Shopping locally this holiday season?
Why not try the Washington State Surplus Operations retail store?
Located at 7511 New Market St. SW, Tumwater, the store is a treasure trove of office supplies, electronics, furniture and other items.
Surplus Operations Manager Tomy Mollas said the program's top goal is sustainability, and keeping items out of landfills. That's why Surplus recycles or reuses nearly all of what it receives from state agencies, schools and other public organizations.
Some of the items in the retail store are still brand-new, and feature their original packaging. In many cases, the stories behind the items make them interesting, such as the antique wooden beds that came from Western State Hospital.
And then there are the pocketknives, cheese slicers and other kitchen gadgets seized at airports from the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). Surplus Inventory Control Specialist Jim Pollard estimates that his office processes a whopping 100,000 corkscrew bottle openers a year that were confiscated by TSA workers.
Prices are determined by taking an average "sold for" price for a similar item on eBay, and cutting that in half, Jim said.
The store is a popular stop for online re-sellers and bargain hunters, alike.
"We actually have a line of people every morning in front of the store," Mollas said. "Our inventory is ever-changing."
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. You can also snag great deals 24/7 on the Surplus online auction site.
Surplus Operations' retail store in Tumwater is a fun place to search for affordable, unique gifts this holiday season. The deals are amazing — but limited to stock on hand. Here's a sampling of some recent great finds.
Stuff a stocking (or a toolbox) with hand tools and power gizmos, ranging from $1 to $50 each. All power tools are tested to make sure they operate.
Let a loved one stitch up some fun with an Elna electric sewing machine and dust cover, $29.50 each.
Step one in keeping that New Year's fitness resolution? Adding some weights to the home gym, priced at only $1 a pound.
Bring a corkscrew bottle opener as a host gift to every party this holiday season, 5 for $1.
Share the gift of music with bongo drums, $19.50 each; vintage cellos, $69 each; xylophones, $20 each, and full-size pianos (not pictured) are $49.50 each.
Save big on electronics, including 24-inch computer monitors, $75 (also currently buy one get one free); 27-inch TV/VCR/DVD combos $35; and HP color printers, $35 each. All electronics are tested to ensure they work.
Gift the gift of safe travel with tire chains, $10 a set.
Drive over the mountains and through the woods on a set of four nearly-new studded tires, $129.50-$179.50.
Need a Secret Santa gift? Pick up a pocket knife, $1-$25 each.
Impress your kid, and skip the two-year service contract with a lightly used iPhone 5 or 6, ranging from $45-$120.
Unlock hours of fun for a young scientist with a classroom-quality microscope, $20 each.