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Defense spending

Uncle Sam hosts garage sales, featuring surplus military items.

Clifton Adcock January 18th, 2012

A dimly lit warehouse in southwest Oklahoma City is reminiscent of the closing scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” in which the Ark of the Covenant is boxed away and tucked among a never-ending trove of government secrets.

The main difference, however, is that the U.S. Department of Defense items stored in this warehouse don’t melt faces — and they're all for sale.

Whether one is preparing for a 2012 doomsday or just wanting to turn a profit by reselling the equipment, there is no shortage of items from which to choose, said Thomas Burton, president and chief operating officer of Arizona-based Government Liquidation.

The company, which boasts a 320,000-square-foot warehouse in OKC, receives a wide variety of surplus items from DOD and auctions them online at

Most of the smaller items are sold in bulk; larger or more expensive and unique goods are sold individually, all at a starting bid of $150.

Items include musical instruments, belts, boots, heavy-duty sleeping bags, diesel engines, medical equipment, brass shell casings and almost anything used by the military.

Each live auction lasts 72 hours, and the company holds around 2,300 auctions per week, Burton said.

While those with a winning bid must pick up their item at the warehouse, which opened in May 2009, it is often possible to get some items for fairly cheap, such as a pile of scrap metal worth more than $5,000 that Burton said sold for $150.

right, Dixie Paschal with Government Liquidation surveys goods for sale.

Other items are especially unique, such as a Boeing 747 recently put on the site — with a starting bid of $150.

“Everything starts at $150, even a 747,” Burton said. “That’s always the tricky part, where to start the bidding.”

Dangerous items are not auctioned by the company.

“Everything we get is safe,” Burton said. “The guns and the hazardous materials — there’s procedures, processes in place to handle that. It’s not offered to the public. We don’t get things that would cause some sort of security risk.”

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