A University-Sized Sale With Something for Everyone

The monthly Surplus Equipment Sale brings bargain hunters to the UCR campus

excess warehouse

The Surplus Equipment warehouse on a recent sale day. Photo by Ross French

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — On the first Tuesday of each month, they come. Some faces are familiar, some are new, but they all line up in the UC Riverside Corporation Yard, standing in the late-morning light, waiting for the doors of the Surplus Warehouse to slide open.

For behind those doors is a menagerie of items that the University of California, Riverside no longer needs or wants. And on one day each month, for just a few hours, this unique collection of treasures is available for purchase by almost anyone at UCR’s Surplus Equipment Sale.

“We have regulars who we see every month. People who work on campus, retirees, the general public,” said Judy Hodge, surplus equipment assistant. “It’s fun to see them and chat with them every month.”

No one is quite sure how long the sale has been taking place, although it has certainly been longer than three decades. “I’ve been here 34 years, so I know it is at least that long,” said Campus Storehouse Logistics Manager Dolores Cordova, who took over operations of the sale in 2010.

Most of the buyers are seeking a specific item. On this day, some earlybirds go directly to the desks and office chairs, trying them out for fit and feel, while others go to the computers and start checking them for functionality. A woman peruses the lost and found items, quickly purchasing a necklace, while a young man ponders purchasing a pair of sunglasses, trying them on before deciding they weren’t the right look for him and putting them back down.


Clickers and calculators are among the lost and found items. Photo by Ross French

Looking across the room is like looking at a slice of UCR history. Desks, chairs and file cabinets, some perhaps dating back to the campus’ earliest days; computers and other electronic equipment, maybe just a generation or two from being “state-of-the-art;” and even unclaimed lost and found items, including jewelry, electronic gadgets, books and clothing. Virtually any piece of equipment on the UCR campus has a chance of ending up at the surplus warehouse at the end of its useful life.

“Anything that departments don’t want or need anymore, they send to us,” Hodge said. “If it is in good shape, we’ll set a price for it and put it up for sale.”

The sale also contains lost and found items, which are held for three months to give their owners a chance to claim them. If they go unclaimed, they are put into the sale.

Ryan Charette coordinates the monthly sale for Equipment Management and evaluates most of the items that come through.

“It becomes pretty easy to see what has value and what does not,” he said. “A lot of it is visual. For a chair, we’ll look at it and see if it is stained, see if it rises. If it all works, we’ll sell it, if not, we get rid of it.”

He said that about 60 percent of surplus items are retained for sale. The rest is disposed of, or, in the case of scrap metal and e-waste, recycled.  The sale makes a big difference in the campus’ sustainability efforts.  In the 2013-14 fiscal year, the campus resold between 450 and 500 units of furniture, diverting 33,850 pounds of furniture from landfill.

Cordova said that her staff sets item prices based upon their prices on eBay and other outlets. “If an object doesn’t sell, we’ll reduce it at the next sale, and so on, until it sells,” she said.

Each month an email is sent out to the campus and to the regular customers listing what is available, and an updated list appears on the Materials Management web page. The majority of items listed on the site are around $100 or less, with file cabinets going for $15-$20, desks for $40-$50, computer monitors for $40-$45, but the site also lists some larger, unique specialty items. Recent eclectic listings include two 50- pound frames holding 16 panels of pure quartz glass for $500 and Faxitron RX-650compact cabinet X-ray irradiator for $18,000. Vehicles such as cars and work trucks are sold via public auction.


Candy McReynolds poses with her new bike. Photo by Ross French

On this sale day, the most popular items were bicycles, and several people made their way to the back of the fenced in storage yard to look at the collection of mountain bikes, beach cruisers and BMX-style racers. Some looked like they had just come from a store, while others showed neglect that comes with being abandoned for months on a campus bike rack, left behind by a now-departed student. Some still had locks and chains on them.

Like lost and found items, the bikes have been in storage for at least three months to give their owners the opportunity to claim them before entering the sale. Bikes with licenses are often reunited with owners, while bikes without licenses usually end here.

Candy McReynolds, an analyst in Anthropology/Sociology, was one of the big winners of this month’s bike derby. She found the perfect weekend cruiser, complete with a basket on the front handlebars. The only drawback? The front spokes had a U-lock weaved through them.

“I didn’t need anything extravagant, just something that would get me around to and from where I need to go,” she said, as she waited for excess equipment staff member to appear with a bolt cutter to remove the lock.

Mark Hilado and Zach Diaz came away with a nice mountain bike for Hilado’s father.

“I had heard about the bikes and definitely wanted to pick one up,” Hilado said. “At 25 bucks each, it is a pretty good steal.”


Zach Diaz (right) and Mark Hilado (left) pose with the bike they had purchased for Hilado’s father. Photo by Ross French

He said that they had made at least four previous trips to the sale and had come away with a computer monitor, a desk, and a bunch of other knickknacks.

“Flash drives, clothes, we always walk away with something,” Hilado said, adding that his strangest purchase was a Japanese comic book that featured Budda and Jesus Christ. “It was a nickel, so of course I bought it.”

At 4 p.m., the doors shut and the sale closes. For the next four weeks or so the warehouse will only be open to savvy UCR employees who come, recharge form in hand, looking for equipment and furniture for their departments.

“Departments have the first choice. They can come in anytime throughout the month and see what we have and purchase it,” Hodge said. “A lot of people don’t know we are here, so we’d love to see more students, faculty, and staff come out and see what we have.”

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-4756
E-mail: john.warren@ucr.edu

Additional Contacts

Dolores Cordova
Tel: (951) 827-5546
E-mail: dolores.cordova@ucr.edu

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