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And in California, the company’s efforts to avoid charging sales tax forced it to cut ties with merchandisers who generated 5 percent of Overstock’s revenue, he said.

Overstock reported a loss of $16 million for the first nine months of 2011, compared with a loss of $1 million in 2010. The company has generated profits in only two of its dozen years in business as it tries to compete in a crowded field of Internet liquidators.

“They’re expecting growth for the holiday quarter, but they have to dig themselves out of a hole,” Kurnos said.

Overstock says things are looking up _ Cyber Monday sales after Thanksgiving weekend were the largest ever for the company. The company once aspired to take on Internet goliaths, but competitors Amazon and eBay generate sales 30 or more times greater.

On Thursday, some Utah consumers were just happy to grab a quick deal and unwrap it at home.

Others who described themselves as more serious bidders were holding onto their wallets until the end of the one-day auction, when they hoped to pick up stuff for pennies on the dollar.

Douglas Larson, a home renovator looking for furniture, was unimpressed by Overstock’s emphasis on the full retail value of goods.

Nobody pays full retail, he sniffed.

“So you cut that in half right away, then cut it in half again,” he said.

That was his bidding strategy, but he complained he couldn’t inspect any of the shrink-wrapped boxes of goods.