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Surplus military gear offers quite an interesting means toward profit for the aspiring small-business owner. Such items commonly available through military surplus sales are exceedingly popular among the general population. Most people have the impression that items manufactured for military use are just built better than similar items destined for general consumer trade. It’s understood, by most people, that military gear is put through much harsher wear and tear than most civilian merchandise, and, as such, it is expected to stand up to such conditions well and still provide a long and useful life-span. People believe the military is excessively demanding when it comes to the quality of manufacturing of the gear they use, and that the military is willing to spare no expense in obtaining such items.
For this reason, surplus military merchandise sort of comes pre-equipped with a fair dose of very effective sales-hype. If you don’t believe me, you could see it for yourself. Go to your nearest military surplus store and, if they have them in stock, purchase the cheapest, oldest, rattiest looking, olive-drab military field jacket they have for sale. Then, obtain the absolute most expensive consumer available sporting field jacket from the manufacturer with the best reputation for manufacturing the most rugged outdoor sporting wear. Approach friends and family, show them both jackets and ask them which one they think is built tougher, stronger, more durable and will be more likely to last the longest. Nine times out of ten, people will say the old, ratty, authentic looking military garb. I guarantee it.
Selling surplus military gear can, for this reason, offer quite an advantage over selling other types of similar items. The advantage, of course, is that you don’t need to convince buyers that your goods are of sufficient quality. If it’s authentic surplus military gear, they already ‘know’ it’s of the best quality available. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, or fashionable, but people that are at all interested in purchasing surplus military items don’t care about those kinds of things.
Along with the above mentioned advantage, surplus military goods can also be obtained at very attractive costs and then re-sold to the general public at respectable markups — that is, if you know how and where to obtain such items at source. If you’ve been considering starting your own military surplus store, the first thing I think you should do is to obtain a copy of The Ultimate Surplus Guide by clicking here. Read it from cover to cover to fully familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of finding and purchasing surplus merchandise in lots for resale at the lowest possible cost.
You’ll then need to think about things like start-up capital for acquiring stock and obtaining suitable selling space. Some other advantages of starting a military surplus store are that, for one, relatively little capital is needed for acquiring stock compared to other types of merchandise, and secondly, that your selling space doesn’t need to be in a high-rent commercial area of town, nor does your space need to look commercially attractive. People who are interested in purchasing surplus military goods don’t care about what your selling space looks like, and they’re also the type of people that are willing to drive a fair bit out of town in order to dig and pick through your available stock. So, if you can locate a somewhat run-down, but usable, warehouse, let’s say, on the outskirts of town for very little money, such a space is perfectly workable as a military surplus store.
You’ll also need to think about setting an advertising budget for your military surplus store. People need to know it’s actually there before they’ll come and shop for your military surplus items. Fortunately, this also can be relatively inexpensive compared to other industries. You don’t need to build a brand or an image as you would when dealing with other sorts of merchandise, so you don’t need to incur all of the expense that goes along with such involved and complex marketing campaigns. The military equipment is your brand and most of your image. And, exactly what goes along with that has already been established in the minds of the people who will be interested in shopping in your military surplus store. All that’s really needed is to let the people who are already interested in, and actively looking for, military surplus goods know that you exist and where you’re located. Because of this, simple and relatively inexpensive advertising methods tend to work great for a military surplus store. Taking out small ads in local newspapers and supermarket penny-savers can work excellently as a means for advertisement.
These are some of the things you’ll really need to think about in discovering how to start a military surplus store. Of course, I can’t lay it all out, step-by-step, for you here — doing so would, of course, require pages, upon pages, upon pages. So, if you really want to dig deeper into knowing exactly how to start a military surplus store and start in on building a profitable military surplus business for yourself, like I said earlier, I suggest you get yourself a copy of The Ultimate Surplus Guide — I’m sure you’ll find that publication will tell you absolutely everything you’ll need to know to begin doing business in surplus merchandise.
It appears there is a rather widespread misunderstanding these days that people who might hold an interest in various outdoor activities, live action military style gamers and the recently expanding population of “Preppers” and survivalists, need to acquire their gear brand new at high-priced sporting goods outlets. Of course it’s true that using brand new, top name-brand gear from the most prestigious manufacturers is desirable. But, is the added cost that comes with the prestige of using gear that sports manufacturing labels from highly regarded commercial suppliers really worth it? Especially when you consider that in this particular industry, a rather unique option is available which can provide the consumer with exceedingly high quality used goods at a much reduced cost.
I’m speaking, of course, about military issue surplus items and equipment. And, the items they offer as surplus goods should be well considered by preppers and sportsmen looking to add to their list of gear — especially if money currently happens to be tight. Military organizations, after all, really are expertly experienced ‘preppers’ themselves. Thus, the equipment they use for their own purposes are of the highest quality available. And, when those items become marked for surplus, they are often made available to the public at bargain prices.
Western military organizations specifically require the equipment they use to be of the most rugged stock available. In an active combat scenario, which military orgs must prepare for, if equipment fails then lives get lost. The stakes are exceedingly high. And so, very little expense is often spared when it comes to building their equipment tough. Military organizations spend an exceptional amount of money, expertise, effort and man-hours in making sure the items they equip their personnel with can endure the utmost abuse, harshest of conditions, and overuse. They make sure the equipment is simple to use or operate, is as unencumbersome as is possible, and is highly efficient at fulfilling the need it is required to fulfill. Military goods are engineered and designed to work, and to work well for a very long time.
Along with this, of course, is the added benefit that exactly this type of gear, when made available at surplus to the public, is almost always available at exceedingly low cost when compared to the same type of new commercial gear.
But, why should such well made gear be made available for such little comparative cost? There’s basically two reasons for this: The first is that the military is a volume buyer, and so they usually originally obtain their equipment through contract buys at the lower end of wholesale cost. Whereas a sporting goods store might be able to purchase an inventory of, say, camo rain ponchos at a wholesale cost of, say, $35.00 per poncho, the military, because of the volume discounts they enjoy from the manufacturer, might be able to obtain rain ponchos of equal, or even better, quality at a wholesale cost of just $15.00 per item. Now, of course, the commercial supplier will mark-up the new item by a certain percentage — usually 50% is the absolute minimal markup commercial retailers like to aim for. So, your price for the new item from the sporting goods store is a total of $52.50 at the lowest. Whereas, the military obtained their ponchos for a much lower price and does not mark-up their product. Instead of paying $50.00 or more, you’re much more likely to obtain these military surplus ponchos at a price closer to $15.00, or even much less.
The second reason is that the military are not retailers, nor distributors. They’re not in the business of selling off goods. They’re not in the business of making money in such a manner. Their incentive in selling off military surplus items to the public doesn’t lie in turning a profit for themselves. Their incentive merely lies in getting rid of excess items and freeing storage space, and associated costs, in order to make way for their new incoming equipment. The incentive, therefore, on the part of the military, to go after the highest possible price they can get for their surplus goods isn’t the same as it is for commercial dealers.
The military has their tax-payer funded budget that’s buying them new equipment — whether they turn a profit or not, or how much money they earn from the sales of their excess inventory — they’re still going to get their new gear, and they need to make room for it. So, their incentive is to get rid of stuff quickly, with the least amount of handling on the part of the military organization as is possible. And, the way to do that, of course, is to sell it off cheap.
In Canada, the organization responsible for overseeing the disposal of all Canadian military assets is the Department of Directorate Disposal, Sales, Artefacts and Loans, commonly refereed to as, simply, the DDSAL. The DDSAL is charged with the responsibility of offloading, through a number of means, all surplus items and most all other Canadian military assets that have fallen into some state of disuse.
This doesn’t just mean that the DDSAL only handles surplus items via Canadian military sales. In fact, they do much more. If the Canadian military holds any sort of tangible asset or item that they wish to get rid of, it is the DDSAL which oversees the entire process. The DDSAL will assess the particular item (or items) which have been marked for disposal, calculate the best mode of disposal for those items, and oversee the process of their disposal. Depending on the particular items in question, this may mean destruction of the items, donations of the items to various individuals, entities or organizations, or sales of items through private or public means.
The DDSAL works on behalf of the Canadian Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, otherwise known as the DND/CAF and is charged with the responsibility of managing the disposal of military goods and items, creating the policy which directs such actions, and creating the official documentation which governs those actions and processes.
When surplus Canadian military vehicles fall into a state where the DND/CAF decides that they are no longer of use in the service of the Canadian military, the DDSAL will asses the vehicles and determine the best course of action for their disposal. Depending on a number of specifics, this might mean the destruction of such military vehicles, their donation, or, quite often, they will be put up for sale, usually via a surplus auction open to the general public.
When Canadian military vehicles, and other surplus military items, are marked to be put up for public surplus auction, the DDSAL will use the services of the Government of Canada Surplus service — commonly known as GCSurplus. This is the Canadian governmental organization that is charged with conducting the sales of most surplus crown assets.
GCSurplus currently maintains a total of ten offices and eight warehouses which are located throughout Canada. Most of the sales open to the public, which GCSurplus conducts, are now being executed through the GCSUrplus website located at GCSurplus.Ca. Members of the general public are able to bid on items made available through that website — items which include surplus Canadian military vehicles for sale — but pre-registration is required before a person may enter a bid. There is no cost to register with GCSurplus in order to bid on surplus items that become available, but a registrant will be required to have a valid credit card on file with GCSurplus before their registration will be approved.
At the time of this writing, the GCsurplus website is currently listing a total of 105 government surplus vehicles up for auction. Only a small portion of these, however, are actually Canadian military surplus vehicle auctions. The bulk of government surplus vehicle auctions handled through the GCSurplus website are crown asset surplus vehicles sourced through a variety of non-military governmental agencies. So, if using that service to search for Canadian military vehicles for sale, some searching through the listings will be required.
If you’re searching for surplus Canadian military vehicles for sale, you might also want to consult our live surplus vehicle auction listings located at this link, as surplus Canadian military vehicles do appear there from time to time.
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.
After a whopping 75 years of doing business, the Tampa Army Navy Surplus Market that has occupied 1312 N. Tampa St. in downtown Tampa, Florida announced some time ago that it was finally shutting its doors and closing up shop for good. The current owner, Nick Potamitis has said that it was finally time for him to close up the place and retire while he still had some healthy years ahead of him to enjoy his days catching fish.
Upon the announcement of the impending closure of the 75 year old Tampa surplus store, management let it be known that a “going out of business” sale would commence immediately. The problem is that, six months later, that “going out business sale” is still going on, and the Tampa surplus store is still not out of business. And, it turns out, that’s against the law.
Florida regulations actually require business owners to obtain a permit in order to even hold a “going out of business sale” — although, that is, it seems, something that business owners rarely apply for, and the regulation is rarely enforced. Along with the need to obtain a permit, there is also a Florida law which limits the maximum duration of any such going out of business sale to running for a span of no greater than a maximum of sixty days. The Tampa Army Navy Surplus Market, however, was still going strong almost six months after their first going out of business sale signs went up.
The store’s owner has said that he can not close the store until he sells off his remaining inventory, and almost six months in, that just hasn’t happened yet. Florida regulations also prohibit a store from acquiring new stock once a going out of business sale has been announced. However, since the beginning of the sale, the shelves at the Tampa surplus store do not appear to be becoming any more sparsely stocked. Mr. Potamitis, the store’s owner, has said that he has not taken any new shipments or acquired any new merchandise since the beginning of the sale — he’s simply re-stocking from excess stock which has been stored on-site in the back room.
It’s clear that the Tampa Army Navy Surplus Market is in violation of at least the Florida regulation that limits the maximum amount of time that a business may run a going out business sale, but it’s unclear as to whether or not the owner will face any actual punitive legal action. Officials have said that such actions tend to not generate very many complaints from the public and, as such, they are not strictly enforced, as it’s believed that resources can be better applied to other problems that people do seem to care about.
Nevertheless, this story highlights the importance of business owners being diligent in making sure their business practices fully comply with any and all legal regulations they may be subject to. It’s safe to assume that most business owners would likely be quite unaware that the regulations which the Tampa based surplus store has found itself up against even exist. If those regulations had have been regulations that are strictly enforced, or if officials had decided to enforce them in this case, the owners of the 75 year old Tampa Army Navy Surplus Market could have found themselves in some hot water.
You can view an ABC Action News report from a local ABC affiliate WFTS-TV regarding the issues surrounding the Tampa Army Navy Surplus Market’s extended going out of business sale in the video below: