Another man’s treasure

By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor

Like a huge yard sale but with more noise and more mystery, public auctions draw crowds.

Eastern New Mexico University’s surplus auction Saturday attracted more than 175 potential buyers with registered numbers and twice that many or more onlookers gathered in a parking lot amid rows of castoff equipment.

Auctioneer C.L. Bentley of Bentley Auction of Amarillo made the rules clear from the start.

“Terms of sale are as is, where is. If they’ve go any faults you get those too,” Bentley joked.

The items on sale ranged from dorm and building furniture and desks to vehicles, science equipment and a dozen pianos from the music department. Probably the most unusual item, though, was a tabletop model of the Emerald City from the “Wizard of Oz.”

“Somebody give me $5 and go.”

With that Bentley started the auction with a metal filing cabinet that failed to even draw a $1 bid. Unfazed he grouped it with the next items and sold it together with a loveseat and sold the pair for $25.

Lee Quick of the University’s Purchasing Department said the purpose of the surplus auctions, which are held about every two years, is to move things out of the way rather than try to make lots of money.

“Everything here’s been through two to three departments by now,” Quick said. “A lot of the stuff here has been used since the ‘70s. It just gives the community a chance to come back and buy stuff at a reasonable price.”

The ‘70s theme was obvious with the harvest gold or orange covers on the furniture. A good number of items, like science equipment, including an old autoclave seemed to have a doubtful life in the private sector but Bentley sold it all quickly.

Larry Wickham, an ENMU employee in the Information Technology department gave $20 for a pile of computer network equipment that seemed of questionable value.

“I just bought a bunch of junk,” he agreed. “I needed a switch (located in the pile) basically.”

Wickham said that while he’s a big auction fan, this was the first time he’d been to an ENMU auction.

Dan Sexton was a little more commercial than most as he bought a couple dozen appliances, including apartment refrigerators and stoves. He said he was in from Arizona and was buying for a family member who owns a used appliance store in Clovis.

Quick said that the vehicles are always the biggest draw at the auctions. He said that the pianos were also a big deal this year.

“We have a baby grand piano that’s been generating a lot of interest,” Quick said. “The auctioneer told me he’s gotten calls as far away as Dallas from people who saw it on the Internet.”

A smaller crowd gathered for the sale of the pianos inside the music building, which is about to undergo a remodel, and a Bentley representative had sold the lot in less than 15 minutes.

Linda Brown and her daughter Maeve Brown of Floyd bought two of the uprights. Maeve said she plays the fiddle and mandolin but likes the piano too. Her mother said the family now has four pianos.

Chase Gentry, bidding for the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, bought the baby grand for $600.

“We’re going to put it on display in the Norman and Vi Petty museum that’s opening in Clovis Sept. 6,” Gentry said. “I think it’ll look great in there.”