BY GREG SAITZ
And if you've got enough cash, the towering fiberglass St. Nick, right arm raised in greeting, eyes wide open and mouth agape like he just realized he left the oven on at the North Pole, could be yours.
The 40-foot-tall "huge Santa," as he's described in a brochure, is just one of hundreds of items being auctioned Saturday, April 25, as part of the liquidation of the iconic outdoor furniture store on Route 46 in Wayne. The business, perhaps as famous for its unusual Christmas displays as for being the inspiration behind the name of a pop rock band and the backdrop for a Sopranos episode, closed its doors last month and filed a version of bankruptcy in state court."Fountains of Wayne has a real long, deep history in Wayne and surrounding towns," said attorney Stephen Ravin, a court-appointed assignee who is in charge of unwinding the business and raising cash for its creditors. "My understanding from the principal of the company is it was basically the downturn in the economy affected their sales so drastically they couldn't afford to be in business anymore."
Now everything from Santa at a sushi restaurant display to the cash registers is being sold. In all, there are 6,193 items being auctioned in 607 lots, said Randy Fridkis of Randy L. Fridkis Auctions.
Items include patio tables and chairs, cushions, outdoor statues, planters, an old British style red phone booth, water pumps, delivery trucks, fork lifts and of course, fountains. There are also the various Christmas and other scenes the store used to put on display during the holidays: Santa underwater, Santa sleeping, characters from The Wizard of Oz, Santa among pirates, what is described as an "animal sports scene," Santa on the set of "Survivor," Santa in Hawaii and others.
"We're hopeful that with regard to the displays, maybe one or more businesses will be interested in continuing the tradition," Fridkis said.
Fountains of Wayne had been known regionally for decades as a treasure for New Jersey kitsch. But in 1996, musician and Montclair native Adam Schlesinger appropriated the name for his band, which is widely known for its 2003 hit, Stacy's Mom.
In addition, part of a 2001 Sopranos episode was filmed at the store. Fridkis and Ravin said they haven't heard from anyone in the band or The Sopranos about the auction.
Ravin anticipated the auction could bring in between $150,000 and $200,000, although it could be more if people interested in memorabilia show up. The store name, however, isn't part of the sale - the owners never trademarked it.
"Unfortunate for the creditors but good for the rock band," Ravin said.
Fridkis said the "huge Santa" has been disassembled and now is in several pieces. But he said crews will soon decide whether it's safe to put him back together for the auction to give one final wave to Fountains of Wayne.
For more details about the items being sold at the auction, go to www.auctionsaleinfo.com. The auction starts at 1 p.m. Saturday, with a preview beginning at 9:30 a.m. at 491 Route 46 in Wayne.