County’s First Online Auction Called A Success

SNOW HILL – Worcester County’s first online auction of surplus vehicles and equipment was successful and brought in more money than the most recent traditional auction, Worcester County staff reported this week,

“We grossed around $84,500 on the auction with minimal expenses,” said Public Works Director John Tustin. “In 2005, we had nine more pieces of equipment and the [online] auction actually grossed $15,000 more.”

All 59 items offered were sold, from 47 vehicles to 12 pieces of equipment, and only two pieces are waiting to be picked up. The surplus vehicles sold included an old ambulance and the surplus equipment, a forklift.

The items brought in $91,900, with GovDeals.com, the online auction site used, taking about $6,900 in commission. The county also spent $433 on a sign, made in house.

The exact net profit from the online auction was $84,580.39.

The most recent on the ground auction in 2005 grossed $79,500 from the sale of 53 vehicles, 15 pieces of equipment and a variety of office furniture, according to staff. The auction company, Marshall’s Auction Marketing, took $7,150 in commission, with county expenses at $2,700, leaving $69,700 profit.

Some Worcester County Commissioners were resistant to the idea when it was proposed earlier this year. Not everyone who would be interested in the county surplus items has access to a computer, they said. Others would not want to track the ongoing auction over days.

Some winning bids came from locals, Tustin reported, belying fears that putting the sale online would shut out local bidders who attended the traditional physical auctions

“Once they got to it, they bid,” said Worcester County Commissioner Virgil Shockley. “One guy said, ‘I like not being tied up’.”

“The access was there and it was good to see some activity locally,” Tustin said.

Other bids came from the continental United States and one from Canada.

Staff reported that the online auction was less time consuming, more buyers were reached and weather had no affect on number of bidders. One minor drawback is that payment is not available to the seller as quickly as the traditional auction here in Worcester County.

The online auctions can be held more frequently, which will save storage costs, according to staff. In the future, the county will list items on GovDeals whenever several surplus items have accumulated.

“We felt the auction using this site was very successful,” said Tustin.

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