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Start a Business Selling Government Surplus
Did you ever wonder what happens to all that government equipment that is purchased each year by federal, state, and local governments? They don't just throw it away! By law, all unused and out-dated equipment must be sold back to the public at a public auction! That's right. Everything is available to you and I the American taxpayer. There are primarily two ways that the government does this: on-site auctions or online auctions.
At an on-site auction, the government agency disposing of the property must usually post a public notice about the auction such as the location, date, time, and items to be auctioned off. There is usually an inspection period, especially if there are high-priced items that are to be auctioned off. Bidding is usually open to anyone, but you generally must pre-register on-site at the auction to bid. On site auctions may include items like used vehicles, boats, aircraft, computer equipment and military surplus. Some of the items are new, most are used, and a small percentage of it is junk.
Online Auctions are available to anyone with an internet connection and can be found on various website. The federal government typically uses the GSA auction site at gsa.gov/auctions. The military uses govliquidation.com. State and local governments may have their own websites. You may need to call your local government agency to find out how they handle surplus property.
The fun part is actually bidding and winning items. You can easily purchase things at 80%-90% off of retail! I personally purchased a color laser printer at 10% of it's value! Granted, I needed to drive 3 hours to pick it up and I needed to clean it once I got it home, but it works flawlessly.
The business part of the equation is in purchasing large lots of equipment. I personally buy and sell large quantities of computer and office equipment. You can purchase computer and monitors by the skid load! I resell to friends and neighbors who get a good deal as well. I can sell them equipment 50% off of retail and still double my money! The local government auctions usually have the best deals as there are typically fewer bidders competing against you. I purchased $12,000 worth of computer equipment for $65! I also picked up a conference table and beautiful retro conference chairs!
Remember though, to bid with your head and not above it. Research carefully what you are interested in and what it would bring in resale. Set a firm price in your mind and don't go over that price. Don't ever get caught up in the heat of the moment when the bidding starts going crazy! Take a step back and re-evaluate before you pay more for something than you wanted to.
Dean Novosat regularly attends local government auctions and participates online.
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