When I was a student at university, the school ran a weekly sale where they would get rid of their excess inventory that the university didn't need any more. Older equipment, office furniture from refurbished rooms, the materials of former professors, and items left behind by departing students were on sale there at liquidation prices.
The first time I visited this sale, I was absolutely amazed. There were tons of desks, chairs, computer parts, filing cabinets and other things at great prices. Sure, many of the items were a bit old, but some of them were in stunning shape.
That day, I spent $4 and walked away with a solid wood desk and a wooden chair that I used for years during my college life. In fact, I'd still be using it – except I passed it on to another student that I was mentoring late in my college years.
Since then, whenever I've needed office supplies or other such materials, I head to a sale like this one. Estate sales. Excess inventory sales. Liquidation sales.
When I needed a filing cabinet, the first place I looked for it wasn't at Staples. It was at a liquidation sale, where several old filing cabinets were on sale for a few bucks each. That's a hundred dollars in savings for my small business versus shopping at Office Depot.
When I needed a desk and a chair, I hit several yard sales and a few estate sales. The best one I found cost $10 for the whole set, saving me a hundred dollars compared to the superstores. I saw several such desks that would have worked perfectly well, but there was so much selection at such a huge discount that I could be quite picky.
When I needed office supplies, I stopped at a business liquidation sale. There were three other people there and they seemed mostly interested in IT supplies. I made a lowball offer on some of the office supplies and walked out with $100 worth of stuff for about $20 (and $100 worth of office supplies will last me for quite a while).
These cost savings can make a big difference for a small business that has replacement costs or startup costs on such supplies. Such sales can reward you with countless supplies and infrastructure, from power cables to low-end computers and printers to office supplies – the options are endless, and cheap.
Going beyond that, some businesses can actually find saleable product at such events. The last time I stopped at a going-out-of-business sale, the only other people I noticed at the sale were people from the competition scooping up inventory for themselves.
The next time you have infrastructure needs, don't start off by planning an expensive trip to the office supply store. Step back and see if there aren't other resources in your area to help you fill these needs. Do you have a large university nearby that has liquidation sales? Are there any estate sales coming up in your area? Are there any business liquidation sales going on?
Take advantage of the resources that others aren't using. Turn those resources into a cost advantage for you. Estate sales, liquidation sales, and other such opportunities can turn into money in your pocket.
Image credit: sflaw