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Auction of Overstock.com's return items rakes in over $150,000

Published December 23, 2011 5:03 pm

Merchandise • Public participation generates bids; firm plans more events.
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Overstock.com, the online discount retailer, said opening the auction of its return merchandise to the public two weeks ago proved to be such a success that it will consider similar events in the future.

"We don't know when they will be held, but we plan on having more public auctions," said Roger Johnson, spokesman for the Salt Lake City-based company.

In the past, Overstock.com used a variety of methods to sell its returned merchandise, including private sales to liquidators and offering products through its outlet stores. But the auction Dec. 14, conducted by Erklens & Olson Auctioneers, was the first time that the public was invited to participate.

A lot of people attended.

Auctioneer Rob Olson said more than 600 potential bidders signed up prior to the sale to vie for 307 pallets stacked high with returned merchandise that ranged from furniture to outdoor equipment and small appliances to clothing.

"I really think that television shows such as 'Storage Wars' and 'Auction Hunters' have placed the idea in the public's minds that attending auctions can be a good way to find deals," Olson said. "And I think business owners increasingly are recognizing auctions as a good way to liquidate excess inventory."

Olson said of the 307 pallets that were offered all but two were purchased. And those two remained only because the high bidders didn't show up afterward.

The auction generated in excess of $150,000 for Overstock.com, with the average price paid for a pallet at $500, Olson said.

"The most expensive pallet, which was stacked with boxes of women's dresses, sold for $1,800, the least expensive for $250. It was stacked with housewares."

steve@sltrib.com

Twitter: @OberbeckBiz