A Cheap Way To Furnish Your Home

Are you in the market for a computer? How about a dining room set? Want to buy a couch, some chairs, or a recliner? There is a way to get rock-bottom prices on big-ticket items… the state of Wisconsin has a ton of surplus items they are practically giving away, and you don’t have to live in the Dairy State to take advantage of the unbelievable deals.

Dining room tables for $15 and new computers with monitors for less than $100. Cheap stuff in great condition… how can you beat that? More importantly, where can you find a deal like that? “The SWAP Shop” in Madison, Wisconsin. “SWAP” stands for surplus with a purpose and that’s exactly what the items are–surplus goods from various state agencies.

Manager Tim Sell says you can find almost anything at the shop. “We’ve have rat guillotines, cameras, filing cabinets and things from the state capitol that are just odd.” For example, the shop recently sold the first prototype of the Hubble telescope.

While some come to shop for home furnishings, other customers show up to spend money so they can make even more money. A number of college students (Madison, home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a huge college town) come into “The SWAP Shop,” pick up computer parts, lab pieces and other unusual items and resell them on ebay.

But, you don’t have to travel to Wisconsin to get in on the action. “The SWAP Shop” also runs online auctions, which feature everything from musical instruments, to beds, even farm equipment.

Then there’s another website: wisconsinsurplus.com where you can find cars, boats and more. Department of Natural Resources boats are a hot commodity as well as printing equipment, motorcycles and jewelry. In addition, Wisconsin Surplus also handles some federal auctions that feature scissors and knives that were confiscated at airport security checkpoints. The site also sells rare coins, antiques and sports cars. Bottom line—if the government needs to get rid of it, you can probably get it—cheap.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.