Surplus Store F.A.Q.

UW Surplus Store Frequently Asked Questions

When are you open to the public?
We are open to the public every Tuesday, all year-round, from noon to 6pm unless otherwise noted. We are open to UW departments, government agencies, and non-profit groups Mondays, Wednesdays - Fridays 12:30 - 3:30pm (and on Tuesdays, 12 - 6pm). Pick-ups of already-purchased items are Mondays - Fridays 8am - 3:30pm.

What types of common items do you offer in the store?
The items we tend to get in on a fairly regular basis include: desks, tables, chairs, file cabinets, keyboards, computer mice, file holders, binders, lab glass, office supplies, overhead projectors, slide projectors, LCD projectors, exam tables, microscopes, computers (w/o hard drives), monitors, laptop bags, and TVs. Seriously, you’ve never seen so many binders in your life—why pay retail when ours are .25 - .50 each?!

What types of uncommon items do you offer in the store?
Whoa, Nelly, have we had some unusual stuff come through our hallowed doors. We have been known to offer: trucks, boats, airplanes, decommissioned police cruisers, smoothie machines, harpsichords, incubators, wooden card catalogs, football shoes, antique electronics, a giant foam comet, a submarine, and an enormous bean bag chair that we still swear looked like the world’s largest potato ever grown. You literally never know what might enter our circus of the fabulous.

Do you accept donations?
We love lobster and chocolate chip cookies, but we are unable to accept even those items as donations. We take in surplus items strictly from UW departments and medical centers.

Wow, so I want to come in and get my shop on! How does the UW Surplus Store work?
All the items we offer are in the Store are flat-priced. An item’s price is indicated by a large, 2-part green tag with a code number & price or on a small, yellow sticker-tag for smaller items. Every once in awhile a miscellaneous item will not have a tag, and prices will be posted on signage nearby. If an item has a green tag, remove the bottom half of the tag and bring it to the sales counter to purchase the item. If an item is missing the bottom half of the green tag, it has already been sold.

Where does this stuff come from, and how often do you get it?
The UW is committed to contributing toward a greener world, and we try to let nothing go to waste if it can be reused, repurposed, or recycled. We take in surplus items from all UW departments and medical facilities. When a department doesn’t need something anymore, they send it to us. We receive items every day, so our stock of items is always changing & evolving.

How do I find out what’s for sale?
You may check out the selection of items shown weekly here on our website—although what is shown on the website is but a small sampling of our total inventory on any given day. If you are hunting for a specific item please email us at or give us a call at 206-685-1573. But your best bet will always be to come pay us a visit on Store days each Tuesday (we also have Public Stores on Auction Saturdays). Too, why not sign up for our weekly email newsletter? It’s a great way to get the latest info on what’s come in! You may sign up for the email newsletter HERE.

May I pay with a credit card?
Yes! We accept Visa, Master Card, and Discover credit & debit cards as well as cash. We do not accept personal checks, Husky Card accounts, or American Express. If you are purchasing for a UW department you may provide us with your department’s budget number.

I want to haggle over the price of This Incredible Thing; will that do me any good?
If doing so makes you smile, that will be the main benefit, but as our boss likes to say, we operate on a “No Dicker Sticker” system—we are bound by agreements with university departments and our stringent team of accountants to adhere to every price tag as marked. If an item has remained unsold for some time that’s when we mark items down. Too, we have been known to place items in certain categories on sale from time to time. As a visit will show you, our prices are really low already, and if you can get a better deal somewhere else, you’re probably a burglar.

How do I register as a non-profit?
UW Surplus requires two documents for purchasing as a non-profit: a copy of your 501(c)3 paperwork and a note on organization letterhead, signed by an administrator, naming the people authorized to make purchases on your group’s behalf. Please click here to find out more.

May I call you on Tuesday and have you look things up for me like a personal shopper?
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? But: no. As we’re not allowed to put items on hold for customers + we’re entirely first-come, first-served + on Public Store Tuesdays we’re scrambling to get as many new items onto the sales floor for you as possible = we ask that you not call us to personal shop for you over the phone on Tuesdays. We love that some of you travel great distances to see us, so we recommend leaving early if you have your heart set on an item! If you are calling simply to learn if an item you saw on the website has already sold, and it’s Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, that’s totally fine!

May I purchase items over the phone on Public Store Tuesdays?
We are happy to process credit card payments by phone after 2pm on Public Store Tuesdays. Typically by that time, the in-person queue has died down enough for us to have a staff member available to ring a sale for you by phone. We can then email a copy of the receipt to you as well.

I’ve just bought the Coolest Thing Ever, but it’s really big—is there any help available to load this into my vehicle?
You did find the Coolest Thing Ever, congratulations! And yes, we have helpers available to assist you with large items. We have wheeled dollies to help move the big stuff.

How long do I have to pick something up after I buy it?
Your Coolest Thing Ever must be removed within one week. Items left after one week may be re-tagged and re-sold without refund, so it’s in your best interest to arrange for a way to have your item(s) removed in time!

Word on the street is that from time to time you sell bikes—when does that happen?
The street is wise. Currently, we receive most of our bikes from UWPD in monthly batches of 10 - 20 bikes at a time. These bikes are then flat-priced for sale via the Surplus Store, which is open to everyone each Tuesday.

So what do you mean by “repurposing”?
Some items we offer may have served their original purposes into obsolescence, which to our way of thinking is an opportunity for new life & new purposes. We love to see how things purchased at the Surplus Store are given new uses! We have seen old boat propellers turned into hanging lights, wooden card catalogs refinished as striking interior design accents, used lab coats turned into scarecrows, and old silverware turned into amazing jewelry.

Are you open on weekends?
The UW Surplus Store is open on Auction Saturdays (we have between 6 and 8 auctions a year) from 8am - 3:30pm. Auction dates are posted on the “Surplus Auctions” link.

Do goats ever visit your store?
Yes. And we do not kid. We do, however, pun.

Why are you so awesome?
We love what we do here at UW Surplus, and we enjoy meeting the colorful cast of characters who often become our regulars. We are actively engaged in ensuring a greener UW and in pursuing our core values of “reuse, repurpose, recycle.” We love it when a new visitor finds that Coolest Thing Ever at an amazingly low price, and we especially love learning about how the items we sell are given new lives through creative repurposing. When you visit us we hope you’ll take the opportunity to get to know us, and get to know your fellow bargain hounds, because we are pretty awesome.

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