Auctioning surplus helps raise funds

Throughout the year, the warehouse for Saddleback College in The Village has received unwanted and unused property items from all over campus. These surplus items will go to auction at the warehouse Nov. 1 at 10 a.m.

Pre-registration will begin at 9 a.m. and is mandatory for anyone wishing to bid at the auction.

Items are going to be cataloged and a list will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval. Items range from computers, monitors and metal file cabinets to gym equipment, microscopes, tripods and even the small Cushman carts the grounds maintenance crews use.

Lead warehouse worker Erik Austin remembers back to a couple of years ago when two large galvanized “body boxes,” used by the anatomy class, came in to be auctioned off.

“The boxes weren’t small. They looked like huge oversized caskets, and to think what they were used for was spooky,” Austin said. “I think the guy that bought them used them as a prop at a Halloween party.”

A preview of the items to be auctioned will be held Oct. 31 from noon to 3 p.m. Items must be picked up and paid for within three days of the auction. According to warehouse staff, the winning bids range from $5 to $3000.

Bid amounts are especially high when there is a vehicle placed into the auction. Last year, a Toyota stake truck bed sold for just under $3000, according to central services specialist Misael Banderas. Average bids are usually within $75 and $100.

Warehouse personnel, along with auction staff, separate the property to be sold into lots and shrink-wrap them where possible to pallets. Computers, televisions and small items are usually sold by the pallet. A typical lot might have 25 computer CPU’s or 50 keyboards. Larger, more unique, items are sold individually.

Austin explains that lost and found items are auctioned off as well, and include things such as strollers, clothing, sunglasses, and occasionally a camera.

Austin and Banderas note that it’s mostly the same people every year that come to haul away Saddleback’s surplus. They come the day before to check out what is available, and are seen calling in serial and model numbers from the parking lot where everything is displayed.

“Some of the guys that show up to buy really know what some of this stuff is,” Austin said. “It seems they already have it sold before they buy it at the auction.”

Everyone looks forward to seeing a man known as “the hippie” every year at the auction. It is not known what he does with what he buys, but has been coming to the sale every year for the 18 years that the auction has been done.

“He always comes barefoot, wears jeans and a Hawaiian shirt,” Austin said. “He must be about 60 [years old] now, and has long hair, a surfer type for sure. I heard that he lives in San Diego, and this is all he does.”

The surplus that is not sold will remain in the parking lot for a short time, and will then be taken to the dump.

“When it comes in new, we check it in,” Austin said. “It’s interesting to see the things five years later on the way out.”

The California Education Code provides for property to be laterally transferred to other non-profit schools at no cost. A few years ago, Junipero Serra High School was given Saddleback’s gym equipment that was to have been auctioned off.

“Some of the weirdest things come from the science and math departments,” Austin said. “Some of it you can’t tell what it is and is just marked ‘apparatus.'”

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