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Buyers find a bonanza at Saint-Gobain sale.

Byline: Bradford L. Miner

WORCESTER - For the do-it-yourself crowd, yesterday's first-ever surplus sale at Saint-Gobain was the place to be.

The early birds were also the lucky ones. In the first-come, first-served, cash and carry exchange, they claimed diamond saw blades for about $5 each, a fraction of the $50 or so a similar item might have cost on eBay.

The "Clipper" blades were not the only item in demand, however. Shoppers filled boxes with items ranging from sanding sheets and gloves to grinding wheels, microfiber cloths, polishing disks and sharpening stones.

The scene in the parking lot of the Saint-Gobain visitor reception area on Shore Drive was a cross between Christmas morning and a flea market, and it was all to benefit the United Way of Central Massachusetts.

"I didn't see too many who walked away without finding something they wanted," said one Saint-Gobain employee in a "Live United" sweatshirt.

Occasional wind gusts sent lightweight items skittering across the pavement until someone gathered them up and used some of the heavier, large-diameter grinding wheels to hold them in place.

Trish Dawson, product manager for bonded abrasives, said all items being sold were brought from a warehouse in Indiana, where they had been stored.

The wares ranged from specialized items, such as abrasives for grinding and polishing metal in auto body shops, to sanding sheets, gloves and sponges common to most home workbenches.

Up and down the line of tables, the question of "How much?" was usually met with a cheery "A dollar" or "Two dollars."

June Fitton, a Saint-Gobain employee, said the response to the sale had been overwhelming. People were waiting at 8:15 a.m. for the sale, which was slated to start at 9.

"We didn't have a chance to get fully set up," she said, making change for one customer while answering another's question about where to look for an item.

"People have been very generous this morning. If the total came to $18, they'd give me a twenty and say keep the change," Ms. Fitton said.

Men outnumbered women 10-to-1, and several said they had learned of the surplus sale from a public service announcement airing on WTAG radio.

"That was me," Ms. Fitton said.

"This is the first time we've ever tried something like this. Typically we don't sell overstocks to the general public, but we thought it would be an innovative way to raise money for the United Way," Ms. Dawson said.

Last year, the company's corporate, employee and retiree donation to the United Way of Central Massachusetts totaled $370,000.

Asked her goal for the sale, Ms. Dawson said she had no expectations, but the steady turnout throughout the blustery morning suggested a success.

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Nicholas Allain of Grafton carries boxes of abrasives products to his car yesterday during Saint-Gobain's surplus sale. He bought about $150 worth of goods at the sale.

PHOTOG: T&G Staff/TOM RETTIG
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Oct 17, 2010
Words:489
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