How You Can Score Random Cheap Stuff On GovDeals

When government agencies need to get rid of things, they auction them off.

That’s what makes government auction sites, like, a great place to find truly unique finds at great value.

GovDeals lets you search thousands of listings in just about every category, from heavy equipment and real estate to fine art and jewelry.

(We’re not kidding. You can buy an Ambulance or a Massive Ruby, all at GovDeals.)

What is GovDeals?

Think of GovDeals like eBay but for governments.

Once an item falls out of service, public organizations — from state colleges to law enforcement — auction it off to the public.

At the time, many agencies placed advertisements in the local newspaper when they wanted to sell old equipment or seize property.

GovDeals, along with a handful of other websites, allow governments to list items for online auctions instead, where they can reach a wider audience. All the money generated by the sale is donated to the agency.

You can find just about anything on GovDeals including exercise equipment, school projectors, laptops, food storage items, kitchen equipment, trucks, trading cards, motorhomes, Ralph Lauren wallets and hunting knives.

GovDeals has generated more than $2.5 billion in sales since its inception more than 20 years ago, according to the company’s website.

How does GovDeals work?

Like eBay, you can bid on items listed on GovDeals and there may be a reserve, even if the starting bid is really low. The user with the highest bid at the end of the auction gets the item if the reserve has been reached. You will need to create an account to get started.

You almost always have to pick up the item in person. Rarely, an agency will ship the item to you for a fee.

You can search for items by location or by product type. Each listing contains item information, including payment and pickup instructions. Read these details carefully.

Some sellers require you to pay them directly, for example, while others allow you to pay through GovDeals’ online platform.

13 Crazy, Affordable, Weird Things We Found on GovDeals

It’s hard to fully appreciate the randomness of GovDeals until you start scrolling through lists.

Once started, it’s hard to stop.

Wait, are they really selling this?

Here are 13 weird things we found on GovDeals. Trust us, there’s a lot more to do.

1. Yamaha Baby Grand Piano – $875

  • Starting bid: $1
  • Winning bid: $875
  • Sold by: University of Kansas Lawrence, Kansas
  • Delivery available: No.

Yes, you read that right: a big baby for $875, instead of thousands. This Yamaha piano plays well and was taken apart for moving. The only downsides include a few scratches, a possibly stuck sustain pedal and a missing bench. But, as the ad says, “Upright pianos are for beginners – now is your chance to have a grand piano!”

You can browse more musical instruments and equipment here.

2. Milk Cooler — $50

  • Starting bid: $50
  • Winning bid: $50
  • Sold by: Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina
  • Delivery available: No

Need a new cooler? This Delfield 115 Volt Milk Cooler with Air Curtain is in good working order – and cost thousands of dollars new. Think of all the extra milk you can store in that thing.

If it’s equipment, you can find it on GovDeals — exercise equipment, commercial kitchen equipment, fire and police equipment, heavy equipment…

3. Seven 14k Yellow Gold Bracelets – $370

  • Starting bid: $20
  • Winning bid: $370
  • Sold by: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Unclaimed Property Division in Austin, Texas
  • Delivery available: Yes, included

Fine jewelry is a popular category on GovDeals, especially gold jewelry. This lot from the Texas Department of Unclaimed Properties includes seven 14-karat bracelets totaling 11.1 grams of gold. There are some scratches and signs of surface wear, but it sold for $370 after 30 auctions.

That’s an approximate profit of $215 just based on the price of gold after paying sales tax and fees.

There’s more where that came from. To see all jewelry deals, click here.

4. Three Fitbits — $20

  • Starting bid: $5
  • Winning bid: $20
  • Sold by: Denver City and County Government in Colorado
  • Delivery available: Yes, for an additional $20

Three unknown-state Fitbits with no warranties or warranties? If you don’t mind taking a photo in the dark, you can give it a shot. Maybe one of them even works!

GovDeals offers a range of personal electronics including AirPods, iPhones, computers, tablets, printers, radios, desk phones – you can even grab a cassette player.

5. Set of 12 Baby Birthday Bear Hats – $22.25

  • Starting bid: $10
  • Winning bid: $22.25
  • Sold by: City of Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Delivery available: No

We don’t know why the Municipal Government of Bowling Green has a dozen Birthday Beanie Babies (which sell for around $10 each) – but we’re here for it. And look, they even come in this elegant glass display case.

The collectibles category on GovDeals will raise more questions than it answers. Why is a city selling a megalodon shark tooth? How did 300 comics end up in a police evidence room? Why does an airport list sports cards?

6. Hundreds of Pounds — $5

  • Starting bid: $5
  • Winning bid: $5
  • Sold by: Berkeley County Government in South Carolina
  • Delivery available: No.

Want to fill your shelves or create a library? This lot includes 619 books, 12 CDs, 35 DVDs and a puzzle. The biggest downside? Authors, titles, and subjects aren’t listed in the post, so it’s hard to know what you’re getting.

There are a lot more than books under the educational heading. You could take home an animatron, microscope, furniture, smart board, calculators. There is also a books category with manuals, manuals and old library books.

7. 2005 Pierce Enforcer Fire Truck – $7,300

  • Starting bid: $500
  • Winning bid: $7,300
  • Sold by: Indian River County Government in Vero Beach, Florida
  • Delivery available: No

Yes, for less than $8,000 you too can own a fire truck. Obviously it’s not perfect: it has 178,201 miles on it and the pump has a leaking mechanical seal that needs servicing. But hey, if you’re looking for a fire truck…

And who isn’t, take a look at these surplus trucks.

Photo courtesy of GovDeals

8. Lots of office furniture — $1

  • Starting bid: $1
  • Winning bid: $1
  • Sold by: University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama
  • Delivery available: No

It’s crazy that all this office furniture sells for just $1 – well, technically $1.23 after taxes and fees. The set includes 25 chairs, three metal bookcases, 12 desks and office tables, three filing cabinets and a double seat.

Furniture abounds on GovDeals and there are great bargains to be had.

9. Oven – $1,325

  • Starting bid: $100
  • Winning bid: $1,325
  • Sold by: Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland
    Delivery available: No

Want to start your own pottery stampede? This oven could get you started – and it sold for thousands less than a similar new one. The seller says it is in good condition “but needs a little TLC”.

The arts and crafts section is not all kilns and pottery. It’s also stickers, bowling pins, baskets and framed artwork.

10. 2005 Ford Crown Victoria — $1,125

  • Starting bid: $300
  • Winning bid: $1,125
  • Sold by: Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office in Thibodaux, Louisiana
  • Delivery available: No

With used car prices so high, we won’t judge whether you’re bidding on this Crown Vic with a V8 engine. It may be 17 years old with 199,277 miles, but hey, it still rides. In addition, the bodywork and paintwork are in good condition. One fairly notable downside: the powertrain control module “must be replaced at some point.”

You can click hundreds of cars on GovDeals, even the classic ones.

11. Over 1,600 bricks — $50

  • Starting bid: $50
  • Winning bid: $50
  • Sold by: Ashtabula County Technical & Career Center in Jefferson, Ohio
  • Delivery available: No

Building materials aren’t cheap these days, so this bundle of 1,680 bricks is a bargain. The bricks were used as part of an educational program. They are in good condition even if they look a bit wonky. Considering the average cost of 1,000 bricks is around $350-900, you can probably ignore these superficial imperfections.

Besides cheap bricks, you can find wood and other building materials.

12. Five mini iPads — $125

  • Starting bid: $125
  • Winning bid: $125
  • Sold by: Somerset Incorporated School District in Texas
  • Delivery available: No

Who knows if those 2nd generation iPad minis with 16GB of storage actually work. But at $25 a piece, you might want to place a bid just to find out.

Check out more iPads and tablets here.

A photo of light blue cafeteria tables.
Photo courtesy of GovDeals

13. Two cafeteria tables — $20

  • Starting bid: $20
  • Winning bid: $20
  • Sold by: Santa Rosa County School District in Milton, Florida
  • Delivery available: No

Need extra seating at your next event? You can get these two high school-sized cafeteria tables in good condition for less than $25.

Other surplus government sites

GovDeals isn’t the only game in town when it comes to government auctions.

Here are some other government auction sites where you can find great deals:

Happy bargain hunting!

Rachel Christian is a Certified Personal Finance Educator and Senior Writer for The Penny Hoarder.

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