From Dump Trucks To Scooters: A Look At Online Public Auctions
Have you ever wanted a three-wheeled scooter? How about a used police car?
If you want to purchase government equipment, it can be as simple as logging onto Publicsurplus.com, a site used by the city of Sheridan, Sheridan County, WYDOT, and a slew of other government entities.
In the past, these government bodies would host a live auction at a physical location, like the fairgrounds. Sometimes, they wouldn’t even sell the items—which can range from Ford trucks to cattle guards— separately.
County Engineer Ken Muller said that the public works department has been using the site for a few years now, and the department is reaping a number of benefits from the online process. These perks include convenience and a wider accessibility.
Before these auctions had been placed on the internet, potential buyers had to be on site on the day it was being held. Now a buyer can purchase the equipment from nearby or several states away, days after the equipment has been posted to the webpage. Sheridan County once shipped an auctioned piece to Mexico.
These online auctions make shopping fairly cheap and convenient, but they haven’t become any more predictable, and some government bodies only hold auctions every few years. The timing of an auction usually relates to how well the equipment is holding up and how much money the department has received.
“Sometimes we replace failing equipment and aging equipment a little sooner, and sometimes we have to put money into it and keep it just like anybody else—keep it running until we can afford to replace it,” Muller said.
But unpredictability can also be fun, he noted. After all, browsing through many auctions allows more opportunity to find items like a three-wheeled scooter or a dump truck—the things you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw it online.