Like any sound strategist, Bobbie Evans and Nicci Mayes had a plan of attack before their Grocery Outlet Bargain Market shopping spree in Oakhurst last Thursday. Appropriately dressed in red tees, shorts and comfy tennies, the two came ready to race the aisles and perfectly maneuver those sharp turns.
The winning bidder at April’s Elegant Auction, Evans won a 3-minute 20-second spree, in which alcohol was excluded and only one of each item could be grabbed to fill a single shopping cart.
Up to the very last moment, Evans and Mayes, both Walt Bannon Drilling managers, were pre-occupied in refining their game plan. Would they quickly toss items inside the cart or arrange them carefully to allow for more space? Would they build walls inside the cart’s perimeter to allow them to grow taller and higher?
The excitement heightened as the countdown began. “10, 9, 8, .... ,” market owner Brandon Steele called out as the pair crouched, ready to spring for a speedy takeoff.
“Go,” and they were off and running.
By focusing on just a few aisles, and with Mayes’ youngest son, Frankie, keeping track of the time, the two were easily able to fill a grocery cart overflowing with items, including a large garden umbrella, cookware set, dog bed, beach game, an assortment of cheeses for Evans’ bridal shower, and a large bag of Beef Jerky for Frankie.
Once time was called, Evans had the chance to guesstimate the total cost of the items, within $3.20 either way, for an additional prize of a $32 gift card - 32 in honor of the 32nd Elegant Auction.
The amount totaled $322.97. Evans guess: $320.
“What are the odds,” Brandon asked. “We stuck with 32 because it was the 32nd Annual Elegant Auction, and the total was $322. We couldn’t have planned it any better.” Brandon then upped the gift card from $32 to $132.
All items the racing shoppers collected went home with Mayes, who said Frankie, a 2017 YHS graduate, will take a few with him to Reedley College.
“Nicci has been a blessing to us, a wonderful employee for 13 years,” Evans explained, “and it’s the least we can do for her. It’s important that employees know how much they’re appreciated.”
Evans, 37, is the fiancé of Chris Duncanson, who owns Walt Bannon Drilling. They have been big supporters of the park auction for years, and Duncanson’s mother, Sunny, is one of the auction’s founding committee members.
“We (Walt Bannon Drilling) bid on this because it was a fun item at the Elegant Auction,” said Evans, who won with a bid of $700. “I’m so happy. This shopping spree was an amazing experience. Chris and I are very invested in this community, and it’s important for us to give back. It’s all about supporting the community park, something the Steeles (Brandon and Jessica), and Chris and I care about. It’s such a wonderful place for our kids. I take my son, Otis (2), there often.”
While this is the first time the Steeles have done anything like this, Jessica said they hope to make it an annual event.
“We are very excited to be able to offer a unique experience that also provides funds for the park,” Brandon added. “Not only did the winner of the auction have a great time, but the generous donation will allow families to continue to enjoy the Oakhurst Community Park. It’s a win win.”
Coming down from a surge of adrenalin, Mayes said, “The nervousness ended when the shopping began. This was fun. I feel like I just saved the world and now I will go back to work to answer the phones.”
Chris is the third generation owner of Walt Bannon Drilling, which was handed down by his grandparents, Walt and Juanita Bannon, and parents Russell and Sunny Duncanson.