ATLANTIC CITY — Hundreds of people took advantage of the Trump Taj Mahal's bargain prices as part of its liquidation sale on Thursday.
But one person took the term "liquidation" literally.
Thursday night, a video surfaced online of a local man taking a shower in one of the hotel rooms open for the sale.
"I mean, it's a liquidation sale. They're giving us a sample, so I wanted to see how the shower was. I thought maybe I could get a free shower," the man said. "Also because I have cold water at my house right now. So this is a nice way... to get a nice little hot shower."
Gregory Johnson remembers the days when Donald Trump, former owner of the Trump Taj Mahal, would land his helicopter on the roof of the property, forcing the shutdown of half the building’s elevators as he entered.
On Thursday, Johnson, a former supervisor in housekeeping at the property, was one of the last people to take a walk through the place once advertised as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Johnson was joined by others for the first day of a 60-day liquidation sale at the property. People started lining up hours before the 10 a.m. opening, some in search of bargains, while others used the event as an opportunity to pay their respects to a property.
“It’s just my opportunity to give it one last look before it’s changed over,” Johnson said, sitting on the edge of the fountain outside the building. “I haven’t been in here in 15, 20 years, and it’s a way for me to say goodbye to a property that I once worked at. It’s a big icon for Atlantic City.”
The liquidation sale comes as Hard Rock International rebrands the property into the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel Atlantic City, which is expected to open by Memorial Day next year.
When the doors opened, people ran grabbing televisions, furniture and the limited number of poker tables available. While some looked for deals, others checked out the conditions of the rooms on the 46th through 51st floors, which have been vacant since the property closed in October. Some of the rooms had visible mold and peeling wallpaper.
During the sale, which is expected to last until early September, people can buy anything from chandeliers, white elephants and artwork, to towels and light fixtures at bargain prices.
One of the most popular items for early visitors was televisions from the hotel rooms.
“Why would I go to Wal-Mart and spend $400 on a TV when I can get one here for cheap?” said Gerald Winchester, who was the first person in line Thursday morning.
A couple of hours later, Winchester, 75, of Atlantic City, smiled as he left the Taj Mahal with his new 32-inch TV he had purchased for $49.
“It was worth the wait,” he joked.
Don Hayes, president of the National Content Liquidators, the company running the sale, would not discuss how much revenue the company expects to generate from the sale.
“You can buy something for as low as $3 to as large of $35,000 for the large chandeliers,” Hayes said. “We don’t have gaming tables and slot machines — they are being retained. You name it, it goes.”
Not quite. Anything with President Donald J. Trump’s name on it is not for sale. All that was taken off the site after the resort closed in October, Hayes said.
Demolition of the property’s iconic facade is expected to start later this month, with full-scale construction expected to start in August.
Hard Rock International and investors Joe Jingoli and Jack Morris plan to spend $500 million to renovate and rebrand the property. The Hard Rock project is expected to generate more than 1,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs, according to Hard Rock. The group paid $50 million for the property, according to federal records.
Kim Fantazzia, 54, of Margate, was one of the first people in the door and purchased two five-foot ornamental vases for her home.
“These are going to look perfect next to my fireplace,” Fantazzia said as she checked out with her nearly $500 purchase. “I just saw them and knew that I had to have.”
Some used the event to look for home furnishings.
“We just got a new apartment and we have to fill it up,” said Bianca Pizarro, 24, who was there with her boyfriend, Lukas Montanez, 27.
Pizarro and Montanez, both of Atlantic City, used to be card dealers at the Taj. They left the casino after its owners threatened to close in 2015 during an ugly bankruptcy case.
“We really thought it was going to close then,” she said.