How You Can Score Random, Cheap Stuff on GovDeals


When government agencies need to get rid of stuff, they put it up for auction.

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

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 from GovDeals.)

What Is GovDeals?

Think of GovDeals like eBay but for governments.

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

Back in the day, many agencies placed ads in the local newspaper when they wanted to sell off old equipment or seized property.

GovDeals, along with a handful of other websites, lets governments list items for auction online instead, where they can reach a bigger audience. All of the money generated by the sale is returned 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, RVs, Ralph Lauren wallets and hunting knives.

GovDeals has generated over $2.5 billion in sales since it was founded 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 when the auction ends gets the item if the reserve has been met. You’ll need to create an account to get started.

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

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

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

13 Crazy Affordable and Weird Things We Found On GovDeals

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

Once you start, it’s hard to stop.

Wait, they’re really selling that?

Here are 13 strange things we found on GovDeals. Trust us, there’s plenty more to go around.

1. Yamaha Baby Grand Piano — $875

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

Yes, you read that right: A baby grand for $875, instead of thousands. This Yamaha piano plays well and has been disassembled in preparation for a move. The only drawbacks include some scratches, a possibly stuck sustain pedal and a missing bench. But, as the ad says, “Upright pianos are for rookies — now’s your shot at a baby grand!”

You can browse more instruments and musical 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 115-volt Delfield milk cooler with an air curtain is in good working condition — and cost thousands 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 14k bracelets totaling 11.1 grams of gold. There’s some scratches and signs of surface wear, but it sold for $370 after 30 bids.

That’s a rough profit of $215 just based on the price of gold after you pay sales tax and fees.

There’s more where that came from. To see all the 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 Fitbits of unknown condition with no warranties or guarantees? If you don’t mind taking a shot in the dark, you can try your luck. Maybe one of them even works!

GovDeals offers an array of personal electronics, including AirPods, iPhones, computers, tablets, printers, radios, desk phones — you can even pick up a cassette player.

5. Set of 12 Birthday Bear Beanie Babies — $22.25

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

We’re not sure why Bowling Green’s city government has a dozen birthday Beanie Babies (which sell for about $10 each) — but we’re here for it. And look, they even come in this stylish 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 comic books end up in a police evidence room? Why is an airport listing sports cards?

6. Hundreds of Books — $5

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

Want to fill up your bookshelves or start a library? This lot includes 619 books, 12 CDs, 35 DVDs and one puzzle. Biggest drawback? Authors, titles and subject matters aren’t listed in the post, so it’s hard to know what you’re getting.

There’s a lot more than books under the educational heading. You could take home an animatron, microscope, furniture, a smartboard, calculators. There’s also a book category with textbooks, 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 leaky mechanical seal that needs to be overhauled. But hey, if you’re in the market for a fire truck …

And who isn’t, check out these surplus trucks.

A photo of numerous old office chairs.
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 sold for just $1 — well, technically $1.23 after tax and fees. The lot includes 25 chairs, three metal bookcases, 12 office desks and tables, three filing cabinets and one double seat.

Furniture abounds on GovDeals and there are some good deals to be had.

9. Kiln — $1,325

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

Want to fire up your own pottery side hustle? This kiln could help get you started — and it sold for thousands less than a similar new one. The seller says it’s in good condition “but needs some TLC.”

The arts and crafts section isn’t all kilns and pottery wheels. It’s also stickers, bowling pins, baskets and framed art.

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 if you bid on this Crown Vic with a V8 engine. It might be 17 years old with 199,277 miles, but hey, it still runs. Plus the body and paint are in good condition. One pretty notable drawback: The powertrain control module “needs to be replaced at some point.”

You can click through hundreds of cars on GovDeals, even 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

Construction materials aren’t cheap these days, so this lot of 1,680 bricks is a steal. The bricks were used as part of an educational program. They’re in good condition even if they look a little wonky. Considering the average cost for 1,000 bricks runs about $350 to $900, you can probably overlook those superficial blemishes.

Aside from cheap bricks, you can find lumber 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 these 2nd generation mini iPads 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 cafeteria tables that are light blue.
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 some extra seating at your next event? You can get both of these high school sized cafeteria tables in good condition for less than $25.

Other Government Surplus Sites

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

Here are a few other government auction sites where you can find bargains:

Happy bargain hunting!

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.




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