mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Goodbye, state surplus warehouse. I hardly knew ye..

Well, evidently the State of Maryland has decided to close it's surplus warehouse. They've decided that the cost of staffing the warehouse isn't worth it, especially since they can sell the warehouse itself for 2.4 million (which seems like a lot for a warehouse that's surrounded by prisons).

Sharp-eyed readers will note that I visited the Depot back in May. The warehouse was full of crap - institutional furniture from the '70's, old computers (I didn't see anything newer than a P3), even older laptops (several of which had NOT Y2K COMPLIANT stickers on them), and things that made you scratch your head (disposable cameras with most of the pictures used up).

Besides being full of stuff you can't figure out why anyone would buy, the surplus depot suffers from a bizarre pricing structure and hours that make bankers jealous. It seems like they pick one price for each category - most of the computers were $60, regardless of specs, condition, number of parts missing, or if it had a sticker on it listing what didn't work. A 2x Philips CDRW drive was $50. Phones were $10, and it didn't matter if it was a battered corded or a TTY device.

The other problem with the surplus depot is that it has state government hours - 8-4, only on weekdays. This pretty much limits the amount of customers they will get to the retired, the unemployed, and those who work close enough to go on their lunch break. My guess is that good stuff occasionally does come in, and gets snatched up by people from those groups (or people who work there and their friends/family).

The state plans on moving to auctions, eBay, and donations, which probably make more sense. I've bought seized knives on eBay from Oregon and PA already, and eBay is good for easily shipped, high value items. In person auctions can also be pretty good - the state police auction I went to a few months ago was well-attended, held on a Saturday when normal people could go, and most of the prices were actually higher than the item was worth (I ended up losing money on the PowerBook I bought there when I sold it on eBay, although my $37 worth of postage for $19 was a steal).

The surplus depot was a good idea in theory - let state residents buy state surplus - but the way it was run made it a waste of money instead of a source of it. This may be one of the rare decisions that I can't really fault O'Malley for.


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