My Review of the February 2013 Louisiana State Surplus Auction

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

I went to the state surplus auction. Basically, once a month on the second Saturday the state of Louisiana sells off everything they don’t need anymore that isn’t nailed down.

This could be almost anything. Gurneys.  A gymnastics beam. A crazy golf cart.  A jet ski.  Basketball goals.  A literal truckload of chairs. Bookshelves.  Musical Instruments.  Cameras.  And so on and so on. They were selling around 1000 lots the day I was there.

Stuff from state agencies, schools, hospitals, seized property, etc. A huge wide variety of things being sold.

It was quite the experience… Here is my review of it:

I was there from 8 am to 1 pm for the auction and had to go back today to finish picking up the stuff I bought. You have three days before the auction from 8 am to 4 pm to preview the lots and 3 working days after to get all your stuff. Everything is sold as-is and a lot of the stuff is sold in large lots.

In fact one of the first things we saw sold was a pallet of around 250 laptops which sold for $1700 (before tax). They were shrink wrapped to the pallet and there was no way to know if any of them worked but I would guess at less than $8 each that the person who bought them was still going to make a tidy profit. I don’t recall who bought that lot but a huge chunk of the computers and medical equipment went to two men who bid against each other angrily the whole auction. I suspect they spent at least 15-20 thousand each.

At the preview, I picked some items to track which I found particularly neat. Unfortunately, I didn’t get data on any of the items outside because they sold them all while I was inside watching other items sell. It’s a shame because I wanted to know what the literal truckload of chairs would go for.

I tracked a bookshelf that went for $30. There was an older lightboard that I guess was still pretty good since it went for $190. In the case of small items were cameras that went for $60, $20, $30, $120, and more that I didn’t record. A flash went for $10 and some lenses for $40. A lamp I was tracking didn’t sell on its own so it got lumped in with the next lot (a camera) and went for $20.

Microscopes varied from $10 to $100. I was interested in getting one but the one that went for cheap was in really rough shape.

There was a pallet of lamps that my friend (who is also named Courtney) and I bid on together with a $40 cap. Unfortunately someone else got it at $40 and we didn’t want to go to $50 since we didn’t really need 10 or so assorted lamps…

Old school speakers went for $10.  (three of them) The sousaphones went for $600 each for 4 of them and $450 each for 3 of them. A pair of trumpets sold for $300. Some photo enlargers weren’t selling so they got grouped in with a mystery wooden box speakerish thing labeled monitor which a friend of mine bought for $10 together. So that he could discovery what the wooden thing was. The chalkboard sold for $60 and if I had a had a place to put it or a way to move it I may have bid on it…

File cabinets got grouped into threes and went for a wide range of prices. All more than I really wanted to spend. Not a lot, some of the trios went in the $50 range but none of them were quite what I wanted and I didn’t need three of them.

A friend bought a gurney and the two hospital beds that were grouped with it for only $40. Some surgical lights went for $140. A group of scales I was kinda eyeing got grouped with a baby bed that wasn’t selling and the group went for $50. A refrigerated centrifuge (the auction would be a great place to get set up to become a mad scientist) sold for $175.

Then there was the Medical Mannequin.  The lot before it didn’t sell so they got grouped together. The lot before it was a bunch of boxes of things for disposing of sharps/medical waste. The mannequin was grouped with two trash cans and a weird medical stand/lamp thing. I bid and got the pair of lots for $10!  (more about the downside of this purchase to come)

There was an amazing curio case that I really wanted. Metal, glass sides and door, adorable. While everyone was watching pallets of computers and printers sell, someone broke the front glass, took the door off and F***ing stole the hinge pins. Obviously they intended to drive the price down. (Why else would they take the hinge pins!!!) Despite this it still went for $80 which was $30 more than I had planned to spend on it had it not gotten broken.

I did manage to get a pair of leather chairs for $20. Initially they had planned to group them with the lots on either side of them to speed things up and I managed to get them to sell the lot as it was listed instead of with the others. Yay. I bid the first bid at $20 rather then letting him go to $10, bidding, someone else bidding $20 and me having to bid $30. A woman (the one who bought the lamps we wanted!) had been eyeing them so I think I used a good strategy.

Shortly after the chairs a set of four stools sold for $90 which seemed insane!

The other Courtney bought a nice wooden bookshelf for $40. She got so excited that she was visibly celebrating when she won it. The auctioneer kinda chuckled at her celebration.

A little cabinet with a tv went for $40 and a big magazine rack for $25.

There were two card catalogs, one big and one small for sale. For some reason, they were next to the tool chests. Which made a bunch of old men think they would be great places to store screws and other small things. This made them sell for insane prices. $175 for the big one and $60 for the small one though it was clear that the guy buying the small one would have paid well over $100 for it. The small one won’t even work well for screws as it has holes in the bottoms of the drawers!!

Back in medical land a giant medical freezer went for $70 while a metal cart that I suspect came from a hospital went for $30.

Oh and the gymnastics beam? (labeled LSU, so I know where it used to be) It only went for $30. I guess no one was sure how to move it or where to stick it.  I completely irrationally wanted it badly despite having no idea how one would move it or where it could be stuck…

The line to load things into cars was super long so we grabbed what we could carry to the parking lot- the chairs and the medical mannequin and decided to come back for the rest. Evidently we weren’t supposed to be able to take just the mannequin (you have to take the whole lot, not part at a time) but the door lady let us sign for just part of it mistakenly. I didn’t find out this had been not how it was supposed to be done until I went back for the rest of the lot.

Today we went back and picked up the boxes of sharps disposal things, (that a nurse has expressed interest in buying from me- I told her she could have them all for $5 – half what I paid for the two lots) the two small biohazard labeled trash cans (which honestly creep me out a little), and the medical stand/lamp thing.

They used a forklift to stick the stand in the car. I should have realized we weren’t going to be able to get it out… It was stuck. We could not lift it enough to slide it out of the trunk.  I tried putting the tire jack under it in the trunk and using that to lift it up over the lip of the trunk to no avail. Eventually we got some strong help and my uselessness when it comes to lifting was replaced. Using pvc pipe under it we rolled it into the garage and now I get to either find someone who wants it to pick it up or call a scrap metal place that does pick up. Essentially the medical mannequin cost the $10 plus the giant headache of the friggin medical stand/lamp thing. It has to weigh 400 lbs and is mostly metal…

I will say that I think this awesome medical mannequin with organs made out of plaster and wood and not plastic is worth it. I suspect it is from the 70’s..

inside the torso

I am giving it to my awesome artist sister.

All together I really enjoyed the auction – it was super exciting being there – and will be going back in a future month for sure! In fact the friend who helped us get the stand out of the trunk wants to go to an auction too!

My photos from the auction preview and from what I bought (with more mannequin pics) are both on my flickr.