Thursday, November 17, 2005

They're back...

Checked the mail, and low & behold, what did I get?

A brochure, invitation style, for the Technology Recycling Center. What?--it goes on to say "Remember the auctions at Bentley's or The Auction Factory? Well, IT'S BACK".

I'm just surprised it took so long for it to happen in this town, with all the money, projects, companies, etc...

No website I can find, but details are as follows: Doors open Saturday Nov 19th at 7:30am, auction starts at 9:00am. Location is 9040B Madison Blvd, Madison, AL. Phone 256-464-7985.

That's all I know right now, and I just got the brochure today... I hope to go to at least some of the auction (Bama v. Auburn!) and will make a report.

(An hour passes)

Addendum: I guess I didn't explain the history very well: Bentley's Auction had a contract with NASA, Boeing, Teledyne Brown, and others to liquidate their surplus property--computers, electronics, test equipment, burned up satellites!*, scrap metal, furniture, appliances, trucks, and anything else a government agency or private company may own. Bentley ran the auction for a number years, and was getting NASA record returns (ie, NASA got more money from selling surplus using Bentley as auctioneer than NASA gotten using government auctions), but ultimately NASA switched to using GSA Auctions (and I'm sure the revenue has since gone down; the auctions suck).

Anyway, Bently tried to make a go of it without NASA feeding supplies too---ie, only private companies---but they ultimately decided it was too much hassle or expense, and pulled back out of Huntsville (Bentley's still runs auctions in Texas & New Mexico).

After a hiatus, a seemingly-crooked (or at least more poorly run) auction took over selling (non-NASA) surplus; the same companies I listed above, plus Huntsville Hospital and a few US bankruptcy Court auction-items. This was known as "The Auction Factory" as the auction was held in Huntsville's only(?) remaining former-Cotton Mill, Lowe Mill (at one time Huntsville had 4 or 5 total Cotton Mills; all the others have since burned or been torn down; parts of Lincoln Mills are still around, but I'm not sure any of the buildings left were original to the Cotton Mill---Some of the buildings at Lincoln Mills were actually offices where (at least parts of) the Saturn V blueprints were drafted... but that's another blog entry, maybe, some other day...).

So, uh, where was I? Oh, yeah, this crooked-seeming guy took over, ran the auctions for a number of months, and then quit, cause attendance dropped off after a while**. So it's been a year or two of no auctions.

*See James Bamford's Notes, CNN's article, etc

**I think everyone started seeing the guy was dishonest. Dishonest?---you decide: the auctioneer would be working 2 or 3 bidders--you know, "$50, now $55, now $60, do I hear $65?--now $70?" and all of a sudden the owner of the auction would holler out "$150!", and the auctioneer would just keep on, not missing a beat, with "do I hear $155? $155!--how about $160?"--this on items that may or may not have been worth $65 to$70 (I wouldn't have bid that much). After the fact people would be like, "whoah!--it was at $70--the next bid should have been $75 or $80, not $150!--what happened?". I noticed it the first time (I hope), but it took a number of other attendees a while to figure it out, I think, but I do know at least once when the jerk tried it, they got stuck with the item and it didn't sell, cause no bidder could be found that hollered the much-higher bid.


Blogger gregpatterson said...

...and don't forget the Cray YMP-EL supercomputer that sold for a pittance with the "Data Removed" box checked instead of the "Inoperable" one, giving hope that it may have still been functional. I think I remember the most we could pool together for it was $600 and it ended up somewhere around two or three grand. Where you there for that one?

4:14 AM  
Blogger DK said...

GP! I wondered if you'd find this, but thought you'd be interested!!! I looked for your e-mail, but no avail.

Er, yeah, I was at 2 different auctions when Cray's were available, including the one you're talking about. I think all I could come up with was $60 or $80. I remember you & Lee there, possibly Adam Morgan, and there were other people, but can't recall who.

8:39 AM  
Blogger lw said...

I remember the YMP. It was sold to that guy from California who bought it to turn the system boards into plaques for executives. Incidentally, I found out recently that the YMP in question was originally homed at the MSRC where I work here at Stennis. It was then transferred to Hunstville and used by the DC there for awhile before ultimately being surplused. From what I've been told that particular Cray was purchased new in either 1996 or 1998, but I can't remember now.

8:54 AM  

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