Crowds turn out for the Nittany Lion Inn furniture sale, picking up bargains and a piece of history
Looking for a desk? Medicine balls? Perhaps a framed picture is more your style.
Whether the motive is nostalgia, curiosity or bargain-hunting, this week’s furniture sale at the Nittany Lion Inn has something to offer. The historic Inn on Penn State’s University Park campus is slated for a change in ownership, and to get ready for that, the university's Lion Surplus opened the Inn for a sale this week, offering the public a chance to buy a piece of history — or at least a piece of furniture.
Ask Alex Thomas of Lock Haven.
“Me and my buddy came up for the deals," Thomas said. "There’s nowhere else you can get a king-size whole mattress set with a headboard and footboard for 50 bucks.”
With a cardboard box in hand, Thomas got a bonus buy, too.
“I found this box of half-used ethernet cable. I’m a computer nerd, and I’ll find some use for it," he said, before trying to find the water bottle he left somewhere in the smorgasbord of furniture.
Shoppers have been maneuvering their way through rooms and hallways at the landmark hotel this week, finding desks, lamps, mattresses and chairs. Not to mention old menu covers, garbage cans and old-fashioned looking gift card covers with a picture of the Inn. Like a giant yard sale, the wares range from the quirky — think decorative plastic cactus — to the practical — outdoor metal chairs.
Cody Musser, of Bellefonte, hit paydirt when he found a modest-looking box on a table.
“So these are room keys, and they’re plastic. They look like credit cards, right. I play guitar. So I have a pick punch. It’s like a hole-punch that punches guitar picks out of old credit cards. So, I’m going to make guitar picks out of these," he said. "It’ll probably make like 10,000 guitar picks.”
Musser was there with Kelly Kaiserian, who just bought a house in State College. She was having mixed success.
“So, I need dining room chairs, but someone bought all 180 of them in a pop," she said.
She did get four lamps though.
The sale comes as the Nittany Lion Inn is changing hands. In June, the university’s board of trustees approved a purchasing agreement with Scholar Hotel Group to buy the Inn and the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, while the university keeps the land. The university said the move would allow it to focus on its “core missions.”
The Inn has not operated as a hotel since 2020, with Penn State using it for student housing and classroom space since then.
So this week’s sale gave the public, including many Penn State graduates, a chance to see it one more time.
Tonya Aversa, of Emporium, held two decorative pillows in her arms. In town for some Christmas shopping, she said she and her daughter are both Penn State graduates.
“She was actually a hospitality major, so she worked here in the Nittany Lion Inn," Aversa said. "So I was like: I’m going to get her something just to remember.”
Jill Garrigan works on campus and made her way there when she was out for a run over lunch.
“I got married here, so that was another reason I thought I’d pop in and see," she said. "I thought it would be cool to just have one mirror or picture or something from here.”
Rick Bryant, of State College, said he’s been to many functions at the Nittany Lion Inn. He called it the end of an era.
“My high school friends worked here in junior high as maids and busboys," he said.
Bryant — who said he’s thrifty — was one of the people who lined up Monday morning when the sale opened. He found an ottoman and a chair that he went back to pick up later in the day.
“I’ve been looking for a Martha Washington chair and this is close enough.”
The trick for Bryant and others was maneuvering their finds around the other people and furniture.
Musser, who found the box of room keys, summed it up this way: “It’s pretty bananas. There’s a lot of stuff. A ton of stuff. It’s overwhelming.”
Penn State has said it expects the Inn to remain closed until 2024.
If you haven’t made it to the sale yet, there’s still time. It’s scheduled to run through 4:30 p.m. Friday.