Local governments find bargains, unload what they don't need on auction Web site

PERKINS TWP. Looking for a used 1997 Demag Crane with hydraulic telescoping boom and 300-ton capacit
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Looking for a used 1997 Demag Crane with hydraulic telescoping boom and 300-ton capacity?

Keep looking, unless you're the guy who shelled out $930,000 to buy it at govdeals.com, a decade-old Web site that has breathed new life into the world of auctions for public entities looking to sell used or confiscated equipment.

The Web site, owned by Liquidity Services of Alabama, has seen explosive growth in the past decade as more public employees have become aware of its services, said Terry Bazzoon, marketing director at govdeals.com.

The site is like an eBay of sorts, only the equipment sellers are government officials looking to shed anything that has become obsolete, short of the politicians themselves.

"It runs the gamut," Bazzoon said. "We sell everything from police vehicles to literally anything you can imagine. Anything a government would have and retire on some basis can be sold on our site."

Anyone may buy something on the site through a bidding process that lasts about 15 days for each item. The government entity that sells the equipment keeps the profit, aside from a 7.5 percent commission that's paid to govdeals.com.

Locally, nine public entities are clients of govdeals.com, but there are 206 statewide and 2,250 nationally. They can be as big as the state of California and as small as Catawba Island Township.

"Ohio was one of our earliest adopters," Bazzoon said. "We've had quite a few clients come on board very quickly."

Among the local govdeals.com users are Erie County Commissioners, who have seen colossal returns on surplus items sold on the Web site since the county became a client in 2005.

When Erie County auctioned off its surplus items in 2004 at a one-day auction at the county fairgrounds -- the old surplus-sales method -- the county pulled in a meager $15,000, said Erie County purchasing coordinator Anne Summers. The year before, the county pulled in about $41,000 at the local auction.

Then came govdeals.com.

Its first year using the Web site, Erie County pulled in a staggering $204,072 on surplus items sold at govdeals.com, everything from office equipment to used vehicles. In 2006, the county made $91,256 from the online auction, and in 2007 it raked in $161,046.

The only caveat: Buyers are required to pick up an item or pay to have it shipped, Summers said.

"It's as is, where is," she said. "It's just about matching the right person with the right merchandise. Our junk is somebody else's treasure."

Moreover, Erie County officials have eliminated the local auction since joining govdeals.com, cutting down on labor costs and storage.

The site itself only continues to grow. In 2002, the Web site channeled 211 items from Ohio sellers to buyers nationwide, who paid about $310,000 for the items. Last year, 7,254 pieces of equipment were sold by Ohio agencies for about $5.74 million.

Local agencies using govdeals.com

City of Bellevue

Erie County Commissioners

Erie MetroParks

Huron County Board of MRDD

Huron County Commissioners

City of Port Clinton

Ottawa County Commissioners

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