British Columbia·Photos

Need 100 ice buckets? Vancouver hotel sells off items before demolition

Hotel room essentials, a baby grand piano and even a complete bar set-up are all on sale at the Empire Landmark hotel in Vancouver. The now-shuttered hotel is liquidating thousands of items as the property prepares for redevelopment.

'You're coming in here and you're sort of getting a piece of history,' says shopper

Everything on sale: Inside the Vancouver Empire Landmark liquidation

5 years ago
Duration 1:36
The iconic Vancouver hotel is selling off thousands of items before it is demolished

If you're looking to score a great deal on clock radios from the '90s, or if your linen closet is short between one to 50,000 pieces, there's a sale out there for you.

The Empire Landmark hotel in Vancouver's West End has closed its doors for good but a liquidator is selling off thousands of hotel items to the public as the building is readied for demolition.

Scattered throughout the hotel's lobby, ballrooms and conference centres are typical hotel fixtures: beds, towels, chairs, TVs, mini-fridges and enough ice buckets to chill several hundred bottles of champagne.

If you can take it home, this half-moon bar, approximately five metres in diameter, could be yours. (Liam Britten/CBC)

There are also the so-called back-of-house items: vacuum cleaners, luggage carts, cash registers, cooking equipment and even dozens of pairs of checkered chef's pants, piled high on a buffet table.

And if the hotel's bar held a special place in your heart, you can take the whole thing home with you — sinks and coolers included — for a cool $5,000.

Vintage style

While hotel room art is sometimes criticized for being nondescript or bland, that's exactly what Vancouver resident Annie Xu was in the market for.

Xu and her boyfriend were among a smattering of passersby who decided to pay the $5 entry fee and have a look when the sale opened Thursday.

"They're actually pretty interesting," she said of the works, mostly framed landscape prints with blue tones.

"It's definitely in that [vintage] style where it doesn't really match where I'm living in, but ... I'm contemplating getting one."

Xu has never stayed at the hotel, but has eaten at the revolving rooftop restaurant, Cloud 9, where she has fond memories.

"You're coming in here and you're sort of getting a piece of history."

Menus from Cloud 9, the revolving restaurant at the top of the Empire Landmark hotel, are on sale. (Liam Britten/CBC)

'Down to the paperclips'

Leading the sale of the many items is Frank Long, president of International Content Liquidations, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based company that has organized such sales for four generations, he said.

Speaking with a slight southern U.S. accent and seated in a temporary office set up just off the hotel's lobby, Long said this sale is the second phase of the asset sell-off after about 22 percent of the goods were sold in bulk to other hotel operators.

A man walks through a room filled with liquidated linens. (Liam Britten/CBC)

That percentage is a little lower than usual because of the age of many of the items offered, he said.

"[But] we have a great retail audience that this works great for. ... It's above average," he said. "This place is stuffed full. Burp. It's got everything here down to the paperclips."

So far, the most unique item he has found to sell at the hotel was a baby grand piano, disassembled and in storage for decades.

Frank Long, president of International Content Liquidations, shows off some of the furniture on offer in the hotel's ballroom. (Liam Britten/CBC)

Sales more common

Long said these "asset recovery" sales are becoming more common across North America as many hotels are redeveloped.

The proceeds can help a developer secure funding to redevelop without relying on bank loans, he added.

Long said the 2008 recession had an impact: banks took possession of many hotels and are now selling them or redeveloping them to take advantage of higher real estate prices.

"The developers with the wherewithal can get in and buy [a hotel] for 20 per cent of what they were valued at in 2006," he said.

"When they're going fast and furious, we ride. We go right along with 'em. … After the paperwork, we're the first thing that has to happen."

The Empire Landmark sale will last until Nov. 19.

A wall in a conference room was stacked with mini-fridges. (Liam Britten/CBC)