NEWELL — The Homer Laughlin China Co.’s retail outlet tent sale began at 10 a.m. Thursday morning, but customers have been waiting in line since Wednesday.
According to retail outlet Manager Pat Shreve, some customers were camped in Clarke Field Wednesday night to ensure an early place in line.
“They’re (the customers) are just a super bunch of people and we love talking to them,” Shreve said.
Shreve stated that the semi-annual sale, which the company has done for approximately 12 years, is about more than chaotic shopping. The sale brings people together and gives a boost to the local economy.
Shreve stated that guests at the tent sale stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants, and buy gasoline from local stations, infusing the community with a bit of extra money.
“We’re happy to share (the economy boost from the sale) with the whole community,” Shreve said.
Marketing Coordinator Dan Williams stated that he enjoys going through the line and talking to customers.
“One of our regular customers at the sale is a school teacher from Arizona,” Williams said. “As soon as school is out, she drives across the country. We look for her every time we have a sale.”
In addition to the influx of customers from across the nation, Shreve stated that the Homer Laughlin China Co. employs approximately 40 extra employees just for the sale.
East Palestine elementary school teacher Debbie Repasky stated that she and her group of fellow instructors entered the line at 10:15 a.m. The group was waiting at the front of the line at 2 p.m.
Repasky, who was visiting for the second year, stated that her goal was to shop for gifts and to add to her personal collection of FiestaWare.
“I like the reds, the oranges, and the greens,” Repasky said of her favorites.
Fellow elementary school teacher Missy Gatchel stated that the staff of the school has begun a tradition of coming to the tent sale together.
“Last year they (the staff) started it, as one of three summer field trips,” Gatchel said.
Shreve stated that she expected over 1,000 customers to come through the tents on Thursday, the first day of the sale.
The items she expected would sell immediately, Shreve said, were the ivory-colored second-quality dishes, which are available for the first time at the sale.
“This sale has by far the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” Shreve said. “It’s all for the love of Fiesta.”
A different group each day provides hot food and cold drinks for the customers. On Thursday, that group was East Liverpool church United Brethren in Christ.
Youth Leader Dameon Welsh stated that the church has been one of the groups providing refreshment at the tent sale for approximately five years.
Welsh stated that the funds from this year’s sale will go toward the completion of a new church building.
“We’ll be using the funds to finish projects that we’re doing there, like the sanctuary,” Welsh said.
With the tickets they receive to enter the sale, customers are entered into an hourly giveaway drawing for sets of dishes, gift certificates, and other goods.
Customers who bring a non-perishable food item to donate to a local food bank are entered into a special drawing for limited-edition marigold-colored baking bowls and platter. The color will be retired on Sept. 1.
The sale continues today from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. and again on Saturday. The retail outlet will be closed on Sunday.
East Palestine elementary school teachers and tent sale customers Shelly Zeh (left), Judy Frederick, Missy Gatchel, Lisa Pence, and Debbie Repasky stand at the front of the line while waiting for permission to enter the tents. (Photo by Jen Matsick)