Every two years, Duke’s athletics department needs to make way for new gear. That means every two years, Blue Devils fans get to pick up something special.
Friday’s Duke Athletics Surplus Sale at Card Gym offered an array of items from the school’s 27 teams at deep discounts. Ten dollars got you a T-shirt. For $30, you left with an authentic pair of basketball practice shorts. Shoes: $45.
“Sometimes you just have overflow,” said Gerald Harrison, senior associate director of athletics for internal affairs. “We could box it all up and store it under Card Gym or we could give our fans a chance to get stuff at a really good price.”
Harrison and Darby Nevola, assistant director of administrative operations, bounced from table to table, ensuring the event, which had drawn about 1,250 shoppers by lunchtime and was staffed by around 20 volunteers – ran smoothly. Harrison said he expected most of the roughly 15,000 items to be gone by early Friday afternoon.
“Usually everything goes,” Harrison said.
Despite a thunderstorm that blew through around dawn, the line was more than 100 deep before the doors opened at 7 a.m. At the front of it was Patrick Killela, a project leader at Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He knew what he was after – mainly the coats, sweaters and basketball gear – but he wasn’t just shopping for himself.
“A couple of folks I know, big Duke fans, asked me to pick up some stuff for them,” Killela said.
Around half an hour after the doors opened, Killela had already picked up plenty. Off to the side of the steamy gym – which has no air-conditioning - he and Michael Peace, a friend and fellow Duke grad, were checking out their haul.
“We’re shopping for coats in May,” Killela said with a laugh as he zipped up the winter coat he scored for $35.
Kevin Hill and his 13-year old son Johnathan took a detour on their way to school, stopping by early enough to be one of the first ones in. While basketball gear is traditionally the most popular item at the sale, the Hills were part of a growing number of shoppers looking for football items.
“As many as possible,” Johnathan said when asked how many games the two attend.
So it made sense that, at Friday’s sale, the pair nabbed a football and a sleek, black helmet.
“We made a B-line for it,” Kevin said. “They went pretty quick.”
Christmas is several months away, but Kent Dixon already has some gifts. The respiratory care practitioner at Duke University Hospital got a few footballs and a jersey.
His friend Dickson Clifford, a senior manager with the Office of Information Technology, found a pair of polo shirts.
“I’ve been at Duke nine years but I’ve never set foot in here, never had a chance,” Clifford said. “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do.”
“We got here about 6:30 and there were still about 50 or 75 people in front of us,” Dixon said. “Next time we’ll come earlier.”
Initially the plan was to only have 20 football helmets for sale. As the highest-priced item – they were $100 - they’ve tended to move slowly. But after all 20 sold out in a flash, the decision was made to dig out some older unassembled helmets.
As Jay Bissette and Tommy Phillips helped customers, fellow equipment operations staffers Wes Pickell and Chris Woolsey feverishly screwed facemasks and slapped decals on the helmets.
“Supply and demand,” Pickell said as he applied a white stripe to a shiny blue helmet.