County will clear its attic through cyberspace sale

Todd Nightenhelser, owner of The Collector's Box in Huntington, is conducting an auction of surplus Huntington County property through the online sales site eBay. The auction begins Sunday night, April 19.
Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Huntington County government, just like any citizen of the county, has a pile of "stuff" it doesn't really need anymore.

But unlike residents who may decide to offload some of that stuff through a rummage sale, county officials have decided to offload online.

An auction of the first of three lots of unwanted county-owned items will begin Sunday, April 19, on the popular online auction site eBay.

The online auction is a new twist on the traditional auction of surplus items previously held by the county every few years.

"We're going to be able to keep more of our money this year," says Tom Wall, president of the Huntington County Board of Commissioners.

The eBay auction will be operated by Todd Nightenhelser, owner of The Collector's Box, a brick-and-mortar store in downtown Huntington. But Nightenhelser also does business through eBay and offered his services to the county.

"This is mostly to benefit the community," Nightenhelser says. "We're doing this at minimal profit to us."

Nightenhelser inventoried the more than 212 items the county had stored in the former Elks Lodge building on State Street, one of three buildings where the county has unwanted items in storage. He came up with about 100 items he believes can be sold.

Those items will appear on eBay April 19 at 10 p.m. Huntington time (that's 7 p.m. eBay time; the Web site keeps California time) and will remain online for exactly seven days.

Interested bidders should go to http://stores.ebay.com/TCB-GAMES and look for the section of the store labeled "Huntington County items."

Although the sale items won't be available for viewing until the auction starts, Nightenhelser and his staff did offer a preview of some of the more unusual items: a strait jacket (used), three collapsible voting booths, a daybed, a man's bicycle and an oak and red velvet computer chair.

There are also many file cabinets as well as desks, office machines that may or may not work and other office supplies.

The remaining items in the former Elks building, which is now owned by the county, were either too damaged to sell or are "trash," Nightenhelser says.

Of the rejects, Wall says, some are metal file cabinets that will be sold for scrap and others are obsolete computer monitors that will be taken to the Solid Waste District for disposal. Remaining items will be disposed of.

Meanwhile, Nightenhelser is inventorying unwanted county-owned property stored on the top floor of the Courthouse Annex and in the basement and a couple of rooms in the Courthouse. Whatever he finds worth selling will also be auctioned on eBay in subsequent sales that will be held in consecutive seven-day blocks, he says.

The items will remain in county storage during the sales, Nightenhelser says. They will not be on display at The Collector's Box.

Although eBay policy prohibits Nightenhelser from allowing residents to use his store's computers to participate in the auction, he says he can assist anyone who brings their own laptop or iPhone to the store. The store is equipped with wireless Internet service.

Successful bidders can either pick up their purchases in person or request to have them shipped. However, buyers will have to pay the shipping costs. Nightenhelser and his employees will physically pack and ship the items.

Paying Nightenhelser to do the work, Wall says, will be cheaper than having county employees assemble the items for a live auction.

"We'd have eight or nine employees, and a couple of trucks, working two days to get it to the auction site," Wall says. "This way, we don't have to touch anything."

Proceeds from the auction will go into the county's general fund, Wall says, which pays the county's day-to-day operating expenses.

The auctions will also leave the county with some extra space in its buildings, Wall notes.

"The third floor of the Annex is a completed office," he says. Once the unwanted items are cleared out, he says, it could be used as a conference room or for employee training.

"We need space," Wall says. "There's no sense in having all these rooms cluttered up with this stuff."