Government Surplus Auctions
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It’s a bit of a fad (for lack of a better term) in the popular culture right now — people are gearing up for the end of the world. The television reality series “Doomsday Preppers” on the National Geographic channel is currently enjoying a period of fairly immense popularity. There’s no doubt that a good number of people appear to be quite sure that the proverbial doo-doo is about to hit the fan — and they’re getting ready for it. The interesting thing is that this trend is translating into hot markets in the military surplus industry.
Recently I ran into an old friend who had an interesting story to tell. He had recently happened upon a notice for an upcoming military surplus auction that would be taking place in the next state over from his own — the exact location of which happened to be less than a two hour drive from his house. He decided to spend the day checking out that auction. While there, he bid on, and won, an entire pallet full of military surplus ALICE packs (ALICE – All-purpose, Lightweight, Individual, Carrying Equipment) He managed to achieve the high bid with an offering of just $180.00. Turns out, there was just over 160 ALICE packs boxed up on that pallet. That’s a per unit cost of less than a buck and a quarter. Not bad!
So, he loads his purchase onto his truck, hauls it home and starts looking to move it as a complete lot. He was hoping that he might be able to move the entire lot for somewhere around four times what he paid. He figured that if he could unload the whole pallet for around $700.00, he wouldn’t have any complaints at all. And, at that price, a buyer would still be getting each pack for a little more than $4.25 — which should have been quite attractive for any buyer looking to again resell the packs individually to individual buyers. However, at first, he experienced some difficulty in trying to locate a buyer for the whole she-bang.
Originally, he tried offering the lot of ALICE packs around for a price of $900.00, with the intention of being willing to haggle down to his goal price of $700.00. But, he couldn’t find anyone that was interested. So, he dropped his offer price to $800.00 and intended to accept a counter offer as low as $600.00. But, again, no takers. He dropped his price again to $650.00 and resigned himself to being willing to accept $300.00 if it was offered (less than twice what he paid.) Still, he could find nobody who was interested in purchasing the lot — even at that price.
He wasn’t giving up yet, however. He kept trying to locate a buyer for the lot. But, in the meantime, he put one of the ALICE packs up for sale on Craigslist with an asking price of $10.00 for the single pack. Within about an hour of the ad being published he received an email from someone who was interested in taking a look at the pack. They made arrangements for the interested person to go by my friend’s house on his way home from work. The guy showed up, took a look at the pack and immediately pulled out a $10.00 bill and handed it to my friend.
“You got any other military stuff you’re looking to get rid of?” The guy said as he handed my friend the money.
“Just more ALICE packs the same as this one.” My friend replied, “I’m sitting on a whole pallet full of them that I’ve been trying to move.”
“Really?” The buyer answered back, “I’ll take four more, then.”
And, with that, he pulled out two twenty dollar bills and handed them to my friend.
A pretty good deal. He’d just sold five ALICE packs for $50.00 and his cost for those five packs was about $5.50 — he sold them for close to ten times what he paid for them. He quickly went back inside and put another add on Craigslist, this time listing one of the ALICE packs at $15.00 instead of $10.00. Again, within a very short time, someone interested in buying one contact him. That guy showed up and ended up buying two packs. My friend had just made another quick sale, acquiring $30.00 for what cost him a total of about $2.25 — a mark-up of more than 1300%
My friend told me that, after that, he kept putting up ads, and people kept buying the packs. He experimented with different prices, but ended up finding that they seemed to sell best at $15.00 per pack. He sold out of his entire lot in just under four weeks — pulling in a total of more than $2,000.00 in gross sales on his initial purchase of just $180.00.
My friend reported that, over and over again, when conversing with the people who were buying the packs off of him, the people would mention something about the show Doomsday Preppers, or something about being prepared for catastrophe. It became apparent that a good number of people were interested in, and buying these military surplus ALICE packs as part of their own doomsday preparations. This current trend in the popular culture — perhaps because of the TV show, or perhaps along side of it — had created a hot market in the surplus industry.
My friend with the ALICE packs, ever since, has been sourcing other such military surplus gear that would also appeal to the same sort of buyer, and he’s been making a small fortune doing it.
In the surplus business game, as with in any industry, it’s important to have an eye for marketplace trends. Hot markets pop-up sometimes seemingly out of nowhere. If you can recognize them, your pocket-book can benefit greatly. My friend sort of happened to luck into this current trend that’s going on in military surplus equipment. But, if you can keep your eyes and ears open, you can learn to recognize trends like these as they’re happening. You don’t need luck — just a keen sense for emerging market trends.
Everybody knows that one of the absolute surest ways of making money in business is the “buy low and sell high” model. And, it goes without saying, the lower you can buy an item for, and the higher you can turn around and sell that same item for, the more money you’ll make. It is precisely for this reason that sourcing potential trade items from surplus providers is so attractive to so many. There are few, if any, other avenues that hold an equal potential to provide a buyer with lower priced, quality merchandise which can then be re-sold for higher profit margins than government surplus sources.
Through government surplus outlets and auctions, a buyer is able to locate all manner of various goods very inexpensively and re-sell those items at a substantial profits. Such cheaply sourced items can be re-sold easily, effectively and without much overhead, through on-line means such as eBay and other online auction services, flea markets, junk sales, Craigslist or print classified advertising, mail-order, liquidation centers, and more.
Sourcing merchandise intended for resale from government surplus sources offers very attractive profit potential because government surplus sources aren’t likely to be as concerned with obtaining the highest prices for their surplus merchandise as are private, commercial sellers. When it comes to government surplus sales — such as government surplus auctions, or government direct liquidation — the sales are being run and handled by government employees. This means, of course, that it wasn’t their personal money that was used to procure the items in the first place. It was tax-payer money. The sellers have no personal stake or financial investment in the sale of the items which they need to make certain they recoup. So, they are not strongly motivated to make sure that they obtain the best possible price on a sale. At least, they’re not nearly as motivated as a private seller would be — one who, if they are unable to obtain a good price for the item they have personal capital invested in, might not be able to provide for themselves or their families as well as they would have liked. The government employees overlooking the sale of the government surplus items you’re interested in purchasing are getting paid the same wage whether the item sells or not, and regardless of how much it sells for. Whether an item ends up being sold for one dollar or a million dollars, the people overseeing the sale make the same wage.
Now, many people that are inexperienced in the game of flipping goods obtained from government surplus sources are very often under the mistaken impression that government surplus really means military surplus. And, that most of the types of goods available have very specific military applications only and, thus, appeal only to a very specific and somewhat limited market, making the items obtained somewhat difficult to re-sell unless you already have avenues of distribution set-up within that market. This, however, is not the case at all. Military surplus actually only accounts for a small portion of the surplus merchandise that various government departments sell off practically every day. Most of the merchandise that makes up regular government surplus sales are items with very mundane, every-day, civilian usages.
At government surplus auctions and distributors it’s common to find things as ordinary and mundane as office furniture, consumer camera, photography and other types of audio-visual equipment, regular clothing, consumer computer equipment, various electrical and kitchen appliances, musical instruments, hand tools, exercise equipment, janitorial supplies and equipment, and much, much more.
Of course, with all the attraction that’s obviously inherent in exploiting government surplus sources in order to make money flipping surplus merchandise, there really doesn’t seem to be a lot of people actually doing it. And, one must wonder why this is. The reason is fairly straight forward, however. I explained above how the people who run these government surplus sales aren’t personally motivated to get the best prices for the items being sold. And, of course, for this exact same reason, these government surplus sales aren’t widely advertised. The truth is, most people just don’t know about these government surplus sales. The sellers aren’t personally motivated to publicize the sales in order to bring in the widest array of potential buyers and make sure the items are moved for the best possible prices. This is another reason why merchandise can be obtained at such great prices from government surplus sources — there’s less competition among buyers than there usually is at private sales, simply because less people are aware of them.
So, all you really need to do is find these under-publicized sales. Fortunately, we’ve published articles right here on SurplusBusiness.Com in the past that will explain to you the best methods of going about finding these sales. Check out just some of our articles listed below for more information:
So, these are the attractive advantages of government surplus when it comes to turning a profit by buying low and selling high: The sales tend to not be well publicized, which means less competition among buyers. Which, of course, means less demand and less buyers running up prices. Government surplus auctions tend to place items up for bid with either very low, or absolutely no reserve price. Coupled with the less than normal buying competition, this means that, often, even placing a ridiculously low-bid on an item can result in a winning bid.
Just recently, I was at a government surplus auction where a lot of antique shaving kits — never used and still in their original packaging — came up for auction. I know there’s a small, but fairly enthusiastic, collector’s market for such items. I estimated the re-sale value of the lot at around $500.00 But, since the market is so small, it probably would have been a hassle to move them quickly, if I won the bid.
In this particular case, it was a silent auction. In such an auction, you don’t get to know what other people have bid. You enter the most you’re willing to pay, and at the end of the day, the person who entered the highest amount wins the item for the amount they entered. Even though I knew the re-sale value was around $500.00, the reserve price placed on this particular item was set at only $25.00.
So, I thought, “What the hell!” I’ll put in the minimum bid. I don’t really want the hassle of trying to move the items in such a limited market — so, if I don’t win it, I won’t be all that disappointed. But, if I do somehow manage to win them for the minimum bid, I’ve pretty much got to go for it. If I don’t get it, I don’t get it. No big deal. I didn’t expect to win the bid. But, I did. As it turned out, nobody else even placed a bid on the item. And, as luck would have it, I actually did find a buyer fairly quickly and with relatively little hassle. I paid exactly $25.00 for the lot, and within two weeks I found a buyer and sold the entire lot for $380.00. A profit of $355.00. Not bad!
The thought of making money by flipping cars from auctions or flipping surplus vehicles obtained at auction is very attractive to a number of people. And, there’s good reason for this: there is most certainly good money to be made by flipping cars from auctions and the process can be very interesting and fun.
It’s possible to obtain used cars from auctions — be they government surplus auctions, or private auctions of used or surplus vehicles — for quite literally pennies on the dollar. It’s possible to find automobiles that are able to be purchased at substantial discounts and then turn around and sell them directly to private buyers for a higher price, simply because most buyers either aren’t aware that such auctions even exist, or, if they do, they don’t know how to go about locating these auctions nor how to take part. Or, if you’re mechanically savvy, there are even greater profits to be made flipping cars from auctions by acquiring automobiles at auction that require some minor work, putting in the work needed, and then flipping the cars for a substantially greater markup.
The one hindrance, however, that many people are likely to encounter if they have a serious mind to regularly earning a significant amount of money by flipping cars from auctions, is the need for a used car dealer’s license. In many places in North America a person is limited to only being legally able to sell a very small number of either new or used automobiles every year before they are required to obtain a dealer’s license. The exact number of cars one is able to legally sell in any given year without needing to hold a valid used car dealer’s license varies somewhat depending on location, but in most jurisdictions the number of automobiles one is legally able to sell annually is limited to just three vehicles. That equals just one sale every four months. Of course, the profits which you’re likely to earn by buying and selling only three used cars in a year isn’t very likely going to be worth your while.
Flipping Cars From Auctions — The Reality
The reality is, if you seriously want to turn flipping cars from auctions into an actual side business, or something more, you really are going to need to acquire a valid dealer’s license. Unfortunately this is not easily done. The process is a convoluted, somewhat confusing and very often painful experience if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of it. Fortunately, there are experienced people out there, who will act in a consultancy capacity, whose business it is to help you through the process and make the act of obtaining your own used car dealer’s license as simple and painless as possible.
If you’re thinking seriously about earning regular money, either as a hobby, a side-business or part-time business, or even as a full time business, by flipping cars from auctions, the fact of the matter is that you’re going to need a used car dealer’s license. And, unless you have experience obtaining a dealer’s license and know the ins and outs of what is required in order to obtain one, you’re not extremely likely to be successful in your endeavor. You’ll most probably need to use the services of someone who is knowledgeable and has experience helping people like you to obtain a dealer’s license.
One such person who works with people in order to help them obtain their own dealer’s license is Don Massey — a licensed car dealer from Colorado. Don has more than twenty years of experience in helping people to obtain used car dealer’s licenses.
Probably the best part of holding a valid dealer’s license is that the dealer’s license will give you access to dealer-only auto auctions that take place all over the country almost every day. Holding a valid dealer’s license also gives you access to proprietary databases accessible through the internet that are maintained by the auction companies that hold dealer-only auctions. These restricted access databases (open only to people who hold a valid dealer’s license) provide information on all of the sales made at these auctions — what cars sold, extensive details about each car and what they actually sold for. Having access to this information will allow you to price automobiles much more effectively than anyone who doesn’t have access to such information.
There’s absolutely no doubt that if you’re thinking about flipping cars from auctions on any sort of a regular basis, you really must hold a valid dealer’s license.
Flipping Cars From Auctions — Helpful Link Resources:
- Obtaining a Dealer’s License.
- Auto Auction Locating Service.
- Canadian Government Surplus Vehicle Auctions
- US Government Surplus Vehicles Auctions
- Government Vehicle Auctions Locating Service
It used to be that if you wanted in on the incredible bargains available at government surplus auctions, you had to do an awful lot of footwork. Just locating government surplus auctions and figuring out where and when these auctions would be held was quite a chore, as they tended not to be very well advertised. Then, of course, once you found an upcoming government surplus auction, you had to actually, physically go to the location in order to take part.
Today, however, we’re living in the electronic age and, as with many things, government surplus auctions have now moved into the online world. Government surplus online auctions have become exceedingly more popular over the last decade. No longer does an interested buyer need to spend the time or gas money to actually travel to the government surplus online auction they once did — all of your auction bidding can now be done in front of a computer, right from the comfortable surroundings of your very own home.
Actually knowing where on the internet one needs to go in order to take part in one of these government surplus online auctions isn’t knowledge that everyone has, however. Even in this age of the internet, it still takes a fair amount of searching. Fortunately, there are services available such as the one offered by GovernmentAuctions.Org, and AuctionPass, which act as both government surplus online auction, and more traditional, offline government auction locating services. The more reputable of these services, such as those mentioned above, are truly invaluable tools if you’re looking to get a leg up and really snag the absolute best deals on things like federal government surplus vehicles, or local or state government surplus automobiles, government surplus equipment, surplus furniture, government surplus ammo, machinery, clothing, government land auctions, and just about anything else you can think of. GovernmentAuctions.Org also offers auction locating services for both American and Canadian government surplus auctions, as well as repo auctions, police auctions, military government auctions and much more.
Of course, if you’re someone who is interested in purchasing quality government auctions cars, you will probably want to check out our very own, updated hourly, live surplus vehicle auction listing that’s located here. Be sure to bookmark that page and check back every so often, as the best deals quite often get snatched up soon after being posted. If you’re in the market for more general military government auctions goods, or other non-military general government auctions surplus items, you’ll probably also want to check out our other listings located here and here as well. Live listings for military surplus items are located here.
With all of that said, it should be clear that while the modern electronic age has made locating such government auctions of surplus goods much, much less of a chore than it once was, it’s still not an entirely simple task for many people. The truth of the matter is that many of these government surplus online auctions just aren’t advertised or promoted all that well. Internet search engines can often make the task of locating government surplus online auctions fairly difficult as, recently, there has been a trend for the major search engines to favor commercial websites willing to dump money into the search engine’s advertising schemes. This pushes the actual government surplus online auctions information that you’re probably looking for deep down into the search results and brings advertisers who just want to sell you something up to greater prominence in the returned results. The effect, of course, is that you’ll need to spend time and effort hunting through those results in order to find the information you’re looking for.
In fact, you’re probably on this page right now because you’ve become frustrated in trying to locate the information you need and are looking for tips on how best to go about doing so. There does certainly seem to be a lot of talk on the internet about these great government surplus online auctions taking place all the time, but there doesn’t really seem to be very much direct information regarding where they are and how to find them exactly. That’s why we offer our live, updated-hourly surplus auction listings. And, if you’re truly interested in maximizing your ability to find the absolute best government surplus auctions — ones taking place both online and offline — your best bet really is to take advantage of a competent government auction locating service like the ones mentioned above.
There really are an absolute ton of amazing bargains to be had at these auctions — bargains that most people just don’t know about. And, while it can still be somewhat tricky to locate these government surplus online auctions by yourself — even in this age of instant information via the internet — there are services available to you that will give you a remarkable advantage in both finding the auctions you wish to take part in, or even teaching you the information you need in how to find government surplus online auctions on your own — whether you happen to be looking for either American or Canadian government surplus online auctions.
Government Surplus Auction Websites:
- General Services Administration Government Auction Listings.
- Canadian Federal Government Surplus Auction Website.
When thinking of picking up some real bargains on items such as camping gear, items of furniture, various tools and construction materials, high-quality, well made clothing and many other types of goods, a lot of people tend to immediately think about visiting an army shop surplus outlet. And, for very good reason. Army shop outlets truly are one of the best options available to you if you’re looking to acquire very high-quality, well-made goods when you’re on a tight budget.
Of course, it very well might be that you’re experiencing some level of difficulty in trying to locate a good army shop outlet. When and if someone finally does locate one of the better army shop military surplus outlets that are out there, however, their first visit can be a true revelation. Many people, upon their first visit to such an army shop, are stunned to see the wide array of high quality merchandise available at such incredibly low prices. Practically anything that the army or military in general issues to its own personnel, at one time or another, eventually makes its way into an army shop outlet as surplus goods. Such items might include military issue clothing, military grade tools, gear and other hardware, military vehicles, and often even some military weapons.
Because these items have fallen into the category of being surplus to current military requirements, the cost that these quality goods become available for at such army shop outlets is usually quite low. It’s very possible to find such army surplus items at these shops at savings of anywhere from 10% to 80% less than items of similar quality available at regular retails outlets. Sometimes the savings can be even higher!
It’s also important to remember that much of the goods sold through army shop outlets isn’t actually used merchandise. This is a common misconception among members of the public. Many people, it seems, appear to believe that a lot of the military surplus products available through such army shop outlets are items which have been used extensively by the military and are being sold off to the public once they’ve become worn out or have otherwise lived-out their usefulness. This, very often, just isn’t the case.
Mostly, military surplus items find their way into the army shop outlets because they are over-stock items of some sort (the military ordered, or were delivered, more than they needed) Or, the items had been warehoused and waiting for use by the military, but the military upgraded to newer, updated equipment before the items were able to be put to use. In short, while you can find very high quality used gear at these army shop surplus stores, much of it is actually brand new — never used.
If you’re interested in possibly buying some of the larger sized surplus items from these army shop outlets — items like vehicles and weapons — then you’ll most likely not be able to locate these items easily through any traditional means that people normally use to locate more conventional products. Good luck, for instance, attempting to locate such items by browsing the classified sections in your local newspapers!
If you are truly interested in acquiring such items, one of your best bets is to make direct contact with the nearest military bases in your area and try to build a friendly relationship with the personnel on those sites. Once you become familiar and friendly with some of the military personnel, a quick phone call now and then can alert you to any equipment they have that may about to be designated as surplus items. Some military installations even run a service that you can sign-up for where they’ll e-mail or mail out notices if they’re having upcoming surplus item sales or auctions.
Very often, the larger military surplus items are not available through army shop outlets. Instead, these types of items are often made available through specially held public surplus auctions only. And, you’ll need a method for determining exactly when and where these auctions are to be held. You can, of course, inquire at a nearby military base and see if they run any sort of notification service for upcoming auctions. But, not all military bases do.
There are other, easier methods, however, for getting ahead of the game, locating such bargains, and finding out exactly where and when these public surplus auctions are going to be held — methods that don’t require you to go to the trouble and put forth the prolonged efforts involved in attempting to build personal relationships with military personnel. There are government and military surplus auction locating services that, quite frankly, are worth their weight in gold. These services, such as the one located at this link, or the service available here, provide a highly valuable service that will give you the upper edge in locating these types of auctions and sales, while taking all of the troublesome footwork out of the equation for you.
With regards to purchasing the more traditional, smaller kinds of military surplus items, a good army shop outlet is really your best choice. And, most areas usually have at least one or two such decent army shop outlet surplus stores. A quick check of your local yellow pages, or an on-line search should be able to inform you of the location of these shops. Along with that, of course, there are now on-line army shop outlets on the internet that will allow you to browse or search for the items you’re interested in and ship those items nationwide or even worldwide. A great live, up-the-minute, listing of surplus vehicles available at auction, for instance, is maintained on this very website — you can view it by clicking here. We also have the same listings for general military surplus — available here. And, non-military, no-reserve surplus items — available here.
But, there’s little doubt that actually visiting a quality army shop outlet for military surplus goods in your area is likely to provide you with your best experience. Online shopping is great and very convenient at times, but, when it comes to such military surplus items, you’re likely to want to, and find great advantage in, actually being able to handle the merchandise and see and inspect it with your own eyes before making a purchase. When in the market for things like surplus camping equipment, military clothing and various types of military furniture, it’s always a good idea to inspect the items before purchase — something that you can’t really do if you buy via the online route.