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So, you’ve started your own home business or small business — or, at least, you’ve finally made the decision to do so — and now you find yourself in need of all the required supplies. Of course, if you’re just starting out, your budget is quite likely to be somewhat on the lean side, and the cost of acquiring the necessary supplies to get your new small business off on the right foot can be somewhat costly. Luckily, there are methods for obtaining very good quality business supplies for much less than you’d regularly expect to pay — and, I do mean MUCH less! Acquiring such supplies via government surplus is one of the top options available to you.
Acquiring much needed business supplies from government surplus sources has long been a well established means of outfitting a small or home business with exceptional quality items while still managing to save a significant amount of money and, thus, going a long way in helping to keep your business’s budget from creeping into the red.
Practically anything your business might need in order to operate efficiently is regularly sold off by the government through surplus channels — if your business needs it, chances are that some government surplus outlet has it up for sale right now, or soon will. And, practically all of it is sold at or below cost, or below wholesale – sometimes significantly so. Sometimes they even practically give it away.
Whenever some government agency, either at the municipal, state, or federal level finds itself with extra items, supplies or equipment that they no longer require these items will sometimes be destroyed in some fairly rare circumstances, shipped to another government agency that may have use for the items, or, very often, sold off to non-government individuals or entities through public or private sales, or through public or private auctions.
The particular government agency offering surplus goods for sale will utilize different means and methods for selling off these goods. They may hold a public auction which members of the public may attend and place bids on the various items for sale. But, today, more and more, many government branches and departments are turning to on-line, electronic means for conducting such sales — even when their wish is to auction such items to the highest bidder. Some governmental organizations have even been known to use eBay in order to sell their wares. However, most now regularly utilize dedicated, government run services and electronic, on-line, central sales outlets.
The majority of state governments now employ the use of some sort of central auction and/or sales website that members of the public may visit, browse the items currently up for grabsm and place bids on the items they’re interested in. Many municipal governments are now doing the same sort of thing as well. However, with federal government, there is still no such entirely comprehensive, all-in-one, central on-line service maintained by any one central branch. Instead, there are a number of governmental departments responsible for the selling off of surplus goods and items from various areas of government.
The General Services Administration, or GSA, is tasked with getting rid of the bulk of items and property that a number of areas of government find themselves no longer in need of. But, the Defense Department takes care of their own surplus sales and does not use the services of the GSA in most cases. Along with that, various federal level law enforcement agencies also run their own surplus auctions, sales and property disposal.
The following information is already readily available on SurplusBusiness.Com, but we’ll include it here briefly again for easy access. Here’s a quick run-down of some government surplus related Internet sites that you’ll most certainly find exceedingly useful in helping you to save money while procuring the supplies your business requires to operate effectively and efficiently:
Govsales.Gov – This is the official on-line Federal Asset Sales Portal for the United States Federal Government. Operated by the General Services Administration, it contains a comprehensive, searchable and browseable, listing of most surplus items currently available for sale, or at auction, from a vast array of different federal government departments and sources. At any given time you’re likely to find just about anything from soup to nuts being offered up for sale from the federal government on this site — from fully functional helicopters, to pens and pencils. From high-tech medical equipment, to coffee-makers and work boots.
Gov-Auctions.Org – An exhaustive, all-in-one on-line resource comprising the largest single source of all state-level, and federal, US government surplus auctions including government surplus pre-owned and seized cars, trucks, SUVs, boats, real-estate and a wide array of personal property items — all at up to 95% off book-value on many of the individual items being offered.
DispositionServices.Dla.Mil – Home page for the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services. This website makes available surplus items, goods and property obtained from the various branches of the U.S. military. Don’t skip over this valuable resource if you’re not interested in strictly military-style items, however. The military uses a great deal of items that aren’t immediately associated with being strictly military items, and any excess goods that have been owned by any branch of the military and is now available for surplus sale is offered on this site. It is not at all uncommon to find incredible deals on things like office supplies, kitchen supplies, furniture, and much else on this site — along, of course, with all of the standard military surplus fare.
GovernmentAuctions.Org – An incredible and valuable private government auctions listing service. This powerful resource keeps track of all upcoming federal, state an local government surplus auctions and keeps you informed, ahead of time, on all such events that will be taking place in your area, and elsewhere. If you’re thinking of making money by acquiring surplus goods and flipping them for a profit, this resource is absolutely indispensable for providing you with the upper edge you’ll need to maximize your chances of success — get a leg up on the competition by being kept informed of the most obscure of government sales in order to take advantage of the very lowest of surplus prices.
U.S. Marshals Service Assets Forfeiture Service – Home page for information regarding the sales of seized and forfeited property available through the U.S. Marshall’s Service. This Internet site contains listings of currently available seized and forfeited real estate, vehicles and other property that the U.S. Marshall’s Service has available for public auction.
Insider Wholesale & Surplus Products – Government agencies aren’t the only places available to you for acquiring goods, items and property at incredible, far-below wholesale surplus prices. There is a wealth of commercial retail and private sources that you should be informed regarding. This site contains all of the information you’ll need to learn about such avenues and take advantages of the incredible deals available through them.
United States Treasury Real Property Auctions – This website is operated by the U.S. Treasury Department and lists auctions of seized Real Property currently for sale throughout the country. Listings regularly include all manner of both residential and commercial buildings, land and property — including single and multi-family dwellings, commercial warehouse buildings, commercial retail properties, even fully operating businesses that you can purchase and take over.
IRS Real and Personal Property Sales – This website, operated by the United States Internal Revenue Agency lists all items currently up for sale or auction to the public that have been seized due to tax defaults. Items regularly offered include just about anything you can think of — from clothing, to jewelry, to automobiles, office equipment, furniture, artwork, real estate, etc., etc., Anything that has value and has been seized by the IRS can be found offered for sale to the public on this website.
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.
The most common type of auction — surplus auction or otherwise — is known as a ‘traditional’ or sometimes called an ‘English’ auction. The traditional, or English auction, is what most people tend to think of when they hear the word ‘auction’. Practically everyone is familiar with this style of auction — in a traditional auction, the auction for an item begins at a low price and bidders consecutively bid each other up, raising the bid with each call. The auction ends when nobody is willing to enter a bid higher than the last bid given, and the person who bid that last bid wins the item that’s up for grabs.
A somewhat new and, as of yet, still fairly uncommon, but rapidly growing in popularity, auction type is the ‘unique bid auction.’ Most people are still quite unfamiliar with unique bid auctions. In fact, if you were to ask the average person what a unique bid auction is, it’s very likely they’d have no idea — it’s very likely they’d never have even heard the term before.
Regardless or this, the unique bid auction format, over the last little while, has been gaining in popularity among auctioneers — especially, it seems, when it comes to online electronic auction services.
The goal of bidding in a unique bid auction is to make your bid unique among all the bids placed by all bidders, and have your entirely unique bid also be the lowest of all unique bids placed. So, for example, let’s say an item is up for auction and there are a total of eleven bidders bidding on the available item. All bidders enter their bid, and when all bidders have entered a bid, and the bids are revealed, it turns out that:
- 2 people bid $1.00
- 3 people bid $2.00
- 2 people bid $3.00
- 1 person bid $4.00
- 2 people bid $5.00
- 1 person bid $6.00
In the example above, two people entered a unique bid — a bid amount that nobody else entered. But, in a unique bid auction the winner is the person who placed the lowest unique bid. So, in this case, the person who entered a bid of $4.00 won the item.
As mentioned earlier, unique bid auctions are still quite rare at live auctions, but they’ve been gaining in popularity with online auction sites. The unique bid auction format is still quite new, however, and, as such, many people are still quite unfamiliar with it. And, in order to be consistently successful when taking part in unique bid auctions, a solid bidding strategy can be of tremendous advantage — perhaps being more important than in any other style of auction. Obviously, this can be problematic for the great many people unfamiliar with unique bid auctions. If you’re not familiar with the unique bid auction format, you’re not going to be familiar with effective unique bid auction strategy.
So, here are just a few unique bid auction strategy tips you can use to help improve your results when taking part in a unique bid auction:
Unique Bid Auction Strategy Tip #1
Keep in mind that you’re not really bidding in relation to the retail, or any other, price of the item. — at least not to nearly the degree you would be in other auction methods. This is one of the aspects so unique to the unique bid auction format. You’re really just bidding against the other participant’s bids. At least, that should be the primary focus of your unique bid auction strategy. All you want to get is the lowest bid placed that is also a unique bid. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter that you may be bidding on an item that has a regular retail value of, say, $1,000.00. If you bid just $2.00 for the item and it turns out that nobody else bid $2.00, and nobody else entered a lower unique bid, you win the auction.
If you think about this a bit you should be able to see how strategy becomes important in a unique bid auction. If you’re bidding, say, on that $1,000.00 item, you can enter a bid for $1.00 and maybe win the item at an incredible bargain, right? Well… probably not. Why? Because everybody else can do the same which will render your bid not unique and the one guy that bid, let’s say, $100.00 will actually win the auction — as long as his bid was the lowest unique bid entered. And, everybody wants to get the auction at the lowest possible price, right? So, what is the low bid you should enter on that auction? $2.00? $3.00? Other people, also trying to get the lowest bid can also enter such ridiculously low amounts for that $1,000.00 item. So, the lower the bid, the more likely there are to be others who also bid that amount, and thus, the less likely you are to post a unique bid and win the auction at that price. Remember, in order to win your bid must be the lowest bid that is also unique — an amount that nobody else has bid. So, the higher you bid, the more likely it is your bid will be unique, but the higher the likelihood that your bid wont be the lowest unique bid. So, it’s all about pinpointing that perfect range — low enough that you maximize your chances of getting the low bid, but not so low that you minimize your chances of getting a unique bid.
It’s very important to keep in mind, however, that even though I said earlier that you’re not really bidding in relation to the retail price of the item on auction, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be cognizant of the item’s worth. It’s still quite important that you know the item you’re bidding on, and know its value. Without knowing the item’s worth it will be easy for you to overbid for the item.
The attraction behind such unique bid auctions is the possibility of actually acquiring highly valuable items for exceedingly little money — like, say, a brand new $1,500.00 TV for perhaps just a few dollars. If you overbid for an item, it entirely defeats the purpose of bidding in unique bid auctions.
Unique Bid Auction Strategy Tip #2
Do not hesitate with your bid. People that are used to bidding in traditional auctions are used to waiting until the auction is nearing the final bid before bidding. This can be a useful strategy in a traditional auction, but it’s of no benefit in a unique bid auction, and can actually diminish your chances of winning the auction.
The reason for this is because it is fairly common in a unique bid auction that nobody actually ends up entering an entirely unique bid — every amount bid was actually entered by at least two or more people. When this happens, it is standard practice in a unique bid auction to give the auction to the person who entered the lowest bid, that had the fewest amount of bids at that price, and was also the person who entered that bid first among all bidders who bid that particular amount. So, try to get your bid in at the earliest possible time.
Unique Bid Auction Strategy Tip #3
Make multiple bids. Virtually all online unique bid auction sites use a system allowing a single person to enter multiple bids on a single auction. One strategy sometimes employed is for a bidder to always enter something very close to the lowest possible bid amount, plus a bid or two, in intervals, in their calculated highest win-probability range. This is referred to as entering a ‘bid spread.’
Live auctions, like government and military surplus auctions, offer both an enjoyable and an exciting opportunity for people from all walks of life. All manner of various sorts of items are able to be obtained from live auctions that are going on all over the country all the time — and, very often, the items available at these live auctions can be acquired for prices well less than market value. However, if you’ve never been to such an auction, or have attended only a few, you might not be entirely clear on just how to best conduct yourself in order to maximize the potential for successful bidding. You’re looking for some live auction bidding tips. So, in this article, I’ll try to cover some of the basics, and walk you through a few important do’s and don’ts.
Locating Live Auctions to Attend
The very first step you’ll need to take, of course, is actually finding exactly when and where such auctions are going to be taking place. Doing so will either require some amount of research on your part, or you can use the services of a live auction locating service in order to be informed of exactly when and where live auctions will be happening in your area. Such services (such at the one located at this link) will eliminate all of the research and leg work you’ll need to put in to discovering any upcoming auctions that are available to you.
However, if you don’t wish to take advantage of such a service, you can spend some time looking up local auction houses in your area — either in your local phone book, or on the internet — and then contacting them each individually and asking if they have any auctions coming up that are open to the general public. Sometimes, the auction houses will post information regarding upcoming live auctions to their websites. But, since dates can change, and auctions can sometimes be organized very quickly, a lot of times they wont list every auction on the website, and only an actual phone call to the auction house itself, or a visit there, will assure you of the most up to date and complete information.
Along with this, you’ll want to check your local newspaper’s classified sections often and thoroughly, as notices for upcoming auctions will often be posted there. Also, make sure to check any on-line local classifieds websites for your area and make use of online resources like Craiglist.
The Various Auction Types
When you’ve discovered all of the upcoming auctions that are taking place in your area, are open to the public, and you’ve compiled them all into a list, you’ll need to learn the specific rules for the different types of auctions that you wish to attend. This, again, is another area in which the auction locating service mentioned above proves highly valuable. As, along with listing every auction scheduled to take place in your area, the services will also provide you with precise and complete details regarding the rules for each of the auctions to which it informs you. But, again, if you’re not interested in using such a service, you’ll need to contact the organizers of each of the auctions directly and inquire as to the specifics of the individual auction.
It’s common for some auctions to have limited availability and require pre-registration by a certain date, and you’ll need to register before that date if you wish to take part. Many such auctions operate on a first-come-first-serve basis. So, you’ll want to make sure you get that information and register as early as possible in order to secure yourself admittance.
Some auctions will require an entrance fee. This is usually a relatively small amount, and is usually deductible against any successful bid you place. So, let’s say the entrance fee is $50.00, and you end up winning a bid for an item with a bid of $100.00, the auction house will simply keep your $50.00 entrance fee and require from you just another $50.00 when it comes time to pay for the items you won. They do this because space usually is limited and they want to make sure they fill the limited space with people who are serious about bidding.
Some auctions may require you to enter a larger, entirely refundable deposit as well. This works the same as the deposit described above, except that even if you don’t bid on anything, the money is returned to you at the end of the auction. This is done as a safety measure to guard against people who might obtain the winning bid on an item and, for whatever reason, decide not to pay for it when it comes time to collect the item. Some auctions may require you to provide your credit card information for this purpose, while others may require a cash deposit.
Along with this you may encounter different styles of auctions, and you’ll certainly want to know ahead of time which style the auction you’re attending will be conducted in. The different styles are:
- A traditional, or sometimes called an “English” auction. This is the type of auction that most people think about when they hear the word “auction”. It’s the traditional type, where bids start at a low price and bidders ‘bid each other up’ until people stop bidding. The person with the last and highest bid wins the auction.
- A Dutch Auction. This is sort of the reverse of an English auction. In a Dutch auction the price for an item starts high and gradually lowers over time until someone places a bid. The first person to place a bid wins the item.
- A ‘closed bid’ or a ‘silent auction’. In this type of auction bidders enter the price they’re willing to pay for an item in secret, usually by placing their written bid in a sealed envelope and submitting it. Nobody at the auction knows what anyone else’s bid amount is. After a certain time, the auction stops accepting bids, all envelopes are opened, and whoever submitted the highest price wins the item.
These are the three most common styles of auction you’re likely to encounter. There’s also what’s known as an ‘absolute auction’, which is similar to a closed bid or silent auction, but without any minimum, or reserve, price being set on items.
Live Auction Bidding Tips — Bidding!
One thing you should keep in mind is that, according to the laws in most places, once the auctioneer’s gavel falls, the item is yours. It doesn’t matter if money has exchanged hands or not. When you place a bid and the auctioneer informs you that yours is the winning bid and stops the auction, as far as the law is concerned, you’ve now entered into a legally binding contract with the auctioneer. You now legally owe him the money you agreed to pay, and he now legally owes you the item he agreed to sell you at that price. So, make sure you only ever place a bid if you’re completely willing to pay that amount for that item. Once the auction for an item stops, if you had last bid, then you’re going to have to fork over the money.
The bidding can be conducted very quickly, and it can be confusing for inexperienced attendees. Auctioneers have the right to reject your bid if you seem confused or unsure, and if you’re slow, they wont wait around for you. For this reason it’s advisable that you might want to think about trying to locate a couple of auctions that don’t require non-refundable deposits and where space isn’t very limited, and attend one or two before you even try placing bids, just to get a feel for how things transpire, and for what you can expect when actually bidding.
Depending on exactly what style of auction it is, and a number of other factors, it can be surprisingly easy for an inexperienced auction attendee to overbid. If you don’t have a lot of experience, the process can be somewhat fast paced and confusing, and it’s not difficult at all to get completely caught up in the excitement of it all. Believe it or not, an auction can be very exciting! There may be times when an inexperienced person enters into a competitive mode — it becomes like a game — a competition, and the desire to just win an auction becomes overwhelming. When this happens there is a real danger that you can overpay for an item. It feels good to win, but if you end up paying more for some item than you could have gotten it for had you bought it retail, that feeling wont last for too long after you leave the auction house.
The surest way of avoiding this is to make sure that you do your homework to the best of your ability. A lot of auctions will publish a list of all of the items that will be made available at the upcoming auction. Obtain that list if you can, as far in advance as possible, learn as much as you can about each item you think you might be interested in bidding on, and do some research into what the items would be worth to you and what the highest you’re willing to bid on the item would realistically be. In a good number of cases the auction house might even set a date before the day of the auction wherein interested parties can view the items that will be made available at the upcoming auction. Take advantage of this if it’s offered and take careful note of the condition of the items. Do as much good research as you can into the real value of the items. Use this information to determine a maximum bid for yourself and stick to it.
Above all, just use a little wisdom and common sense and you’ll likely do just fine and have a lot of fun.
Do you have any of your own live auction bidding tips? If you do please consider sharing them in the comment box below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!