Products Plus, Inc., takes proceeds and buys toys and turkeys for needy

Published in the October 31 – November 13, 2018 issue of Gilroy Life

Image result for "Products Plus" GilroyProducts Plus, Inc., will hold its seventh annual warehouse sale on November 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Though it’s an excellent opportunity to do a little holiday or personal shopping, it’s an even better chance to ensure that needy children and families receive some extra help this holiday season.

Bruce and Eleanor Warneck are the CEO and vice president, respectively, of Products Plus, Inc., which is a wholesale distribution company, located in Gilroy. For 25 years, they’ve specialized in selling excess inventory, closeouts, refurbished stock, and overstock. But they had a problem.

“I looked at my warehouse and saw a quarter or half palette (of certain products) leftover,” Eleanor said. “We had all these ‘onesies, two-sies.’ But we can’t sell small quantities. It was all piling up, and then I got this idea. Once a year, let’s have a warehouse sale, open to the public, get rid of it, and then take the money and donate toys and turkeys.”

The Warnecks were eager to help their community. So, Eleanor decided to save all the samples they received from the many conventions they attend. Then, she “started scavenging whole company,” looking for items to save for the warehouse sale.

To advertise the event, they started with word of mouth, telling employees and friends about it. Soon, there was a Facebook post, and then flyers went out to friends and family who might like to help a good cause. Before long, Eleanor recalled, it was “ginormous.”

Good news travels fast.

The second year, the Warnecks noticed customers were lined up outside the warehouse’s roll-up doors. People showed up early, eager to find the best items. Some merchandise is extremely limited. There might only be one, 10, or 50 units, so people like to get that exclusive deal. Two years ago, a few friends and other companies, from Gilroy, San Jose, and Los Angeles, asked to donate more products to sell.

“It got big,” she admitted. “We have a huge, 6,000-square foot warehouse to hold it all in. And we fill every inch of it with product. It differs every year.” There might be vases, coffee pots, vacuums, Roku, Sling box, juicers, even As Seen on TV items. Plus, whatever items are donated from others. And it’s all sold at deep discounts, below warehouse prices.

In fact, last year it got so big, they decided to do a Friday night event by special invitation only. It was open to employees, family, and friends. They made it a party with pizza, margaritas, and wine. A good time was had by all and those who attended spread the word about what they’d seen, fueling more interest in the regular Saturday sale.

To make room for the event, Garlic City Limousine, a tenant in the Warnecks’ warehouse, donates its warehouse space for a week. Then Eleanor goes through and sets up the space like a store, carefully creating a U-shaped traffic pattern so shoppers can browse and check out efficiently.

“It’s a hell of a lot of work, but it’s a win-win-win,” Eleanor said. When the sale is over, the Products Plus, Inc., employees pick a day, and, after work, they head over to Walmart. They all donate their hours for this event. But they travel in style. Garlic City Limousine provides their party bus.

“We try to make this fun,” Bruce said. And it is, because Products Plus, Inc., makes it a game. Eleanor chimed in, “You wouldn’t believe the competition.”

Once they get to Walmart, they divide the money among their employees, broken down by age group and gender. Everyone gets an allotment of money and a category, one hour to shop, and as many carts as they need. Walmart graciously sections off a register for the event, and the Products Plus, Inc., team keeps it ringing.

“This was Bruce’s idea,” Eleanor explained. “Fill as many carts as you want, and the person closest to their allotment gets a $50 gift card for dinner. They show up with cell phones, calculators, pads of paper. It’s a fierce competition.”

The team shops for toys, clothes, and other items, for babies and children up to the age of 18. Eleanor has her own list, but there’s another crucial holiday item she buys: 100 frozen turkeys, weighing in at 20 pounds apiece.

When the shopping is done, everything comes back to the Products Plus, Inc., warehouse. No vehicle is large enough, however, so Garlic City Limousine loads up the bus. The next morning, everything gets sorted by age group, ready to be distributed. Eleanor goes through her lists, gathers everything she needs to fill each list, and starts calling to arrange for delivery or pick-up. Recipients include Betsy’s Restaurant in Morgan Hill, which holds its own charitable event, the South Santa Clara County Fire Department, St. Mary Parish, St. Joseph Family Center, and migrant farm workers, as well as San Benito County.

This year’s sale will include items such as vacuums, Shiatsu massage pillows, decorative storage boxes, bicycles, juicers, baby items, bathroom scales, jewelry boxes, shower heads, Bluetooth solar speakers, radar detectors, dash cams, housewares, mowers, eyeglass cases, reading glasses, flashlights, purses, and more.

“We’ve been fortunate and blessed,” Bruce said, when asked why the company takes on such an event.

“The warm fuzzies you get from doing this are pretty awesome,” Eleanor added. “It’s amazing to give back to your community. And I push hard to increase our revenue each year, so we can give even more.”

 

Donna Lane

Donna Lane

Donna Lane is a storyteller and San Jose native who earned her journalism degree at San Francisco State University. She lives in Gilroy with her family, who inspire her to celebrate life each day.
Donna Lane