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Canada

Feds divest of wagon wheels, balaclavas and G7 brooms at GCSurplus sale

Donna Radmore didn’t find what she wanted most at Saturday’s GCSurplus cash-and-carry sale of federal government flotsam and jetsam — the Rockland public support worker was really hoping to find a new prime minister — but she did leave with a pair of arctic boots for $25 and four pairs of thick wool socks, at a dollar a pair, for her husband, Wayne, so the morning wasn’t a complete waste.

“It was worth it,” she said, “even without the new prime minister.

“But I’m sure I’ll get that, too.”

Mind you, the socks might have come in handy earlier in the day. The sale, the first of its kind in four decades, attracted so many people that the lineup to get into the Hawthorne Road warehouse started to form at about 7 a.m., an hour before the doors opened. By eight o’clock, according to GCSurplus director Patrick Kelly, well over 1,000 people were queued to root through the assorted duffel bags, skis, camera equipment, satellite phones, flashlights, radio receiver/transmitters, balaclavas, aluminum mess kits, hammers, GPS units and other federal excess, in search of a bargain or two.

Shoppers check out deals at the GCSurplus government surplus sale on Saturday. Patrick Doyle / OTT

Those who arrived at 8 a.m. found a two-hour wait to get inside, as newcomers were only allowed in when earlier bargain-hunters left.

Some came with an idea in mind of what they wanted, while others showed up just to see what was for sale. Kelly said the size of the crowd of shoppers was much larger than expected, and, as for the more popular items, well, you can just never predict.

Among the hottest-selling items were the nearly 300 red Oskar brooms and dustpans that were flying out of there at $5 apiece, and that was without shoppers knowing of their curious provenance: They were bought, but not used, by the RCMP for last year’s G7 summit in Quebec City. (The broom can be bought at Canadian Tire for $11.99.)

Another item to quickly sell out, perhaps not surprising given Ottawa’s newly found ranking among cities facing annual natural catastrophes, were the 20 or so unused portable generators, normally $1,000 at retail, selling for $300 each. “They were gone in the first 45 minutes,” Kelly said.

Army boots, clothing and tools were also snapped up quickly.

Adrienne Seel considers buying a laundry mangle to use for an art project at the GCSurplus government surplus sale on Saturday. Patrick Doyle / OTT

Among the items to find less traction were skis, at $20 to $25 a pair, the lone Hewlett-Packard 8560E spectrum analyzer for $1,000 (a far cry less than the $2,000-3,000 used ones are commanding on eBay), or the pair of wagon wheels — one metal, the other of wood (perhaps an errant DND purchase?) — for $100 each.

But, again, even the oddest items were earning some looks. Adrienne Seel spent some time examining the antique clothes mangle offered for $100. An artist, she considered converting it to use in relief printing, but when she couldn’t haggle the price down, she decided against buying it, opting instead for a $5 sleeping bag liner.

“Used mangles in really good condition go for about $300, but this one is rusted. But it was worth coming to take a look. Maybe someone who wants it more will buy it.”

Gatineau high school history and science teacher Kaitlan Robertson stood beside a stack of boxes of old Department of Energy, Mines and Resources 9”-square aerial photographic glass plates, gauging if they were interesting enough to part with $80 for a box of about 10.

“They could be great decoration pieces,” she said. “They’re neat, and I like historical stuff.”

Shoppers check out deals at the GCSurplus government surplus sale on Saturday. Patrick Doyle / OTT

If nothing else, though, she and her husband had each snapped up rain pants for $20 a pair. “Good for field trips.”

Meanwhile, as they stood in the checkout line, Kasia Drobnik’s sons, Antoni, 8, and Damian, 12, were already wearing the winter vests their mother had found for them for just $5 each, while the family’s camping kit was also augmented Saturday by a sleeping-bag liner and a $20 cook stove. The Bosch Pho 100 electric planer she found for $20 was also a great bargain. Overall, the 90-minute wait to get in, with the three of them huddled under an IKEA bag to stay dry, was, she said, well worth it.

As for a used or surplus prime minister, who knows? Perhaps there’ll be one at the next sale.

bdeachman@postmedia.com

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