LAS VEGAS — Hundreds of visitors lined up outside the once-iconic Sahara hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip on Thursday as it reopened for a liquidation sale to get rid of everything inside.
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From $10 waste baskets, $3 decks of playing cards and $150 camel lamps, bargain-hunters searched every nook for tagged trinkets and furnishings that let them take home a piece of the iconic joint.
"We don't go to the openings — we go to the closings," said 52-year-old Marc Simon of Las Vegas, who shopped with his wife to furnish a bedroom in his house.
"Each one of my rooms in my house is a suite of a different hotel," Simon said. "Every time one of these goes down, we add on to the house."
He had spent about $400 by midday on two camel lamps, a slot machine chair and smaller items including bar mats and shot glasses.
The Sahara closed last month after 59 years, as owner SBE Entertainment decided it couldn't keep the casino open given the tourism economy in Las Vegas.
Items for sale ranged from $25 toilets to large prints of famous faces in the House of Lords restaurant, including photos of the Beatles, the Rat Pack, and a $550 print of actors Cary Grant and Ray Bolger. Booth and table sets from the restaurant cost $1,225.
The casino's poker room sign sold for $175, while a timeline look at the Sahara's history was tagged for sale at $450.
The historic resort, which opened in 1952, is remembered for attracting big celebrities to its lounges in its heyday. Don Rickles and Louis Prima were regulars, while Sonny and Cher and Judy Garland also took the stage in the casino's showroom.
In recent years, the Sahara became known for cheap blackjack and a NASCAR-themed area that included a cafe and small roller coaster.
SBE hasn't specified future plans for the property, but shoppers on Thursday worried this might be the last they would see of the Sahara and its history.
"I hate to see this go," said 59-year-old Daniel Kohls of Las Vegas. "If they're getting rid of all this, I fear that they're going to level this place."
Kohls, in line to buy three camel lamps, said he planned to spend more time walking the casino floor to pick things to buy.
"I was thinking about the chandeliers, too, but I don't know if they'll fit in my house," he said.
The sale is scheduled to continue until nothing remains, with liquidation firm National Content Liquidators charging $10 a head for entrance during the sale's first four days.
"When we're done, everything will be gone," said Don Hayes, the firm's president.
The property on the north end of the Strip is in the same neighborhood as older casinos like Circus Circus and the Riviera, as well as high-profile multibillion-dollar projects that have been stalled indefinitely, including the Fontainebleau and Echelon.
Steve Stevens, 90, who was shopping with friend Cathy Wyand to help furnish her new farmhouse in Castle Rock, Wash., said it seemed clear in recent years that the Sahara would eventually close.
"Everything changes in this town — fast," he said.
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