What Is GovDeals and Can Using the Site Save You Money?

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Gone are the days when you could open your local paper and see a classified ad for a public auction down at the ol’ community center. Now, online is the place to be for government and school surplus auctions.

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There are loads of online outlets specializing in sales of government and public agency auctions, including U.S. government sale sites and Municibid, an auction marketplace where state, county and local governments sell supplies and forfeitures directly to the public, but business surplus platform GovDeals has captured the attention of buyers looking for savings and selection.

According to its site, the 20-year-old GovDeals has managed over $2.6 billion in sales to over 1 million registered buyers. GovDeals, a brand owned by Liquidity Services, a publicly traded company, has more than 14,000 sellers and access to more than 3.6 million potential buyers through the Liquidity Services network. It claims that by delivering true market values, the platform generates higher returns for its sellers.

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While GovDeals bills itself as a secure and transparent online auction house for surplus government and educational inventory, it also oversees sales in virtually every category you could imagine, including equipment, real estate, transportation, energy, medical, food service, construction and aviation, to name a few.  

GovDeals has become a favorite fundraising outlet for municipal agencies. The Northumberland County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia, for example, has used the site to auction off surplus and repossessed vehicles to offset the cost of new ones, according to News on the Neck.

North of the U.S. border, Norfolk County in Ontario, Canada, collected over $485,000 from GovDeals online auctions in 2021, getting rid of vehicles, computers and office furniture, plus rarer items like Zambonis — or ice surfacing machines — and recycled asphalt, The Beacon Herald reported.

In a recent article, The Penny Hoarder noted that with a little sleuthing, you can discover all sorts of deals on treasures and oddities on the site. Some fun finds include a baby grand piano (winning bid: $875), 2005 Crown Victoria police cruiser ($1,125), 1,680 bricks ($50), three used Fitbits ($20), a pottery kiln ($1,325), a set of 12 Birthday Bear Beanie Babies ($22.25) and one lot of office furniture (including 25 chairs, three metal bookcases, 12 office desks and tables and three filing cabinets) that sold for $1.

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And according to The Hustle, GovDeals has given buyers the chance to own Black Hawk helicopters, McLaren sports cars, wedding gowns, jewelry, animals and a top-secret Navy stealth boat.

People are always on the hunt for bargains and strange goods, and online auction sites give the frugal and the curious the opportunity to bid on both. For startups and small businesses not in a position to buy new, auctions are an affordable alternative for industrial equipment and furniture.

Online auction sites can bring in much-needed revenue to commercial sellers while relieving them of bothersome marketing efforts. “Government employees don’t really have the time to curate a sophisticated PR strategy for the haphazard array of items they auction, but private contractors do,” The Hustle noted.

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If you’re looking for savings and selection, GovDeals’ online government and educational surplus auctions can’t be beat. But buyer beware: You are bidding on items sight unseen, and the majority of sellers do not ship items — especially large items — to buyers.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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