Strange things are happening in Ohio right now—and we're not talking about the Republican National Convention.
Someone is trying to sell the world's largest picnic basket for a tad under $600,000.
This isn't just any picnic basket, as you might have already imagined. Instead, it is a seven-story-tall, 200-foot-wide, 180,000 square foot picnic basket that would make a unique headquarters for your corporation. Even an al fresco lover like Yogi Bear has never seen a picnic basket like this one. (Although we're pretty sure Boo-Boo spent a couple years drifting through the Midwest, so he might know what's up.)
The very large basket was built in the late 90s for the basket-making company called Longaberger. The building—which is located in Newark, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus—is made of clay and stucco; the 80-foot-high handles alone took 18 months to build. The structure is 160 times the size of a standard Longaberger basket and cost $32 million to construct.
Back in the 90s, the Longaberger company had 3,600 employees and made 7 million hardwood maple baskets per year. More recently, things have not been going so well for the company and their famous headquarters has fallen into disrepair.
Dave Longaberger, the mastermind behind the building and the man who started the company, died in 1999, and the company is still struggling to pay overdue property taxes arising from the construction of the building. Only ten office workers remain. The company's current CEO, John Rochon Jr., recently made the momentous decision to move the company out of the basket and relocate the remaining employees to its manufacturing plant in Frazeyburg, Ohio. Then, he decided, to sell the picnic basket. The employees moved out last week.
The basket is something of a tourist attraction. The mayor of Newark, Ohio had a point when he said, back when the joint was built, "It's going to bring people here to see it just like they go to New York to see the Empire State Building." Well, maybe it's not "just like" that, but people do consider the picnic basket to be worthy of a detour.
Also, in the words of Dave Dahnke, a senior manager with the architecture firm that built the place, "It looks like a picnic basket in the middle of a field. It's a piece of pop art."
So, if you'd like to own a piece of art in the form of an enormous picnic basket in Ohio, you now can. But it'll cost you. "At this point, the minimum bid would be $570,000 plus court costs," said Licking County Auditor Mike Smith. "You could own the Big Basket for less than $600,000."
Let's hope the basket finds a buyer. We wouldn't want the Big Easter Basket in Lorain, Ohio to be the only ridiculously large basket in the Buckeye State.