Once a year Panorama transforms into a thrifting bonanza during their Patio Sale the third Saturday of July. Over 1,000 boxes of donated household items are unpacked and arranged in categories in and around the Stiles-Beach Barn, while hundreds of books and all kinds of furniture are brought out at the Encore resale store. “Who could even have imagined!” exclaims Karen Romanelli, member of the volunteer leadership team for the Panorama Patio Sale.  Before she moved to the retirement community in 2015, Karen had heard about the Patio Sale. She thought, okay it’s a big garage sale.

Panorama Patio Sale Leadership Team
Karen Romanelli, Carol Thomas, and Jan Gilmore Patio Sale leadership team. There is a mentor, a doer, and a learner. They rotate and share responsibilities. Photo courtesy: Panorama

And then she saw it set up.

Serious shoppers start arriving around 8:00 a.m. People line up at one of the two gates. The sale opens at 9:00 a.m. sharp. “When the bell rings and they drop the flag, it looks like the beginning of a 5K race,” Karen exclaims. “That’s what I first thought. I could not believe it.”

The sale is in its 49th year and is the main fundraiser for the Panorama Benevolent Fund. The sale seems to grow each year, while organizers are continually refining the process to make the experience fun and easy for shoppers and volunteers alike.

Items are donated throughout the year by Panorama residents. People are constantly bringing things in. There is an area called “The Good Times Table” where all the donations get sorted. Everything is priced, cleaned and made sure it’s in working order before it’s packed and stored away until sale time.

You won’t find clothing, medical related devices like walkers or crutches, golf clubs, or sleeping bags. Those items are donated to help other organizations in the area. Except for that short list, the variety, quality and selection of decor, kitchenware, small appliances, gardening tools, bags, jewelry, fabric, office supplies, and art is unsurpassed.

Panorama Patio Sale Purses
“A lot of people move here and realize they just brought too much stuff.” says Karen. They donate what they no longer need to benefit the Benevolent Fund. Photo courtesy: Panorama

Next to the jewelry area, which always draws a crowd, will be a new collection this year called the Emporium. “If someone is looking for something a little unusual or upscale, they will find those items all in one place at the Emporium,” explains Karen. They are hoping the Emporium will draw people who are looking for high-end items and gifts.

Christmas in July was a new area last year, and it was so popular they are displaying all the Christmas items in one place again this year.

Panorama volunteers do all they can to make the Patio Sale a positive shopping experience. There are 12 cashiers for fast check-out. They have been collecting hundreds of reusable cloth bags to hand out, so people can easily carry their finds. Helpers will take turns as the “Person of the Hour,” to pop up wherever they may be needed to help customers transport awkward or heavy items. “It helps to have some big carts out there because some people buy an awful lot,” shares Karen.

Tired shoppers can take a break and refuel. “We always have food,” Karen assures. “Morning coffee and donuts. Then afternoon hot dogs and ice cream.”

Panorama Patio Sale Appliances
Need a lamp? An iron? The Patio Sale offers an unmatched selection of high quality household items. Photo courtesy: Panorama

The massive sale could not happen without an array of volunteers. Around 500 people help. Set-up begins the Sunday before the sale when cars are moved. Over the next few days portable gazebos and tables are put in place. Then the boxes come out of storage. Karen is joined by two other Panorama residents – Carol Thomas and Jan Gilmore – to form the leadership team that oversees the entire process. There are several other Volunteers In Charge (VIC) who manage specific tasks, like traffic control, cashiers, and security. VICs recruit, train, and oversee their area of operations. “I enjoy watching it come together. It’s just fun. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t,” says Karen.

Most of the volunteers live at Panorama, but a growing number of helpers come from outside the community. “People just want to be a part of it,” says Karen. Many friends and family make a point of visiting that week to help out. “We have some volunteers who come from Alaska. There are people who love to come and work, because it’s just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

One could furnish an entire apartment or even a house at this sale. People have been known to leave with truck loads of treasures. It’s all good stuff getting a second use, and the proceeds go to a very good cause.

Karen’s Tips for Sale Day

  • If you have a list, come early, and check the map, or ask at the information table for the location of particular items.
  • If you don’t like crowds or just want to see what it’s all about, come later in the day, “We will still have plenty of merchandise,” Karen assures.
  • If you want furniture get over to Encore early. The prices are great!
  • Don’t miss the art walk area, the selection is phenomenal and includes empty frames.
  • Shuttle buses will be available to transport people between the Stiles-Beach Barn and Encore. So, no matter where attendees park, they can shop the entire sale.
Panorama Patio Sale Decor
“I’m sure there are so many stories that go along with a lot of this merchandise that comes through here,” Karen muses. Photo courtesy: Panorama

Panorama Patio Sale
Saturday, July 20, 2019
9:00 a.m – 3:00 p.m.

Stiles-Beach Barn
1554 Boulevard Park Lane, Lacey

Encore Furniture & Books
4011 14th Ave SE, Lacey


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