Lets not get too crazy here. I don't think any members are (or at least should be) upset that the items were offered to the staffers first. At the wine shop on my corner, the staffers pick through the 'clearance' bottles the instant they hit the shelves. This is completely normal - its these little perks that make our jobs not completely suck. I think objecting to that is like objecting to not being invited to REI's employee Christmas party just because you joined the co-op.
Plus, the staffers are the reason this thing exists. I have no objection whatever to them having first dibs to BUY the product. Hell, they could have just kept it all for free, and we would have never known.
But, I think the point about the dues are what acquires the gear that is ultimately sold to the community is a salient one. To the extent that our dues bought the gear, we should have first dibs buying it back. Moreover, even if the gear was donated (as I understand is often the case), our dues keep the organization running, so that the testing exists, so that gear companies are donating products that they hope will get written about. So even in the case of donated gear, I think the argument applies equally...it couldn't happen without our dues, and we should have the first shot at being the 'lucky ones' to pick up the closeout items.
This is a very good point that hopefully the BPL staff (who most of us agree do a wonderful job) will bear in mind going forward.
But I don't think its productive to focus on the offer to the staffers. Just as we are arguing that there is a difference between members and non-members, and this difference warrants different treatment, I think too that there is a difference, a real, meaningful difference, between somebody who works here and somebody who made a one-time $100 payment...and that difference likewise warrants different treatment.
My two cents.