A World War I era binocular that still works, an ornate wedding dress, expensive gold and silver watches and jewelry, a long, black samurai sword.
All things seized by Mesa police, abandoned by their owners, and on sale for pennies on the dollar.
One city’s surplus store stocked with seized items could be a Mesa resident’s treasure — or trash — this holiday season.
“These are the kind of things we have on sale now,” said Mesa surplus coordinator Sherri Power. “We get a little of the unusual and a lot of the usual.”
City officials have started advertising the surplus warehouse where the city says it has “gifts at a great price” and just in time for Christmas shoppers still craving Black-Friday deals.
Electronics, sporting goods, even a new cell phone that’s a little bigger than an ice cube, surplus store worker Yvonne Brown and four other employees manage to research fair market values and then undercut them, she said. The facility shares space with materials and supplies for city work crews, and two days a week — on Tuesday and Thursday mornings — they open up for the sale of seized items.
“The police case has to be cleared before the items can ever come to us,” she said.
Some notables: a Rolex watch worth $45,000 that sold for $4,500, and a Ronald McDonald statue that eventually sold after the crew tried to find a restaurant missing the beloved mascot.
Power said money from all of the items sold goes to benefit the city’s general fund and pays for city business; in a sense filling in a gap that might otherwise be paid for with tax dollars.
This year alone, Power said, the surplus store has raised more than $114,000, with an additional $30,000 from the sale of seized items on eBay. That revenue has seen a dip since the year before, though, when the combined surplus store and Internet sales netted the city $159,000, she said.
Power said part of that boon was from a surplus of hundreds of bicycles, which the city sold at as much as 50 percent off. Now, the city only has about 70 bikes for sale, with deep cuts to the normal price for bikes. “We even have Trek bikes and a Cannondale,” said Power.
Banking that residents are looking for deals more than ever these days, Brown said the store tried something new this year.
“This is the first year that we stayed open all summer, and we plan on doing that from now on,” Brown said, noting that the roughly 3-year-old surplus store typically closed for a few months in the summer.
Also new, Brown said there is an aisle dedicated to the surplus store goods, such as tires, new shovels, and other maintenance-related materials.
“We don’t have to move things in and out, back and forth; they can just come and walk the aisle, anytime we’re opened,” Brown said.
If You Go
The Mesa surplus store is open for business and holds a sale every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Mesa Warehouse, 7041 E. Adobe, off Power Road between Brown Road and University Drive.
For information, visit mesaaz.gov/auction/ or call (480) 644-2663.