Get into a business auction frame of mind if you will start a business and need to stretch your available cash as far as it will go. We are not talking about opening an eBay store and auction off products, although that could be a lucrative business. No, we are talking about getting into the frame of mind of buying at auction as the lowest possible price. It takes a little longer and requires more planning than running out to the local mall, but it can save you a bundle if you bid right, even with shipping costs.
A recent online visit to eBay to shop for office supplies revealed 126,880 items up for auction. We refined our business auction search to office furniture and came up with 18,237 results. Under office furniture, the list was further broken out by manufacturers including HON, Safco, Mayline, Herman Miller, Office Star, Steelcase, Rubbermaid OFM and more. The category was further broken out by type of furniture, material, color and price.
To further refine our business auction search, we clicked on filing cabinets, something most business people need. When that category came up, all 3,060 of them, we clicked again on the list to make the least expensive, lowest shipping cost items come up first. The cheapest we found was $.99. Of course, that particular auction still had five days to go so you can be sure the price would rise from there. We also clicked on the online store of a prominent office supply chain to see what a similar filing cabinet was going for--$179.99.
The best way to get the best price in this type of situation is to know exactly what you want—brand, model number, color, etc. If you have never bid on eBay before, you will be wondering how will you know if the quality is good. Since you cannot feel or touch the actual item (unless it is local), you have to rely on the seller’s feedback. Ebay sellers live and die on the feedback they get from customers. If they were to stiff a buyer with a lousy product, that buyer could give negative feedback that would hamper their ability to sel anything else on eBay. So as you are going through the various items and come across a file cabinet or something else that you want, before you bid, check out the seller’s feedback. If it is anything less than stellar, pass by the item.
To get even better business auction deals, check out your local Sunday newspapers or the regional Sunday papers for upcoming auctions in the area/region. If you will be a bidder on office supplies, and equipment, for example, you could get your requirements filled at almost no cost. How is that possible? If you look in the paper at gun auctions, car auctions, software auctions, real estate auctions, boat auctions, most of the people who attend those particular auctions will be focused on the main event of the auction--cars, guns, boats. See what else will be auctioned off that day. Typically, whatever else is being auctioned off has an office attached to it.
For example, one woodworking artisan we visited who was fitting out a new woodworking shop said that he had purchased most of the equipment at an auction of a large woodworking company that was going out of business. He said that most of the people who attended the auction were other woodworking people, totally focused on the heavy equipment. He said that the actual office portion of the auction—the chairs, desks, filing cabinets, telephones, calculators, and more went for virtually nothing. In one case, an entire office was sold for $125. Imagine someone, perhaps you, starting out in business and being able to secure a whole office for $125? One problem with this type of auction is that the cars, guns, boats, etc. will be auctioned off first, so you might spend much of the day there.
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