Nick D'Avanzo pointed past the Islanders team store toward the Nassau Coliseum concourse as if he saw an old friend.
The 58-year-old from Wantagh came to the building Monday for the Islanders' Coliseum collectible blowout sale, featuring unique items, mostly from suites and executive offices, in addition to discounted retail merchandise.
But like many others in attendance, he got lost in nostalgia. D'Avanzo said he worked at a Coliseum souvenir stand for 12 years, beginning at age 16.
"It's part of my life," he said of the 43-year-old arena. "I had a lot of firsts here: my first girlfriend, first job I ever had. It means more than just the Islanders; it's the whole Coliseum. It's a sad day [knowing] they're going to redo it."
The arena will close for renovation in August and is expected to reopen in December 2016. The Islanders will begin playing at Barclays Center in Brooklyn this season after signing a 25-year contract in 2012.
Terry Goldstein, Islanders director of licensing and retail operations, said the sale, which extends through Saturday, is special for fans since some items have been hanging in the building for the last 20-30 years.
"We're going to be closing up the Coliseum and we had some really neat things we thought fans would like to have an opportunity to purchase," Goldstein said. "We wanted to open our doors and give them a chance to have something to remember the Coliseum."
D'Avanzo bought an oversized replica Newsday cover from the Islanders' first Stanley Cup. A framed Bryan Trottier jersey, a team-autographed VIP parking sign, Coliseum concert photos and game-used Plexiglas were also among the memorabilia. Some items cost as much as $1,000.
Nicole Sapienza, 21, of Franklin Square opted for a Travis Hamonic shirt and panoramic poster of the Islanders' final regular-season game, significant since she was in attendance with her parents, boyfriend and aunt.
"It's awesome to have something to pass down . . . to tell my kids one day, we were there at the last game at Nassau Coliseum," Sapienza said.
The haul for Rich Napolitano, 44, of Oceanside and his daughter Zoie, 9, included a John Tavares poster and a home opener/season-finale ticket combo.
Napolitano, a season-ticket holder, said the two would not be going to games in Brooklyn because of distance and hassle, but their fandom isn't over. In fact, he said his daughter's Islanders memorabilia collection is just starting.
"The prices weren't an issue," Napolitano said. "It's memorabilia forever."