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.


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