Secrets of My Favorite Government Auction
I love bargains. And there’s no better place to find bargains than an auction. And there are no better auctions than government surplus auctions. My favorite government surplus auction takes place the 3rd week of September every year in the County Park. I won’t tell you which county park as this is my best-kept secret! Even though the auction is advertised in the local papers (as required my law), I usually find the same 20-30 people mulling around, looking at all the lots. And many of them I know are not high-bidders!
This annual auction is the county-wide surplus auction. You will find everything and anything here as the county has various and departments. They have the typical office equipment and furniture, cars, trucks, law equipment, etc. But some more unusual things that have been auctioned off have been things like a street sign maker (for making stop signs and the like), a row of metal lockers (from the old county pool), playground equipment, 5000 plastic cafeteria trays (that sold for $8!), a stainless steel chef’s cart, a chrome torpedo trash can, and a fully operational dump truck that went for several hundred dollars.
Since I have been attending for many years, I know what to expect and I know how much to pay. For example, they typically have a dozen retro office chairs that sell very well on ebay. The opening bid on the chairs is usually $5.00 each. However, by not bidding, I can usually wait (and luckily no one else knows what a gold mine these chairs are…they just look like dirty old chairs!), and the auctioneer will lower the opening bid to $3.00, then $2.00, then $1.00, then fifty cents! Still, I am patient and wait as he throws in two or three more chairs for fifty cents! My last trip to the auction, I netted seven chairs for $4.00! I turned around and sold them for $25.00 each!
This is just one of the examples of the deals that I have found at the County Auction. The secret to my success is three-fold:
1. I know what is “hot” in the market by browsing ebay, watching HGTV, and flipping through home magazines.
2. I know what the going retail prices are and keep these in mind when I am bidding. I usually arrive at the auction early with a notebook and check out all the lots that will be auctioned. I jot down the lots numbers and the highest price I am willing to pay for that lot.
3. When the bidding starts, I wait for someone else to start the bidding. I place myself so I can “read” how badly they want the item. I will wait to place my bid. I never get caught-up in the bidding. And I always bow out at my high price that I wrote in my notebook. This way I can avoid buyer’s remorse!
Using these tactics, I have successfully won many items at the local auction and have made a huge profit reselling these items. If you use these techniques, you will also be successful at your local auction. I just hope you never find my gem of an auction, and never bid against me!