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UNT Surplus brings a second life to retired university items

UNT Surplus brings a second life to retired university items

UNT Surplus brings a second life to retired university items
September 26
09:00 2018

As soon as the clock strikes 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the doors open up at a dust-coated warehouse on Precision Street. This is where used items go to have an opportunity of a second life.

The UNT Surplus warehouse has secondhand items that the community or campus can look into purchasing. Anything, from bikes that have been left chained to a tree to a university charter bus, is put into their inventory.

“Once they’re impounded they have to stay for so long before they can be released to be sold,” regular customer Lisa Schellenberg said. “They give you tons of leeway.”

Schellenberg has been coming to the warehouse for a while now for several different reasons: donating equipment to the community, helping out friends in need and even furnishing her daughter’s apartment as well. 

“The big thing I would love to see out of it is the schools — the area schools, the children, [and] the college kids,” Schellenberg said. “If they knew about this, [it] would help them financially.” 

Others also come to the warehouse to make a profit off the unique items they find. Jacob Dill and Jason Schwartz are independent resellers who come to the warehouse frequently.

“You’ll hear about it when they have a ton of stuff,” Dill said. “Like these chairs, that’s why there’s so many people here today at first, triple the amount of normal. Or bike day when they have the bikes, or kitchen equipment, too. I feel like people come from pretty far away sometimes for the big days. Sometimes they’ll sell tons of kitchen equipment.”

Dill and Schwartz both have been coming to the warehouse looking for technology and anything else that catches their eye that could be interesting. Even if it may not be useful, Schwartz said the experience of finding them is fun in itself.

Denton residents are able to come and shop at the UNT warehouse on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The warehouse offers items from desk chairs and bikes to iMac’s and video cameras. Cameron Roe

“Some of the stuff is historical because it’s so old and it gets dug up,” Schwartz said. “Some of the stuff isn’t really usable. It’s just kind of cool to look at, like the old microscopes or the old scientific equipment and stuff like that.”

At the warehouse, items are put up for sale if they are impounded, retired or in need of repair. The university looks at each item and looks to see if it is able to realistically be sold to the public. All items are sold on a first-paid basis, meaning whoever purchases the item first, gets it. They only take cash or personal checks with a valid driver’s license.

“They had to change all the rules up because now you’re supposed to go up to [the checkout desk] and pay for the item before anyone else gets it,” Schwartz said. “Now it’s whoever pays for it first, instead of whoever picks it up first.”

Dill and Schwartz have found many interesting finds over their time coming out to the warehouse, including Dallas Cowboys practice film from the 1940s, a Kilo Gauss meter and old but well-kept projectors for a cheap price. 

According to Schwartz, there used to be a competitive atmosphere in the warehouse when two or more people would reach for an item.

“People used to get into fights over who picked it up or whatever,” Schwartz said.

The warehouse’s environment has changed since the rule change. Workers and other shoppers will look around and help each other to make a friendlier environment that has grown into a community.

Customer Jerry Lefner was looking for a bike to get around campus when shopper Gabe Aguilar spotted him and was recommending certain bikes to him. The two then agreed on a deal where Aguilar will help Lefner get the bike street-ready. 

“The shop will usually get people trying to sell us stuff all the time that’s at this level, and we don’t usually do that, but I figured in this case it would be good for him to have something that works and works well,” Aguilar said.

Items at the warehouse range in pricing. Bikes can go from $45 to $80 and desks in bulk can be $5 each.

“Items are priced to resemble as close to fair market value as possible based on condition — fair, poor or dismantled for parts,” said April Barnes, associate vice president of pudget and analytics. “Surplus is a place to retire university property that has reached its useful life. Property is then assessed for resale or scrap. Surplus is a great alternative to sending items to landfill and at UNT, we mean green.”

The warehouse is open on Tuesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to the public, and all sales are final.

“It’s a hidden gem in the Denton County Community and not many people know about it,” Schellenberg said. “If people knew about it, especially the ones that are in need and can’t afford real expensive bookshelves and things like that, then this [would be] the place. You can live economically within your budget in Denton. You can go to school, you can furnish your home, you can get a bike — you can get everything you need here”

Featured Image: Denton residents and students are able to buy things such as bikes and computers at low and affordable rates. The bikes available for purchase are taken from campus after being impounded for a minimum of two weeks. Cameron Roe

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Spencer James Nelson

Spencer James Nelson

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