Every month, the state of Montana’s ‘General Services Division’ conducts a garage sale.
It’s a way for the state to give new life to office equipment that may no longer be needed, but still has useful life left.
"We have file cabinets. We run those at $10 each. Office chairs at $5 each. We have desks anywhere from $5 to $250 depending on the condition it’s in and the quality,” says State & Federal Surplus Manager Tama Lutsko.
The warehouse, located just off Custer Avenue, is home to office equipment and furniture that has run its course for the state, but can still serve its purpose for someone else.
"A lot of the items that we sell through our surplus recycling program go back to other government entities, whether it’s other state agencies, local school districts, cities or counties. Or they can go to the public,” says General Services Division Administrator Steve Baiamonte.
While most of the large items you’ll find here came from state agencies that no longer need them, you’ll also see blue bins containing small items like corkscrews and folding knives. They were all confiscated by the TSA.
“We’re the agent that TSA uses to redistribute everything that’s confiscated at Montana airports,” says Lutsko. "So we make that available during the garage sale, too."
The garage sales usually take place on the second Friday of each month. In November, that day happens to be Veterans Day, so it’ll be held the first Friday instead.
"We have a lineup at the gate at 8:00 a.m. We open the gate and people come in and a lot of them will know exactly what they’re looking for and will go to that area,” says Lutsko.
Montana first put a law in place to deal with recirculating state goods in 1923, but Lutsko says it’s a tradition that goes back even further.
“One of the first things Lewis and Clark had to do when they got back to St. Louis in 1806 was to hold a public auction and sell the items that survived their trip,” she says. “So we’re just carrying on a 200 year old tradition."
Whether it’s the monthly state surplus garage sale, the annual live auction, or online every day at www.publicsurplus.com – it’s a tradition that continues.
Friday’s sale starts at 8 a.m. and runs until noon at the surplus property warehouse at 16 W. Custer Avenue.