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Psst--want a great deal on 1,000 towels? How about 200 bright blue robes at bulk rate, or 1500 super-plush comforters at below wholesale? No, this isn’t the clearinghouse for long-lost laundry. James Taylor, Marketing Manager for TexPro’s Canadian health care supply, has taken a cue from Ebay, the Internet’s largest auction site, and launched, a place where industry buyers can bid on new, surplus linens from hospitals, resorts, and suppliers across the nation.

“Laundry is kind of a clique-y business,” says Taylor. “The whole idea of [] is basically to get people together, find out who’s out there, and who’s got what for sale. I’d been to a lot of trade shows where hospitals were saying things like, they’d bought a lot of sheets but now they were using colors--how can they get rid of them?” That question led Taylor to think that if there is a place on the Net where buyers and sellers could get together, they could start sharing product.

So far, although the site is still in its beginning stages, this has worked well. TexPro itself used the site to sell 1,200 surplus new flannel blankets which normally sell for $9.20 apiece in Canada; these went for only $6.40, below buyer’s cost. In addition, many items which would normally sell only in enormous bulk, making them unaffordable to small companies, are available at in small quantities--but at the bulk price, or cheaper. “This is [also] great because if someone likes [what they’ve purchased at auction], they can go back to that supplier later on and negotiate deals for longer term contracts,” Taylor explains.

Neither TexPro nor Taylor make any money off the site. TexPro simply advertises on it. The auction is entirely customer commanded, and the deals made have nothing to do with Taylor- they are between the buyer and the seller. To browse the goods for sale, a site user must register his or her name and a password. “We don’t share e-mail info with anybody,” Taylor asserts. “The main purpose of having registrations is so that bids can be tracked, and so that both parties can be notified when a bid wins.” Taylor also sends registered members e-mail notifications of special deals, like used items for sale which are not posted on

“The key benefit is for suppliers,” Taylor reveals. “Through the site, they can do business with different customers they might not have had contact with before.” However, small buyers can also have the experience of doing business with suppliers they might not otherwise encounter--or who ordinarily only sell in much larger quantities.

The site is easy to navigate, with full-color pictures and descriptions of each item up for bid. The auction works the same way as Ebay, where buyers type in their maximum bid, and are notified when they are outbid (or the winning bidders). Because most of the auctions are “Dutch auctions,” meaning that multiples of each item are being sold at once, the chances of winning are very good.

Marilyn Slade of the 80-bed Royal Ascot Care Centre in Vancouver discovered the site while buying from TexPro. “I checked out the on-line auction looking for some good buys and ended up putting a bid in on some white towels,” she says. “I won the bidding and got a terrific buy! ”She still faithfully shops TexPro, but notes, “Now I check the auction line each time I shop for supplies to see what bargains they have listed.”

“I’m friends with a lot of our competitor suppliers,” Taylor says. “Even though we’re competitors, we share ideas and buy stuff off each other. I’m hoping that users will make similar contacts, forgetting about competition for a while so that they can just benefit from what each of them have.”

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Got Bedbugs? Help Is Here

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ecolab Inc. and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) launched the, a free online resource to help hotel owners and operators stop bed bugs before they spread. The kit features downloadable materials on how to train staff to detect bed bugs early and actions to take when they suspect a guest room is infested. The digital toolkit includes a fact sheet about how bed bugs spread, their life-cycle and where they like to hide; a poster on bed bug detection; an instructional video showing where to inspect for bed bugs and what signs to look for; and a convenient pocket card for housekeeping staff with directions on how to inspect a room and what to do if bed bugs are found.