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Originally published September 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 29, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Boeing to close surplus store

Boeing's surplus store in Kent, a mainstay for people in need of a cheap computer or a hard-to-find power tool, will close by the end of...

Seattle Times business reporter

Boeing's surplus store in Kent, a mainstay for people in need of a cheap computer or a hard-to-find power tool, will close by the end of this year.

Boeing instead plans to sell its surplus items in bulk to wholesale buyers over the Internet and through a more traditional contracting process with business partners, said spokesman Dean Tougas. Boeing will develop a Web site over the next few months to support its online plans, he said.

The store's final day will be Dec. 21.

For 35 years it has sold just about anything that Boeing no longer uses, except aircraft parts. Boeing employees and retirees enjoy discounts of up to 20 percent.

Boeing already is selling more surplus items online, Tougas said.

At the same time, Boeing has fewer surplus items to sell, due to lean-manufacturing methods adopted in the mid-1990s and the outsourcing of some production, said David Levenson, manager of Boeing's surplus sales.

The store's sales are down about 50 percent since the start of the decade to between $2 million and $3 million a year, Levenson said. Added Tougas: "As great as the store once was, I think its time has passed."

But Bruce Lane, a former Boeing employee and Kent resident, is so disappointed with the company's decision to close the store that he created a Web site, www.saveboeingsurplus.com.

"They've always had things you'd never be able to find at your local hardware or computer store," said Lane, who restores and maintains old electronic test equipment. "And they usually sell it for a fairly reasonable price."

Tougas said he doubts the decision will be reversed. "We didn't reach this decision overnight. It's been carefully considered, and we recognize that not everyone is happy with it," he said.

Boeing expects to cut down on the costs of managing its surplus items when it no longer has to transport them to the store, Tougas said. Instead, they'll remain at facilities until a buyer has been found.

Levenson said that the store's 14 employees will be placed in jobs elsewhere at Boeing.

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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