‘MBTAGifts’ holds huge warehouse sale in Somerville
Authentic transit memorabilia was marked down by as much as 75 percent Saturday during the first and possibly last MBTAGifts warehouse sale.
The clearance event was meant to make room for more of the large MBTA collectables, which are stored in a Somerville warehouse.
Hundreds of customers made off with low-priced signs, doors and other authentic T equipment during the 6-hour sale. Items ranged from $5 to over $100 after the discount.
“Social media brought a huge wave of interested people in,” said Steven Beaucher, co-owner of MBTAGifts, a retail gift shop which opened in 2011 to the T generate additional revenue.
“We had our usual hardcore collectors, but some people were just new to Boston or like the T and wanted something for their apartment,” said Beaucher.
The Cambridge shop sells retail items, like toys and clothing, however collectors can also order the authentic items online.
The gift shop gives half of the profits from the sales of the authentic items to the MBTA, Beaucher said. The items would otherwise be sold for scrap.
The most popular of the authentic memorabilia – MBTA station signs.
“The smaller signs, like the sheet medal signs , those are the rarest,” said Beaucher. “Everyone wants a sign from their neighborhood station. We all have a sense of collective ownership in the urban environment. If you take a bus everyday, you start to think of that as ‘your’ bus. People identify with their T stations because they interact with it everyday. Also, to have a physical piece of infrastructure, it’s rare. There is a novelty to that.”
The warehouse is not typically open to the public, and at this point, Beacher does not plan to hold another warehouse sale.
“I don’t know. We need to crunch all of our numbers,” he said. “I assume in the future there might be one, but we are not going to do it regularly.”