Shoppers flock to Raleigh store for ‘thrill’ of buying high-end bargains for $10 or less

A small crowd gathered in Tuesday’s cold to be first through the door at Treasure Hunt Liquidators. On some days, dozens of shoppers wait hours in advance to get the best deals.

A small crowd gathered in Tuesday’s cold to be first through the door at Treasure Hunt Liquidators. On some days, dozens of shoppers wait hours in advance to get the best deals.

Frosty temperatures didn’t dissuade the most devout bargain hunters from staking out their favorite Raleigh haunt on a recent Tuesday morning.

The line outside Treasure Hunt Liquidators stretched 20 deep, a relatively skeletal crowd compared to most days.

“I think the cold scared off some people,” said Dorothy Perry, who visits the Capital Boulevard store every week.

Tuesday is $2 day, where almost every item in the strip mall warehouse sells for a couple of bucks. But Treasure Hunt’s inventory isn’t your typical five-and-dime supply.

Its sprawling bins may feature name-brand drones, vacuums, computer parts, 3D printers or high-end clothing. Every day brings new surprises, even for the store’s management.

“We get stuff from everywhere in big boxes — Amazon, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, JC Penney,” said Mohammed Haidariya, a manager at Treasure Hunt. “It’s any time these places are liquidating products.”

Treasure Hunt can secure products at cavernous discounts because shipments arrive with some uncertainty. The store never knows what’s coming.

“I came for the first time with my sister and got hooked on it,” Perry said. “It’s always something different. I come for the thrill of it.”

New shipments are displayed each Friday across several waist-high receptacles. In the frenzy for Friday’s best items, the organized bins are quickly jumbled. No matter what shoppers may find, they only pay $10.

Prices decrease throughout the week. By Wednesday, any remaining products cost just $1. The store is closed on Thursdays while staff unpack a new week’s arrivals.

“You have to really look, but you can find amazing deals,” said Perry, who bought most of her Christmas gifts from Treasure Hunt. “You just have to be patient and look carefully.”

Huge bins arrive at Treasure Hunt Liquidators with items from Amazon, Target, Home Depot and other retailers. Items never cost more than $10. Lars Dolder

‘It’s hard to beat’

Treasure Hunt Liquidators, at 4522 Capital Blvd., celebrated its first anniversary last week after opening amid one of the pandemic’s hardest months. The store’s owner, George Milano, thought people needed easier access to affordable products.

“It’s a passion and hobby of mine to find deals,” he said. “A&E’s ‘Storage Wars’ is one of my favorite shows and I started doing research into liquidation because I never knew how that worked. Where did goods actually end up?

“I found out you can buy these things by the truckload and the quality of the goods was phenomenal. I couldn’t believe it.”

After reselling some products online, Milano and his cousin, Izzy, decided to partner on a brick-and-mortar shop.

“It started as an idea, and turned it making a lot of contacts and then opening a store,” Milano said. “I didn’t know how the numbers would break down, but it was just a hobby and it turned out other people were excited about it, too.”

Many of Treasure Hunt’s regulars are resellers who flip items for profit.

“There are lot of people becoming entrepreneurs because of us,” Milano said. “They’ve been laid off because of the pandemic and they’re trying to make ends meet. We take a lot of honor in that, a lot of pride in that, to be supporting families.”

Other shoppers, such as Kerrie Johnson, come for affordable gifts and donations. She buys helmets for a charity that gives bicycles to children.

Whatever shoppers are looking for, Johnson said, it’s hard to find better prices than what Treasure Hunt offers.

“I think people come for a lot of reasons,” she said. “I think a lot of people are also just looking for themselves just trying to get things at reasonable prices. But whatever someone’s looking for, it’s hard to beat what you can get here.”

Dozens search through bins of discounted items at Treasure Hunt Liquidators in Raleigh. Products vary, but can include airpods, high-end clothing, vacuums, computer parts and more. Lars Dolder

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Lars Dolder is a business reporter at The News & Observer with a focus on retail.


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