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New York's trash could be your treasure on public auction site


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New York state will hawk its surplus goods on a new website in early April, and for online scavengers that means a treasure trove of both the pedestrian and peculiar.

Almost 500 cars will go on the market when launches, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week. Officials said the site will be better categorized and more user-friendly than the state's current eBay account, which has been active for more than eight years.

On the new site, the state will be selling a lot of the same stuff available right now, including scrap metal, office furniture and cell phones. You can also find more eclectic items, including an egg incubator and pool table.

Last fiscal year, the state raked in $820,000 from selling the goods, and $1.3 million the year before, according to the Office of General Services, which operates the eBay seller name "nyssurplus-albany."

The figure can fluctuate because there's no expectation to bring in increasing amounts annually, said Heather Groll, a spokeswoman for the office.

"It all depends on what we have to sell," Groll said.

The state is considered a "top-rated seller" on eBay with a 99.2% positive feedback rating. The online auction company is also partnering with the state's upcoming site.

eBay didn't return a request for comment.

Selling online "is great because we find homes for many things that are difficult to find a place for," Groll said. "If you think about some of the old things found ... there's not a lot of use for us."

The items come from various state agencies and for the most part are obsolete.

A couple of months ago, the state Department of Education sold off a pipe organ, the kind "you find in old theaters," Groll said.

The current eBay account features a massage table being bid for more than $38 and a Sears egg incubator going for at least $78. Scrap metal is among the most competitively bid -- worth more than $2,350 for one assortment.

The state doesn't ship, so the lucky bidders have to pick up the items -- which can be located anywhere from Brooklyn to Albany.

Governments can generally make more money when they sell their spare parts online instead of at public auctions, said Lucy Dadayan, a senior policy analyst at the SUNY Rockefeller Institute of Government.

"By all means, it won't solve the budget problems in New York, but it's a harmless way of generating more revenue," Dadayan said.

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Up for sale

Here’s some examples of what’s up for sale right now on the state's eBay page:

Scrap metal

Info: About 15 tons of miscellaneous scrap metal located at a state Department of Transportation site.
Bids as of Sunday: 7
Amount: $2,649

Brunswick pool table

Info: Pool table is in good condition; sold through the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
Bids as of Sunday: 15
Amount: $415

Sears egg incubator

Info: Incubator is in fair condition. It’s unclear where it came from.
Bids as of Sunday: 12
Amount: $78

Massage table

Info: Massage table is in fair condition, although it’s missing the headrest. It’s being sold through the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation. The table was used at the Saratoga Spa State Park.
Bids as of Sunday: 7
Amount: $38.02

Miscellaneous pack

Info: Includes Casio digital camera, Fuji Film digital camera, silver/gold ladies watch, electronic compass, magnetic compass. It’s unclear where it came from.
Bids as of Sunday: 19
Amount: $102.50

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