Early-birds win at senior center sale

LIHU’E — “I saw the line and I said, ‘There’s nothing left for us,’ ” Clyde Kodani said.

But he made his way into the Lihu’e Neighborhood Center anyway, where his wife joined the throngs of people who were in search of some of the treasures created by the Lihu’e Senior Center members at their annual bake and craft sale Saturday.

“We came at 8:30,” said one lady wielding an empty tray in line, while waiting for the doors to open at 9 a.m.

She was not the first in line, but had the luxury of being in the shade while the line snaked out along the neighborhood center parking lot in the quickly warming morning sun.

“Today is Social Security, so I tol’ her jus’ go buy. I’m just the box boy,” Avelardo “Chick” Cacabelos said from the safety of a corner of the center.

His wife was quickly back among a crowd of people who sought out bargains in the baked-goods section after placing several items in his tray.

“The prices are real reasonable,” one volunteer noted. “There’s a five-gallon jar of pickles for just $5. In the store, a small bottle costs about $12.”

Baked goods and other food-stuffs were the first things to go as shoppers snatched and grabbed while being moved along a table filled with the efforts of the seniors.

Lines to cashiers formed only minutes after the doors opened, and Kodani chuckled, “There was a line to get in, and now there’s a line to get out.”

The food tables were emptied within 15 minutes of the doors opening, and by the time Kaua’i Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste arrived, there were just a handful of items to select from, one shopper joking, “I hope they don’t charge him for his lei. He could’ve bought it here.”

The Lihu’e Neighborhood Center marketplace was divided into distinct areas: the food, fabric and other handicrafts, plus a rummage area. Each area was filled with bargain-hunters who swarmed in once the doors opened.

As the food tables emptied, they were quickly replaced by other ethnic foods prepared by some of the Filipino members of the center, and those, too, disappeared quickly.

One late arrival scanned the emptied tables and the lines of people waiting to check out, threw up her arms and said, “I was too late. Where can I go now?”

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