Inside the Grizzly Tent Sale
And they are off. The guy in green with the two kids were the first through the gate. I was hoping to find out what they waited eight hours for but couldn’t find them during the sale.
I have never seen the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, but I imagine it looked a bit like the Grizzly Industrial tent sale I attended on Sept. 23 in Muncy, Pa. At exactly 8 a.m., company officials pushed open a chain link fence to admit hundreds of people rushing in for a chance to buy a cabinet saw for $400 or a 12″ jointer for $800.
Once or twice a year, the officials at Grizzly Industrial hold a tent sale at each of their three showroom locations in Pennsylvania, Missouri and Washington. The tent sale is an opportunity to buy machines, tools and acessories that have been returned, damaged or were showroom samples. The discounts vary, but if you are fleet of foot and quick to jump you can save hundreds of dollars on a woodworking machine.
The machinery tents were the hottest ones with people flying around trying to read tags. The tents filled with accessories were filled with the patient sifters, who were looking closely for buried treasure.
The press were allowed inside the tents before the sale began (though we couldn’t buy anything) to look around and watch the crowd swell behind the gate. Each of the big machines (there were several hundred) are tagged with a white label and a duplicate label on top. The label explains what (if anything) is wrong with the machine or missing and the price. If you rip off the white tag, you’ve bought it.
Those are the rules. Here is how it played out last Saturday.
The people at the front of the line had been there more than eight hours. The parking lot was filled with trucks (and trailers) with license plates from as far away as Virginia. When the gate swun open, a Grizzly official cautioned, “You might want to stand behind this rope.”
Good idea. The people came rushing past and dashed to the tent holding the machinery. No scuffles were observed. After the initial swell subsided I had a chance to evaluate the bargains inside the tents. I’ve heard before that there are some good deals, but that some of the machines need a lot of work.
Personally, I was impressed by the bargains. Grizzly already has really low prices, so the best deals seemed to be on the floor model machines. I saw 15″ planers that were perfect in every way and were marked $200 off the regular price. Not bad for a short sprint.
Damaged goods were a real mixed bag. Sometimes the damage was no big deal. A pully would be cracked, or there was cosmetic damage. Sometimes the repair or replacement would be serious. I saw columns on planers that had been cracked. And jointers that were missing fences. Of course, sometimes a missing part can be a good thing. A 12″ table saw that was missing a fence and a few other small items was $600. Someone who wants to buy a 12″ table saw probably already has a rip fence lying around and would prefer a table saw without a fence.
And what was I doing there? Our advertising director, Don Schroder, and I were there with other magazine types to hand out free magazines and chat with the attendees. We managed to give away all our free magazines, but I think the customers were more impressed by the low prices on tools.
– Christopher Schwarz