Just days after September 11, 2001, Ray Cervai woke up to the sound of someone crying. The news had just broken that all flight operations of beleaguered Ansett Australia would be suspended.
“It felt like someone had shot me in the stomach,” Cervai told The Guardian.
Cervai was the official supplier of merchandise to the airline and in his shed had about half a million dollars worth of Ansett paraphernalia.
A day after the airline’s collapse, Cervai received an offer to buy his stock at 20 cents a t-shirt and 30 cents a jumper.
Ray told them no - though a bit more colourfully than that - and instead set up a website to sell the items.
Sales were slow at the beginning, but of late have really picked up.
“Now it’s selling like hotcakes, it’s hard to believe,” Cervai said.
Back in 2017, Ray supplied indie band Client Liaison with Ansett props for a music video and now notices a spike in sales after the band has a concert. In fact, the group has even started a petition urging administrators to rebrand Virgin Australia to Ansett Australia.
For the most part though, Cervai’s customers are ex-Ansett employees who get together for reunions throughout the country.
Cervai, whose first job was to deliver mail to Ansett, met his wife at the company and his children refer to him as the ‘Ansett man’ mostly because of his Ansett wardrobe and for giving them airline-themed gifts.
“I can’t let it go,” he said.
“I’ll see my time out selling all this stuff, not for the money. It’s about, what does that guy in The Castle say, it’s the vibe of the thing. To keep Ansett alive.”
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