and storage equipment, and by keeping everything on one floor, the need for expensive outside movers was eliminated.

Now, clothing is sold directly from the Barn Sale workroom. Jewelry, household goods, books and appliances are sold from elsewhere on the same floor. Furniture is not only sold during Barn Sales, but is also available for purchase all year, displayed in the furniture store room and the lower level back hall.

Lucy devised a new process for donations. Instead of having residents drop off unwanted items at any time, donations are received by volunteers every Thursday. Incoming residents receive a brochure about donating to the Barn Sale, as do families of residents who vacate their homes.

Looking forward, Stan, Lucy and Judy continue to work toward building teams of volunteers for ongoing Barn Sale activities. “What better way is there to serve our community, meet fellow residents and have fun at the same time?,” asked Stan Wilson.

In addition to Stan (chair), Lucy and Judy, the Executive Committee for the Greater Barn Sale includes Tom Boytim, Connie McCulloch and Elsa Collins.

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