DUNBAR, West Virginia — Office furniture, computers and even microfilm viewers fill two large warehouses in Dunbar, waiting to be bought.
These items and more are surplus property once used by state agencies. As the items are replaced, they're picked up by the State Agency for Surplus Property and made available to other agencies, nonprofit organizations and the public.
"We sell just about anything and everything," said State Agency for Surplus Property manager Elizabeth Perdue. "There is a lot of neat stuff that comes through here."
When items arrive at the warehouse, employees log the information and price the piece. For standard items, the agency uses fair market value, but for unique items, the crew does research to find a fair price.
"If it's something that's not standard, the warehouse supervisor will go online and do research," Perdue said. "We'll look at eBay, for example, to see what something is selling for. As far as a normal, standard desk, it might just go for $10 or $15. If you get a nicer desk that's been refinished, we've had them sell for $1,000. That doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes we get some really nice things in here."
The availability of previously owned state vehicles is one thing Surplus Property is known for. State vehicles are retired from use once they reach four years of age or 100,000 miles. They then are turned over to Surplus Property, which then makes them available to the public.
"They're usually in pretty good shape," she said. "The state maintains them well. We have all the maintenance records and we go and price them and check and see how many miles, any damage, anything like that."
Doug Elkins, vehicle coordinator for Surplus Property, said the public can usually get a pretty good deal on a newer, well-maintained car, truck, van or SUV.
"We price everything based on NADA loan value so we give the public a good deal," he said. "We take mileage and condition into account and price based on that, then add them to our sheet once everything has been approved."
Elkins said all problems with the vehicles are disclosed to the buyer, and a visual inspection is completed. Potential buyers can't test drive the vehicles, however.
"They cannot test drive it, but they can start them," Elkins said. "They can pull them up and back a bit."
Surplus Property can't finance vehicle purchases, but buyers can use credit or debit cards, money orders or bank certified checks. Cash is not accepted for any purchase.
"We're pretty flexible with the public as far as payment options," Elkins said.
Much of Surplus Property's parking lot is full of new vehicles set to be disbursed to a variety of state agencies. Surplus Property works closely with Fleet Management, the state agency in charge of buying and maintaining state cars, to cycle vehicles in and out of use.
"It's an ever-changing inventory," Elkins said, although current inventory is a little low.
In August, a new "class" is scheduled, meaning state agencies will trade old vehicles for new. That will dramatically increase the number of vehicles available for public purchase.
"It's a pretty good flow," Elkins said. "It varies depending on what day of the week you come in here what inventory we have, but it's pretty popular. You can get a nice, used vehicle at a pretty affordable price."
People who aren't in the market for a new vehicle may still find some interesting things in either of the two warehouses. One warehouse is specifically for furniture, and warehouse employee Matt Harper said the building stays pretty full. Currently, the warehouse is home to items from Canaan Valley State Park, which recently underwent extensive renovations and retired used furniture to Surplus Property.
"We try to gear things toward college students or people moving to new offices," said Tony O'Leary, public information specialist for the Division of Purchasing. "We have nonprofit food pantries sometimes take filing cabinets because they're great for storing canned goods. It's a little unconventional, but it's perfect for cans of soup or what have you. However one can be creative to put items to use."
Items, including vehicles, that don't sell quickly are posted to govdeals.com, a website used by states across the country and the federal government to auction surplus items. Buyers can purchase directly from the website and pick up their goods themselves.
The State Agency for Surplus Property is regularly open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Perdue asks all purchases be made and loaded by 4 p.m. to give staff time to document and close their books. Surplus Property is located at 2700 Charles Ave., Dunbar.
Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, http://www.charlestondailymail.com