Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Auction Marks End of Era

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Auction Marks End of Era

Article excerpt

MONTVALE -- Less than a week after it closed its doors to make way for a shopping center that will be anchored by a Wegmans supermarket, DePiero's Country Farm was once again teeming with activity on Tuesday.

But rather than stopping in to taste the doughnuts that DePiero's once made from scratch on the premises, the customers were eyeing the industrial doughnut maker itself -- along with roughly 200 other items that DePiero's accumulated over almost a century of family farming.

A cider press, a propane-powered forklift, cookie sheets, a red 1953 tractor and an old typewriter were among the items up for bid as part of a public auction that elicited strong emotions from many of the participants.

"I'm definitely not happy to be here," said Eugene Renne, a cook at Harvest Moon Caterers in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., and a longtime customer. "I'm very upset that this is closing down. This is a local staple."

Ron Binaghi Jr., the operator of Stokes Farm in Old Tappan, echoed that sentiment. "I'm not anti-Wegmans," he said. "I'm just anti-farms going out of business."

But Renne, Binaghi and other loyal DePiero's customers were attracted to the auction by the prospect of acquiring high-quality equipment at well below retail prices.

Ellen Cameron, for example, said she was "thrilled" to get a butcher's table for $55, which will help her expand her small Hillsdale-based business, Country Lane Cheezecakes.

Carlos Garcia, a wholesale baker in Hackensack, scooped up dozens of used sheet pans and cake molds. The bargain, he said, would help him maintain an edge in an industry where the margins are "extremely low."

David Caine, the president of Aunt Gussie's, a Garfield-based cookie and cracker company, paid just over $4,500 for a 140-quart dough mixer, which he speculated would cost $35,000 if bought new.

An eclectic bunch of buyers followed a fast-talking auctioneer from Caspert Management Co. as he wheeled his movable podium from the bakery to the farm store to a storeroom. Jamaican and New Zealand accents could be made out as bidders shouted numbers. Others wore clothing that identified them as Orthodox Jews or Muslims.

For a group competing for thousands of dollars worth of equipment, a surprising number wore sweat pants or other casual clothes. …

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