Wayne Bell’s $3,000 bid won him all of the 1970s-era white, yellow and lime-green plastic chairs and tables from Goodyear’s old corporate headquarters cafeteria.
Bell, from Oakland, Calif., barely finished walking out of the theater at Goodyear Hall late Wednesday morning when he resold 50 of the 200 or so chairs and tables to another interested buyer at $50 apiece.
“I got $2,500 back already before they even moved,” Bell said.
He plans to ship any remaining pieces to California for eventual resale.
The auction of those cafeteria items and thousands of other no-longer-needed Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. furniture, fixtures and equipment was more than just a trip down memory lane — although it was that, too, for some attendees.
Scattered among the 150 to 200 people in Goodyear Hall were people like Bell, who make a living by buying items on the cheap at auctions and reselling them. The 54-year-old Bell said he’s been staying in Warren the past two months as part of his main business, buying and selling scrap. He’s been spending time in Northeast Ohio selling off pieces he bought at a liquidated business in Warren and jumped at the chance to bid on the Goodyear items.
“I’m going to be the last man standing,” Bell vowed.
He expected the auction, which started at 9 a.m., was going to run into the night at Goodyear Hall. He planned to stay for the whole thing, anticipating being able to pick up more bargains along the way.
“I’m going to go back in and see if people’s money is running out,” he said.
Bell stood out among the Goodyear Hall crowd with what he says is now his trademark: A pink hard hat he’s been wearing to auctions since December. (To make a long story short, he initially bought the hard hat as a fun gift to impress a woman.)
“[Auctioneers] now know the guy with the pink hard hat,” Bell said, smiling. “I just buy and sell.”
The auction is intended to clear out about 2 million square feet of space to make room for the renovation of the former Goodyear headquarters and Goodyear Hall. The sale included furniture and fixtures in the famed Mahogany Row executive office suite. The campus is now owned by California-based Industrial Realty Group and is scheduled to be turned into new offices, retail space and restaurants. Goodyear’s new $160 million corporate headquarters that opened earlier this year is about a half mile from the site on Innovation Way.
Lead auctioneer Lance Mannion, vice president of North Carolina-based Asset Sales Inc., which organized and conducted the sale, stood on one side of the theater stage as images of items were projected behind him. People could also bid online.
A lot of the stuff was going cheap.
A combined lot of stainless steel service and coffee stations sold for $200.
“That is nice restaurant equipment you are buying,” Mannion said to a successful bidder.
“Wow, man, that was a great buy,” he said to another.
Kim Scholten and her fiance, Sean Fagan, successfully bid on a lot of 15 portable industrial carts that they intend to refurbish and sell at their Cleveland retail business, Four and Twenty. The couple moved to Cleveland from New York City more than two years ago.
“We were interested in industrial carts,” Fagan said.
“We sell vintage and industrial stuff,” Scholten said. “We do useful antiques.”
The carts they bought likely will appeal to retailers, she said.
“They can use them for retail display,” she said.
Scholten noted that she had another connection to the auction: Her father worked for Goodyear for 33 years.
Hartville resident James Westfall walked into Goodyear Hall and said he wasn’t expecting to bid on much, if anything.
“Too much trouble to haul it out of here,” he said.
Westfall is a 90-year-old World War II veteran, a gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber. He said he worked for Goodyear from 1942 to 1981, including spending time as a mechanic for the company’s Corsair fighters.
Westfall said though he was a long-time Goodyear employee, he got his first tour of the Mahogany Row executive offices on Tuesday as part of the auction preview process. He wasn’t as impressed as he thought he was going to be.
“I thought it was better than [what I saw],” Westfall said.
Kurt Willgues, 49-year-old owner of the Ultimate Flooring store in Green and also a warehouse and storage business, came to the auction to bid on Mahogany Row small marble-top office tables. He and his wife, who likes antiques, toured the Goodyear buildings on Tuesday to look at all of the items, he said.
While Willgues waited in the Goodyear Hall lobby for the antique tables to go to auction, he recognized that sitting near him was Bell, the winner of the cafeteria chairs and tables.
“I want just a couple of chairs,” Willgues said.
In particular, he said he wanted lime-green chairs that would match the color of a couple of Arctic Cat snowmobiles he owns.
In short time they made a deal for four chairs, leaving Bell at that point just $300 from breaking even on his $3,000 purchase.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or email@example.com.