ST. PETERSBURG — The majority of the 600 people who came to the Pier auction Tuesday were driven by cents on the dollar, not sentiment. The meat that still clung to the 40-year-old bones was picked clean by savvy business owners and resellers in less than eight hours.
From fire extinguishers and grill scrapers to tiki huts and cement trash cans, thousands of items were sold to the highest bidder.
"Think how many tomatoes it sliced for those 1905 salads," auctioneer Jimmy Sosnowski said as he took bids on a Wedgemaster vegetable slicer at the Columbia. It went for $25.
Restaurant owners showed up in force. They bought picnic tables for $100 to $200 and umbrellas for $20. Cha Cha Coconuts bar stools went for $30, while some of the Columbia's tables were $20 each.
Look for remnants from the Pier when you eat at any of the following: Stone Soup Cafe & Pub, St. Pete Brasserie, The Amsterdam in St. Petersburg, The Blues Ship Cafe in Ybor City, Nosh in Oldsmar, East Bay Golf Club in Largo, Hogan's Beach in Tampa and Beach Snoballs in Treasure Island.
Bargain hunters came from throughout Tampa Bay.
Don Ackerman was there with his pastor seeking deals for Calvary Tabernacle Church in Zephyrhills. They bought several concrete benches that lined the approach of the Pier for $70 each.
Andy Orfitelli will sell the glass display cases he nabbed for $50 each at the Airport Farmers' & Flea Market in Brooksville.
Mazen Fares of Ellenton got 24 leather wallets for $6 each. He's putting them on eBay.
Gary Griesinger bought elaborate crystal jewelry from the Glass Mirage for less than half the retail price for his girlfriend to sell at antique shows in Acadia.
Some shoppers, however, were clearly swayed by nostalgia. Though just two people bid on the Cha Cha Coconuts neon sign featuring a sunset and waves, that was all it took. They bandied the starting bid of $100 up to a final bid of $1,000 in a matter of seconds.
"I collect neon. I'll hang this on the wall. It represents St. Petersburg," Carolyn Wilburn said. She outbid Sue Peters, who had already bought a framed poster featuring the Pier and several restaurants for $450. Peters moved here just three weeks ago but was bidding for her daughter, a big fan of the Pier who was stuck at work in Tampa.
Jillian Cook got both a bargain and a keepsake. She bought a cobalt blue vase from the Glass Mirage for $25. The price tag read $199.
"It will make me think of my grandmother and all the years we came here together," she said. Cook recently took her grandmother to Jonny Reno's for her last Bloody Mary at the Pier.
The concierge desk was the biggest item sold.
"Anybody who has ever been to the Pier has walked right past this," said auctioneer Greg Farner, who did most of the quick talking for his Bay Area Auction Services.
The owners of Bringe Music on First Avenue North bought it for $300.
"We've been in business since 1956. It's time we got a new counter," co-owner Lynn Weigand said.
The 400-pound anchor that served as decor for Bay Breeze clothing shop will soon grace the parking lot of Clearwater Bait & Tackle.
"I saw that and I loved it," owner John Spence said. "Now I have to get it out of here."
All items must be picked up by 4 p.m. Thursday. That's the last time the public is allowed on the property.
Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at (727) 893-8785 or [email protected]