Austin- Traveling across the Lone Star State is a great way to spend your free time, but going from Orange to El Paso is a bit faster if you fly. We all know the rules and regulations that go into flying high: No knives, no liquids, and no weapons. Seems simple, right? Well, turns out tons of items are turned over to T.S.A. each day, and where they end up is well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.
In a huge warehouse next to Austin’s airport, you’ll find a frenzy of people looking to find a deal. We’re at the State Surplus Property Storefront in Austin.
“Well, it’s different everyday,” Jeffrey Neely said.
Kristy Fierro leads the charge on this large sale that’s put on by the state.
“This place is where all state assets go to be retired, so everything from a state agency that they no longer have a need for comes to us,” Kristy said. “We either transfer it to another state agency, or we sell it to the public.”
The large inventory of lamps, desks, chairs and even cars is only part of the reason people drive for miles to come to this place. While the bigger items move quickly, it’s the smaller things that really fly off the shelves.
“We also dispose of the willfully surrendered airport property that is taken or surrendered at a T.S.A. checkpoint here in the state of Texas,” Kristy said. “That’s when things get really weird.”
If you’ve ever lost something in the airport, accidentally put your pocket knife in your carry on or had problematic paraphernalia while pushing your way through security, chances are it ended up here.
“Yes, we get a little bit of everything … from knives to machetes to golf clubs,” Kristy said. “You name it. Snakes in a bottle. Tools. Bats. All kinds of fun stuff.”
Wait…wait…wait…did she say snakes in a bottle? It seems cobra and scorpion infused liquor is looked down upon. I mean who drinks this stuff?
“No rhyme or reason, man,” Kristy said.
While the snake known as Surplussss is not for sale, there’s plenty of other things that are.
“Our inventory changes all of the time,” Kristy said. “We don’t even know what it is half of the time.”
This large stockpile of peculiar items includes letter openers, bottle openers, and of course, knives.
“We sell thousands every year, and we receive thousands and thousands more,” Kristy said. “It’s Texas, man. Knives are very popular.”
You can find plenty of knives dedicated to Texas.
“Started digging,” Larry Mackey said. “Just start digging, and I guarantee you’re gonna find something that, if it’s unique or it’s something like, ‘You know, I could use this,’ it’s definitely worth it.”
All this stuff comes from each and every airport in Texas. Houston and Dallas make monthly deliveries to the Surplus Store. New inventory comes in so fast and furious that the fine working folks here have a hard time with the workflow.
“So now we’re gonna take you into what we refer to as ‘The Cage,’” Kirsty said. “This is our primary sorting area for the property that comes from the airports. So it comes in huge containers full of random items, and they have to dump it out here, and we make this makeshift little table here to kind of catch it all … to try to figure out what it is. So they sort out the knives, the tools into that type, and then we do a little bit more research on some of the other items. “
What’s crazy is some of the items you’ll find that get surrender to security.
“Just for the kind of shock factor of everything that we get, Jeff said. “Doing the mundane gets old for me, and I definitely like the unexpectability of what I do here. It’s very entertaining.”
While people who peruse the peculiar and purposeful can get the perfect deal, the folks that get a first hand look at these far out finds can’t.
“Personally, we cannot purchase anything,” Kristy said. “There’s a specific ethics statute in law about us purchasing. You can get in a lot of trouble, so no.”
The good news is that all of the stuff they sell pays the bills and even brings in a little extra cash that goes back to the state of Texas.
“So, what they don’t know about the place is that we are self-funded, and everything that we sell goes to support our operations or eventually goes back to the general revenue fund,” Kristy said. “It is re-appropriated back to the state agencies.”
If you’re looking for that perfect something for that special someone, you simply never know what you’ll find at the State Surplus Property Storefront making it well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“Perfect place to come to before you kick the bucket,” Larry said.