Solomon’s offers portable airport
among old P*I*E freight oddities
By Billee Bussard
November 29, 1991 article that appeared in the Jacksonville Business Journal.

Solomon’s Bargain Center Inc. is having an unusual Christmas selling season thanks to the P*I*E nationwide Inc. bankruptcy.

At a P*I*E bankruptcy sale last June, Solomon bought 43 trailers of freight without knowing the contents. Items in those trailers included a portable airport ensemble, which Solomon’s has priced at $50,000.

Solomon’s was the high bidder for the freight that became entangled in the Oct. 16, 1990, bankruptcy of Jacksonville-based P*I*E and its parent company Olympia Holding Corp. of Miami. The freight had been consolidated in Jacksonville from 350 terminals operated nationwide, according to Douglas Solomon, one of three brothers who operate the business founded by their parents in 1950.

The freight purchase was the largest single purchase of goods in Solomon’s history. The salvage company paid about $12,000 for each 45-foot trailer.

It took Solomon’s about 40 days to transfer and unload thousands of boxes at the P*I*E terminal on Kings Road. They have been unpacking every day since and still have about 25 percent of the shipment unopened, said Ferris Solomon, 43.

Unpacking day is a new adventure, every box is like opening a present on Christmas morning, said Ferris, who manages the largest of the two stores, a 75,000-square foot warehouse style building at 14225 Beach Blvd., near San Pablo Road. The other store, a 20,000-square-foot space at 4324 Atlantic Blvd., next to the Hart Bridge approach, is operated by Raymond Solomon, 47.

The brothers, equal owners in a multimillion dollar business, said the P*I*E shipment is enabling them to offer customers a wide variety of first quality, name brand merchandise, including g an assortment of expensive computers and computer software packages, perfumes, china, giftware, toys and clothing.

Solomon’s is selling a Harvard Graphics software system, which retails for around $300, for $99 while copies last. Included in the P*I*E shipment were china place settings and dinnerware sets from Fitz and Floyd and Lenox which are selling for less than half the retail price.

Much of the freight was destined to re-stock stores after last year’s Christmas season, but got caught in the bankruptcy which froze the freight in the terminals.

The brothers, who in the mid-1970’s bought the salvage business from their parents, George and Sarah Solomon, declined to reveal sales. it’s in the excess of $100 a day, said Douglas Solomon, who does the majority of majority for the buying for the stores.

Other surprises from P*I*E included $600,000 worth of computer equipment used to operate the U.S. Navy’s FA-18 Hornet fighter jet. Legally, the store could have kept the classified Navy computers, but they turned them over to the government, at no charge.

The bad economy does not necessarily send a flood of customers seeking Christmas presents to their bargain stores, Douglas said. Business during the holidays increased somewhat, but stays consistent year-round, he said. This year, customers that do shop at the store may be able to find a little wider assortment of name-brand goods because of the P*I*E purchase, Ferris said.

They Mayo Clinic down the street from Solomon’s store near San Pablo Road has spread word about their salvage operation nationwide, Ferris said. Doctors who practice the clinic have told the brothers that out of town patients try to schedule visits so they have time left to browse in the store, which is open Monday through Saturday until 6 p.m. Beginning after Thanksgiving, the store will be open on Sundays during the Christmas season.


Solomon’s Bargain Center, Inc. Ph # 904-223-0888, Fax # 904-223-9408