By LEE J. KAHRS
BRANDON — It’s been two years since the Great Brandon Auction was held under the white tent in Central Park, and 2020 will make year number three.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 32nd annual fundraiser for the Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce will be a silent auction spanning two weeks and will be held inside the former Browns of Brandon Gift Shop building at 6 Park Street.
The auction is the main fundraiser for the Chamber, whose members have taken a huge financial hit as many businesses closed during the first two-plus months of the pandemic. Building owners Heather and John Bierschenk are donating the use of the space.
Chamber Executive Director Bernie Carr said Monday that the idea came from former Chamber director Janet Mondlak. Volunteers will man the space 4-5 hours a day from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15. There will be various ways to purchase items in the auction. Most gift certificates, new items, original art and more expensive items will be handled through a silent auction. There will also be a “Buy It Now” amount listed on some items so the item can be purchased immediately.
“We just hope this will soften the blow,” Carr said. “We think it’s going to work out pretty well.”
Donations will also continue to be accepted during the two weeks the silent auction is on. Folks are encouraged to visit the storefront daily to check and update their bids and see new items.
Another big difference this year is that the Chamber is requesting that clothes, electronics or appliances, encyclopedias, entertainment centers, computer hutches, exercise equipment, and box lots or items not in good condition no be donated.
“This is a huge change from our 31 auctions past and I hope we can make it a huge success in this bizarre time we’re living in at this moment,” Carr said. “Kids don’t want Grandma’s stuff anymore, they want Ikea or their own stuff.”
Also, the usual 50/50 raffle paid out anywhere from $500-$800 to the winner. This year, the 50/50 raffle will run from July through October, giving the lucky winner a much larger payoff that could be in the thousands of dollars.
“We’re a tough little town and we’ve supported each other through all the travails that have presented themselves to us,” Car wrote in the Chamber newsletter. “Let’s not stop now!”
There is a definite upside to this unconventional indoor version of the Great Brandon Auction. While the auction was always held rain or shine, holding it indoors takes away the stress of worrying about the weather off Carr’s shoulders.
“I can’t tell you how much better I feel,” Carr said with a laugh. “I get sick to my stomach every year worrying about the weather. I love it.”
Donated items can be picked up now, or can be dropped off at the Park Street location. Just call Carr and he’ll meet you there, 236-8120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.