(Editor’s note: Outdoor Guide Editor Bobby Whitehead’s Dogwood Journal column is taking this issue off, but will return in the September-October issue.)
For years, I have seen the notices from the Missouri Department of Conservation announcing its semi-annual surplus auction. I always thought I would like to attend the event at the maintenance warehouse in Salem, MO, hoping to find a bargain or something I couldn’t live without.
Probably what I liked best about the concept was how it reminded me of going to farm auctions with Grandpa Joe when I was a kid.
Those on-site sales were usually bittersweet, because it often meant someone was getting out of the farming business for good. On the other hand, someone looking to add to their collection of equipment could land something “new” to park in the barn.
In northern Jefferson County in the 1970s, it was not uncommon for a family to have decided to abandon the plows and planters and allow developers to turn their fields and pastures into subdivisions.
THE NEW OLD SPREADER
The most memorable – if not the best – bargain that Grandpa ever got was at an auction just a few miles from home. He was all smiles as we rumbled toward the farm with his old Chevy truck towing his new, old manure spreader.
With its chain-driven cross beams and spinning blades, the contraption was capable of recycling barnyard waste as fertilizer with great efficiency.
“If anyone gives us any (s—) now boys, we got just the place for it,” Grandpa said in the comedic way that endeared him to me and all my cousins. It was the kind of thing we knew not to repeat around Grandma, but I heard him use the line quite a few times in retelling the story in appropriate places like the feed store or farmer’s market.
The state conservation department auctions seemed like the kind of place I could find a real steal of a deal. The agency tasked with managing fish and wildlife selling its old and surplus property might be a great place to find a boat or motor, canoe or car, truck or trailer, or any number of tools for working the water and woods.
THE NEW DEAL
But those sales are no more. The state announced that rather than hold the live auctions in June and October, items would be added to the govdeals.com website as they came available and could be purchased year-round.
“Our move to all-online auctions with offerings posted throughout the year makes it easier and more convenient for many people to see, bid on, and buy items offered by the Department,” said general services supervisor Jeff Arnold, who coordinates the department’s auction activities. “It also provides significant time and cost savings by eliminating the need to transport and store auction items from throughout the state to the Salem Maintenance Center, prepare each item, advertise, and staff the live auctions.”
Each auction item listed includes pictures and detailed information on what is being offered, where it is located, inspection information and options. The items include bid dates and other details, payment methods, removal/collection of the items by the buyers, special instructions, and a way to submit questions about the item.
Another advantage for the buyer in the online sale is that purchasers are not only limited to items sold by local entities. Surplus items from government agencies all over the U.S. and Canada are available at the site.
Users can search for Missouri Department of Conservation and see only the items listed there. Two 16-foot Pelican canoes were available last week. One was going for a bid of $150 and the other “new listing” was only $30 with a few more days to go until the sale closed.
Users may also search the website by their home location and find items being sold by entities closer to home than Salem.
The global list of products brings up many other interesting items to browse including fire trucks, at least one Zamboni machine, all-terrain vehicles, gambling equipment, tractors and other farm machinery. Just no manure spreaders.
John J. Winkelman is community relations manager at Mercy Hospital Jefferson. If you have news for Outdoor Guide Magazine, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow John on Twitter at @johnjwink99.