Great bargains help support Obici auxiliary

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A hospital may be the last place one would think to go for clearance prices and fashion items, but that’s exactly what Sentara Obici hospital offered earlier this week.

For two days, Obici hosted a Masquerade Fundraising Sale on its ground floor to help raise funds for the hospital’s auxiliary.

According to the organization’s Web site, Masquerade Fundraising is one of the most requested hospital fundraising partners in the country, and has helped to raise more than $6 million for hospital auxiliaries nationwide.

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“We found out about them by going to the auxiliary conference several years ago,” said Debbie Williams, president of Obici’s auxiliary. “It’s a great fundraiser.”

Through bulk purchases and deals with vendors, Masquerade can offer jewelry lines, fashion accessories and various college memorabilia, all for $5 an item.

“There’s so many of us, and we buy so much volume that we make it happen,” said Toby Everett, the Masquerade representative in Virginia. “I get people that call and want to know where I’m at just so they can come and stock up on things.”

For example, one woman went to one of Everett’s sales and bought more than dozen purses so that she could resell the items on Ebay later that day.

“The women behind her were so mad,” Everett said.

Then there was the record-breaker here in Suffolk, who bought more than $900 of children’s merchandise (stuffed animals, etc.) to resell later.

“That was an all-time record,” Everett said. “But we had what she needed.”

But Everett said that the true shock for customers comes from comparing prices to various retail outlets.

“It’s good, quality stuff and it’s the same stuff that is in basically all the stores now,” Everett said. He once had one woman come up to him and ask where he bought his inventory. Everett explained it was from a vendor, and the woman was furious as she explained that the same necklace he was offering for $5, she had just purchased for $50 the week before.

“It happens all the time,” Everett said.

For example, at Tuesday’s sale, Everett had exercise arm bands that could hold an iPod. Masquerade sells them for $5, while Dick’s Sporting Goods sells them for more than $30.

Even with the prices so low, the money still goes to a good cause. A percentage of the sales goes to the hospital auxiliary, which helps with the hospital’s fundraising and volunteer efforts.

In just two days at Obici, Everett said, the sale should bring in about $8,000.

The Masquerade sale will be back in December, in time for holiday shoppers, Everett said. And for those looking to help the auxiliary year-round, the hospital’s gift shop also helps support the auxiliary operations.