Chances are there’s a government agency looking to offload one online.
Federal, state and city agencies are using Internet auction sites the way the rest of us do—as online garage sales.
"It's like eBay for governments," says Roger Gravley, vice president of client services and marketing at GovDeals.com. His company provides auction services to more than 4,800 agencies nationwide. "We may sell anything from surplus chairs to surplus helicopters."
From Surplus to StrangeThe Palm Beach County Florida sheriff’s office auctions included a motorcycle it had seized. The city of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey is selling a 2009 Harley Davidson police motorcycle with “VERY LOW MILEAGE”—though if bought by a civilian, it notes, “all emergency equipment would need to be removed prior to the transfer of ownership.”
Meanwhile, West Chester University in Pennsylvania is selling PreCor Elliptical Trainers, which are going for about $250 a pop. A recent search showed 474 lots of computers and computer supplies. On a similar site called PublicSurplus.com, Central Michigan University was hoping for $7,500 for a Wicks & Wilson RS 325 Roll Microfilm scanner and the County of Stafford, Virginia, was selling a file cabinet for $1. Yes, $1.
A third site, Municibid.com, serves more than 700 U.S. city and municipal governments. Recent offerings included a pallet of 50 printers (going for $1—but you have to pick them up in Louisiana in September), a swimming pool waterslide (currently going for $1,850, courtesy of the city of Butler, Penn.), and, er, a pallet of 20 typewriters (thanks, city of Baton Rouge!).
On all three sites you can search by type of equipment or by location, since you’ll have to arrange to fetch (or have shipped) whatever it is you’ve bought.