It may be another week until Black Friday, but the government is already slashing prices and rolling out the deals.
Yes, the government.
“The government is a public service entity, but (the Division of) Surplus Property more or less is geared as a retail business outlet,” said director Eric Bray, during a tour of the division’s 75,000-square-foot warehouse on Monday.
“We’re like a private industry within the public sector.”
The Division of Surplus Property will have a spot bid sale (similar to a silent auction) for the public Wednesday at its warehouse on Chenault Road.
It’s an appendage of the Finance and Administration Cabinet for selling excess federal and state property. The warehouse contains everything from old desks and chairs to toenail clippers and pocketknives – all sold at a fraction of the price new.
“What we normally try and do is stay between a range of 10 and 20 percent of the total acquisition cost of what it cost new,” Bray said.
“It’s a tremendous savings.”
In the last sale in September, a microwave went for less than $5, two computer tables sold for less than $2, and several cabinets sold for about $3, according to the division’s website.
Bray said one of the best deals at the spot bid sale were the vehicles. Three Chevy Tahoes sold for about $800 each, and three Jeep Grand Cherokees went for less than $2,000 each.
Most of the stuff at the warehouse is unwanted or outdated office furniture or school supplies coming from federal and state agencies and local schools, Bray said.
But there’s another section of the warehouse dedicated to what usually is their strangest variety of items – those confiscated at airports.
Boxes of toenail clippers, lighters, pocketknives, cigar cutters and anything else deemed a weapon by TSA standards are taken to the warehouse and sold. Some of those “weapons” have included bowling balls, water guns and mini-Louisville slugger souvenir bats.
The division has a public auction about once a month, but its main purpose is to provide furniture and supplies to local government agencies, public schools and nonprofits.
Cindy Lanham, spokesperson for the Finance and Administration Cabinet, said Surplus Property is a great resource for government and non-profit agencies on a tight budget. She also said the division helps the government “go green.”
“Another focus now in current times is recycling … and this is essentially one big recycling facility,” Lanham said.
“Everything’s being reutilized and repurposed instead of being trashed and disposed of.”
Lanham said most of the furniture in the Capitol and Capitol Annex comes from Surplus Property. In 2008, Gov. Beshear issued an executive order that new furniture purchases “be limited to those necessary to meet critical business needs” and all such requests for new furniture need to be reviewed by the Exceptions Committee.
Most states have a division of surplus property, but Bray said Kentucky’s is one of the largest and most efficient because it is self-sustaining.
The money earned from sales goes back into operating the facility, which has allowed Surplus Properties to hire carpenters, upholsterers and painters to refurbish property to be sold back to public agencies and the people.
All money earned from federal surplus property sales goes back to the facility, but the division can put money earned from state surplus property sales back into the facility or into the state’s general fund.
Bray said this not only saves taxpayers money, but also allows the facility to operate on “zero” taxpayer dollars. He said this fact seems to confuse people, since the division is part of the government, but Bray said he had the records to prove they’re a self-sustaining operation.
“We’re an anomaly,” Bray said, laughing.
For those that can’t make Wednesday’s auction, Surplus Property sells items to public at all times through the KY Surplus store on eBay.
Division of Surplus Property spot bid sale
When: Wednesday, Nov. 16
Time: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Division of Surplus Property, 999 Chenault Road
To see a list of items available, go to http://finance.ky.gov