Liquidation sales

Every now and then, at least once a year, some outfit will come to town and set up a big liquidation sale. They mostly sell consumer electronics at lower prices (about half or less) of what you would pay retail. For example, the ad on the radio announced VCRs for $39 and laptop computers for $399, among several other prices that sounded good to anyone marginally paying any attention to the ad. They also listed jewelry, clothes and other miscellaneous goods.

Does anyone know what the deal is behind these outfits who travel from city to city to sell what I suspect is second-rate merchandise? Is it merchandise left over from stores that have gone out of business or is it a way for companies to resell their returned merchandise that’s supposedly been fixed up to be saleable again?

Just out of curiosity I went to one of these sales a few years ago and when I was looking at some VCRs I noticed a stack of them with REFURBISHED stamped onto each one of the boxes. Other merchandise had CLASS B STOCK or something like that on the box. Something in the back of my mind told me not to buy anything and to buy from a local retailer instead. Several years ago a friend of mine had bought a tape deck from one of these sales and sure enough, the box was labeled REFURBISHED. The deck worked most of the time, though sometimes the auto-reverse would get hung up and it would keep switching the tape back and forth. This further confirmed my suspicions about the quality of the merchandise at these sales. At my last job a guy told me about a speaker box for his truck that he bought at one of these sales. He said it was utter crap and the speakers came loose from the box’s housing. He felt that he had been ripped off. A couple other people have told me that they’ve gotten some fantastic deals at one of these sales.

Has anyone bought anything from these traveling liquidation sales? What has been your experience with such purchases?

We have one once a year at the Monterey Fairgrounds. They corral all the people into a small line so that they have to walk near a table which has forms on it that you complete to enter a contest. You put your name & address & maybe the phone number on it. I didn’t do them, but I bet those suckers who did got tons of spam.

All the electronics that I saw that were new cost more than local stores too.