Published November 30, 2010
If you missed out on Cyber Monday, there's still lots of time to get a great discount at Crazy Uncle Sam's Online Retail Outlet, where the discounts are as big as the tax code is complicated.
Thanks to several websites sponsored or sanctioned directly by the U.S. government, consumers can help drive down the debt by taking advantage of great prices on government surplus -- including everything from old NASA tape recorders to an aircraft service truck to a 4,000-square-foot office complex in Burma.
That's right, it's a fire sale -- and everything in the U.S. government's warehouses must go, go, go!
Crazy Uncle Sam's Online Retail Outlet offers a plethora of government-run auctions of old items, including cars, boats, computers, machinery and even clothing. And all you have to do is point and click at GovSales.gov, the official retail arm of the White House, part of the Federal Asset Sales Presidential e-Government initiative.
The goal of the site is to make available surplus, seized and forfeited items -- meaning you'll find a great deal on that vehicle of your dreams, if you've been dreaming of an International Harvester people mover (just $2,000!) or a 1990 refueling truck by the Osh Kosh corporation.
Sure, there are plenty of normal cars, such as this Dodge Ram pickup selling for just under $9,000. Or even this 2006 Buick Lacrosse -- no body damage or bullet holes! But when you're shopping with Uncle Sam, why buy normal? Get a golf cart, if it makes you feel good. The site has tons of them. Or better yet, something unique: an aircraft service truck, perhaps? Not only will the Joneses have to keep up with you for a change . . . we promise you'll never have a hard time finding it in the parking lot.
Buying goods from the government is more or less as easy as buying them on eBay, since most items are standard auctions with bidding histories, minimum bids and reserve prices. But you won't find a "Buy It Now" option, and free shipping and overnight delivery are out of the question. If you buy, say, a used a NASA shredder from Cape Canaveral, you'll most likely have to travel to Florida to pick it up.
GovSales.gov also hosts a variety of bizarre seized goods -- medical equipment from Iowa and Tennessee, for example. Looking for a used examination table? We have what you're looking for! How about an X-ray machine? It's a steal at $275. Hopefully, it wasn't stolen in the first place, although you never know …
And if you're all about location, location, location, it's the international real estate section where the assortment of stuff really shines. Why not use the buying power of the American dollar and the long reach of Uncle Sam to buy yourself a nice looking house in Bulgaria? Uncle Sam's sold out in South and Central Asia, meaning there are no Uzbekistan bungalows on the market today. But if you act quickly, there's a 4,000-square-foot office complex in Burma that can be all yours.
Why would the government own such a place? At these prices, who cares?
Want the perfect little getaway? Somewhere warm, on the ocean perhaps? The government has some beautiful property in Bolivia, not to mention what it terms an "executive residence" for sale in Kingston, Jamaica, on four acres of well manicured lawn. Sounds lovely, no? Just don't pry into the former owner's affairs. He may have shot the sheriff.
Other sites have plenty of government-owned excess to unload as well. GovLiquidation.com is one of the biggest, with the tech gadgets and goodies you've been wasting time looking for on Best Buy, NewEgg.com and others. There don't appear to be any new computers available, but Uncle Sam does have 10 pallets of office supplies from Oklahoma City for sale, including Xerox ink, HP toner, and an embossing machine -- of course.
Need a new Digital camera? GovLiquidation has a wealth of those, including zoom lenses and Polaroid and Fuji digital cameras. Get 'em while they're hot . . . and hope they're not too hot; no one likes buying stolen goods.
Keep in mind that Uncle Sam has been tightening his belt -- and you'll find it for sale in the Textiles and Clothing category. And we'll be thinking of you while you shop . . . from the open seas, that is. This seized cigarette boat won't drive itself.