Friday, January 30, 2015

Coffee vs. Cocktail Tables: What's the Difference?

Coffee tables and cocktail tables are pretty darn similar, so much so that it's hard to tell the difference. Many people use them interchangeably, and that's okay. If you come into City Liquidators and ask for a cocktail table and are looking at a coffee table, it won't matter. We'll get you what you need. Both tables serve essentially the same purpose anyway; to hold up your book, drink, or remote control. And who knows? You could always throw a coffee cocktail party and nobody will be the wiser!

But if this is one of those small things that bothers you not to know or if you're into trivia, you're in the right place. The differences are very little; their history and their height.
According to, "before the 19th century, low-lying tables were referred to as cocktail tables..." and "...were used for placing drinks and books." They especially became popular during the Roaring 20's when many people were having cocktail parties.


Some sources say that cocktail tables have no age, that the year of their creation is a mystery, while others say the 1800s or around that time. Few people can agree on when coffee tables were created too, but there is one thing that's true about them, they get their name from holding up "coffee-table books."

Nancy Baldwin of tells it like this, "while coffee tables are usually 16-18" in height, cocktail tables have a history of being slightly taller at 20-22"." Coffee tables also need to be sturdy, sturdy enough to hold a large coffee-table book, while a cocktail table is usually daintier.

(Our very own Mission Coffee Table from our website,, for only $399)

(Our Classic Proportions Cocktail Table for sale for only $349 at

There are also apparently a set of unspoken rules that come with them, according to Jennifer Taylor Design. The rules are as follows:
  • Allow about 18" between the sofa and the table.
  • The height of your table should be within 4" of the height of your sofa.
  • The length of your table should be about 3/4 the length of your sofa.

There were also some sources that commented on shape, but in the end, they said completely opposite things; that one was square and/or rectangular while the other was more circular and/or oval. But so many sites clashed on this issue that we decided to skip it. If you find anything new out though, we'd love to hear it!

But at the end of the day, coffee or cocktail, both serve essentially the same services. Just choose the one that looks and feels the best in the space it is going in and you'll be just fine.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

5 Great Mason Jar Ideas

Mason jars are useful, fun, and great for all sorts of things. In our General Merchandise Department here at City Liquidators, we are selling boxes of 12 for $15.90 per box!

What can you do with a mason jar? Below are just 10 ideas, but the variety of uses is never-ending.

1) A simple way to save the environment and your leftovers is preserving your fruits and vegetables. has simple, easy-to-follow directions for what to do here:  
              (Photo courtesy of            

2) Try making some delicious jams and jellies. has some great tips and recipes;

3) Hungry, but don't want to go through a huge ordeal? Try this fun pizza in a jar recipe by 1 Fine Cookie.

4)For a simple and fun DIY project, turn your mason jars into candle holders.

5)If you need to decorate for an event, but don't have a lot of money, simply pick up some of our mason jars, buy or pick some flowers, and use the jars as vases.

Don't forget, we're open 9am-6pm every day, so feel free to swing by and say hello! If you have any other ideas and/or want to tell us about your experience with the ideas above, we welcome comments and would love to hear about it!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rolltop Antique Desks: What They Are, What We Have, and How to Care for Yours

What They Are

uk  /ˌrəʊl.tɒpˈdesk/  
us    /ˌroʊl.tɑːp-/ ("English Definition of 'Rolltop Desk'")
"a writing desk with a sliding cover often of parallel slats fastened to a flexible backing" ("Definition of "ROLLTOP DESK").

A Short History
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the roll-top desk was a popular choice for small to medium-sized offices. It was mass-produced back then since the rolling wooden slats could be cranked out quickly and easily. "A place for everything, and everything in its place" was the slogan going around in the 19th century that caught everybody's attention. People were awestruck by the "idea of a double-pedestal desk, each pedestal with a bank of drawers, topped with a superstructure of drawers, pencil slides and pigeon holes for all manner of paraphernalia, plus the ability to work at one's desk then hide away the mess with the pull-down of the tambour" (Auton).

The French first introduced the roll-top desk to Britain in the early 1800s. It came as a result of Louis XV asking his cabinet maker, Jean-François Oeben, "to create a desk for him for his new palace in Versailles. Oeben set about a design that would take him the last three years of his life--and was finally finished by his successor Jean-Henri Reisener some six years later" (Auton). In total, the desk was built from 1760 to 1769 ("Antique Office Desks").

Louis XV was not only concerned about looks, but also about security. According to Auton, both Oeben and Reisener spent a large amount of time making sure the rolling top and mechanical locking devices were no less than thief-proof.

By the late 19th century, many European furniture-builders had immigrated to America and brought their interest of roll-top desks with them. While money was flowing in the US and investors were looking to these desks, designers had to figure out a cheap way of making them. In England, the desks were so expensive that only the rich could afford them because they were handmade. But once designers figured out how to mass-produce them, roll-top desks were being churned out left and right. This went on until much later, probably until the 1960s, when more convenient and less expensive desks took over. The earliest known use of the word, "roll-top desk", is in 1880 and comes from the following bill. This same bill also contains the oldest known illustration of it.

(Photos courtesy of Circles placed by us.)

Difference Between a Cylinder Desk, a Tambour Desk, and
a Roll-top Desk
  • Cylinder desks have an inflexible cover that is pulled down on a track shaped into a circular arc. These were difficult to use at times because one thin piece of wood had to fit perfectly in the grooves on the track. Once it was worn or had been through humidity enough, the wood would bend, warp and stick.

  • Tambour desks have desktop drawers, cubbies, and pigeonholes that are covered by small wooden shutters that open and shut on the left and right. Tambour is the definition of wooden slats placed on flexible material, hence the name.

  • Roll-top desks (also known as curtain desks) are essentially a marriage of the two. The wooden shutters go top to bottom like a cylindrical desk and the cylindrical desk's curved wooden cover is made into a wooden shutter instead. The one thing it has from both of them though are the pockets and pigeonholes.

What We Have

 (Antique Roll-Top Desk for sale for only $399.99)

(Antique Roll-Top Desk for sale for only $499.99)

 (Antique Roll-Top Desk for sale for only $349.99)

 Caring for Your Roll-Top Desk
It is simple to care for your newest addition. Just follow these simple guidelines:
  • When cleaning your desk, stay away from harsh chemical cleaning solutions and waxes, especially if it's an antique.
  • Dust it weekly with a flannel cloth, feather duster, or Swiffer duster to keep dirt from building up.
  • When cleaning, give extra love to the horizontal spaces between the slats on the tambour (the rolling piece of the desk) and to the grooves of where it comes out. If you don't do this, you could get build-up in the grooves, which will make opening and closing the tambour difficult.
  • If the tambour is sticking to the grooves, try rubbing a wax candle along them. 
  • Occasionally polish your desk to give it a nice shine. (Harbour)
If you're interested in any of our pristine antique roll-top desks, go ahead and give our Used Furniture Department a call at 503.232.7412 and/or come on by! These desks are just a tip of the iceberg of what we have at City Liquidators. Have a great day all! 

Works Cited

Friday, January 23, 2015

Faces & Places: Can You Hear Me Now?

Hey all! We decided to do something special for you today and show you one of our esteemed pieces of history about the store.

Not too long ago, oh say back in the late '70s, there was an interview with our very own "No Fault" Walt and that zany show, Faces & Places.

But there's one thing about the '70s that can make things difficult to make out what's happening in this interview... the sound quality. So we decided to notate this interview just for you! See below and enjoy!

1978 Faces and Places Interview
Speaker:  If you’re from out of town, the words, “City Liquidators” might conjure visions of strange soccer men annihilating entire towns with outer space weaponry. But in Portland, “City Liquidators” signifies something altogether different, but not necessarily less bizarre.
Stuart Rosenthal: The atmosphere in the City Liquidators store at 3rd and Southeast Belmont is about what you’d expect if the Howard Hughes estate held a garage sale. 

Rosenthal: Have you ever wanted to buy something like, oh, say some neon illuminated letters from a S.H. Kress sign, but didn’t know where to find them?
Rosenthal: Or if the traffic lights always seem to be going against you, maybe you’d like to buy your own.

Rosenthal: I used to have a ninth-grade teacher who liked to hide in the closet and listen to what the class was saying about her. I bet she’d like one of these.

Rosenthal: So how about a chair for a cut-rate barber or a painless dentist who is just going into practice? For any of these items, your best bet is probably City Liquidators.
Rosenthal: City Liquidators will buy and sell just about anything that comes their way. They pick up most of this stuff in ridiculous quantities and desperation prices from bankrupt businesses, state and federal surplus, factory overstocks, and individuals who just want to get rid of something. Then they mark it up and sell it to other businesses and the public at rates well below wholesale. The idea is to turn over as much merchandise as possible in the lowest imaginable time.
Walt Pelett: See if you have a lot of traffic in your store and a very cheap price, people look at that and say, “my god, I’ve gotta have them.” They’ll buy anything if the price is right. 

Rosenthal: Jimmy Walt Pelett is the dynamo that keeps the wheels spinning at City Liquidators. He combines a Type 2’s lust for willing and doing with the smooth pattern and enthusiasm of a TV game show host, and he loves to boast about his most outrageous merchandising too.

Pelett: Our most amazing item is 46,000 wigs and 5,700 toupees. 
Pelett: So I think that is amazing.

Rosenthal: The way Walt talks about it, you’d think the liquidation business is a breeze, the kind of enterprise that might almost run itself. 
 Rosenthal: Walt’s not above a bit of promotion. 
 Pelett: And this is our Louie Liquidators color book that just came out of the presses Friday. Of course it has a picture of Louie Liquidator on all 16 pages, and we give this away free to little kids, and I want to give you your memorial copy right now. It has “happiness is a fast buck, and we’re one of the few who admit it.” 
 Rosenthal: Running City Liquidators also requires a dedicated sales staff. Working the phones and stopping the customers in the aisles, Walt is unstinting when it comes to praising his salesmen and women. 
 Pelett: Well we have two classes of salesmen, and one of them is our retired millionaire’s club. These are guys that are about 60 years old, younger or older, but in that area, and they’ve been, some of them are in business, one of them owns a couple A&W Root Beer stores, and most work for the fun of it. 
 Pelett: Then we have our wonder women. We used to have a department store, no, not a department store, a clothing store downtown and my daughters all ran that thing at one time or another.
Pelett: But one day I said, “but why are they wasting their time down there on 4th Ave., when they can come down here and instead of, you know, the total store selling $500 a day, these girls can sell $2,000 or $3,000 each.
Rosenthal: Walt’s absolutely right. It takes a special breed of salesman to move hundreds of thousands of binders.
Pelett: This is probably the largest, the biggest item that we’ve ever bought. A large national company had 865,000 assorted three-ring binders for sale.
Rosenthal: 865,000?
Pelett: They were in 6 national warehouses across the country.
Rosenthal: How could you ever hope to get rid of that number, I mean, if this company couldn’t get rid of them, how could you do it?

Pelett: Well, we have salesmen.
Rosenthal: Unlike other captains of industry, who supervise their empires from wood-paneled offices, Walt Pelett never hesitates to put himself into the day-to-day fray on the sales floor. Then watching Walt in the back may be the most fun you can have at City Liquidators.
Pelett: Now, listen, how many [wig hats] do you want to have?

Woman: How many? I don’t know.

Pelett: Well one is definitely not enough. How many kids you got going?

Woman: 2 daughters.

Pelett: You got 2 daughters?

Woman: Mm-hmm.

Pelett: Mm-hmm? Ok, well I’d get them at least 3 each 'cause they’re gonna fight over the colors.

Woman laughs.

Woman: An orange one?
Pelett: Yeah, especially that one, no, oh get that one there. Mm-hmm. See, 'cause when you come in after skiing,

Pelett places the hat on her head, then removes it.

Pelett: See that? Your hair won’t be a mess anymore, it’ll be lovely.

Woman: Bought. One dollar.
Pelett: Right here, we have a live one! Write him up! Uh-uh, you don’t want to put it down there [the inside of the desk], do ya? 

Man: Sure, I don’t care.

Pelett: Alright, that’s 19 bucks, okay? Appreciate it. See? That’s a first-time customer.

Man: So how do I pay for this? Do I pay for it with Mastercard?

Pelett: You can pay in cash, check, or hostages. But if you have cash, you need a very good ID.


Remember, we're open 9am-6pm every day! So come see us today!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mini Barbecue, Loads of Fun!

Winter is a cold and wonderful time of year. Hot cocoas, eggnog, and warm soups. Life is good. But many times we circle around to the same warm foods and drinks. Why not shake things up a notch? Barbecuing is normally a summer thing, but why not make it a winter thing too? Well we have the perfect thing for you! Worried about the space a barbecue may take up? Then this is doubly perfect, and at a great price too!

This is the Better Chef BB17 17" Barbecue Grill for sale at our store, City Liquidators, for only $24.99! The barbecue's diameter is 17 inches, the grill's diameter is 16 inches, and the barbecue's height is 23 inches. It's easy to store and easy to use, and the price is great too!

Not only is this a great deal, but we have a wonderful recipe for it (and it's healthy too)!

Zucchini Boats on the Grill Recipe
Courtesy of

Original Recipe Makes 4 Servings 
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 25 min.
Ready in: 45 min. 

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 slice of white bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup bacon bits
  • 1 tablespoon minced black olives
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 3 tablespoons diced green chili peppers
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 6 tablespoons shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pinch dried basil
  • Seasoned salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  1. Prepare the grill for indirect heat.
  2. Place the zucchini in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook 5 minutes. Drain, cool, and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp to about 1/4 inch from the skin. Chop pulp.
  3. In a bowl, mix the zucchini pulp, bread pieces, bacon bits, olives, jalapeno, green chile peppers, onion, tomato, and Cheddar cheese. Season with basil, seasoned salt, and pepper.
  4. Stuff the zucchini halves with the pulp mixture.
  5. Place foil packets on the prepared grill over indirect heat. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, until tender.

So there you have it! Enjoy and let us know how it goes!   

Monday, January 19, 2015

City Liquidators: A Glimpse to the Past

City Liquidators has been around for quite a while. It was started in 1977. That's a lot of memories. We would like to share some of them with you now with the photos below. Enjoy!

(Young Walt Pelett)

(Old Oregonian Article with Walt and City Liquidators)

(City Liqs Back in the Day)

 (Great Customer Service is Classic)

(From left to right, Emma and Ellie Pelett rock their shades)

(Walt and Pam in front of Liquidators)

 (Walt and son, Zach, talking business)

Have a great week! Night all!