ReUse Program auctions rare and antique U items

University scientist Jay Maher looks over items to bid on at the University ReUse Auction on Saturday.

University scientist Jay Maher looks over items to bid on at the University ReUse Auction on Saturday.

Miranda Taylor

Most students are not in the market for a dental chair circa 1960, but University of Minnesota ReUse Program coordinator Chris Hruza knows who is. âÄúPeople that do woodworking will be interested in this,âÄù Hruza said Friday as he placed a hand on a chair, auction item number 19. âÄúIt has a really precise leveling system.âÄù Hruza spoke from six years of experience directing the ReUse auction. The chair and 47 other dated items pulled from University classrooms, offices and laboratories went under the gavel last week at the ReUse ProgramâÄôs first auction of the year. âÄúEverything here is functional,âÄù Hruza said of the recycling centerâÄôs contents. At thrift-store prices, all of the profits garnered from the warehouseâÄôs sales go directly back into the UniversityâÄôs recycling program. Altogether, the auction drew an estimated $3,000 to $4,000 for the ReUse Program, Hruza said. Held between two and four times a year, ReUseâÄôs sealed-bid auctions are intended to showcase rare and antiquated objects and University cast-offs. The most unusual stuff that comes through ReUseâÄôs door are set aside for auctions like this one. Other outdated items go to the warehouse shelves where they await potential use in other University departments. Past ReUse auctions have seen everything from large-animal moving equipment, courtesy of the College of Veterinary Medicine, to an autopsy saw once contributed by the Program of Mortuary Science. Hruza said the latter sold, though it was not widely bid upon. Outside of displaying unique finds, the auction serves as a way to determine an itemâÄôs worth. The amounts people are willing to pay for auction items influence how the rest of the items in the ReUse warehouse are priced year to year. âÄúWeâÄôre letting capitalism determine how much something is actually worth,âÄù Hruza said of the system. The ReUse Program as a whole assists 250 University buildings in getting rid of unwanted desk chairs, file cabinets and shelving, as well as acquiring used items for their facilities. While saving the University money, the program keeps office furnishings and departmental equipment out of the trash. Charter schools, the Minneapolis Public School District and small business owners all come to ReUse interested in getting a good deal on items they would find much more expensive elsewhere. Students come to the warehouse too, although, not usually until after they have moved out of the dorms. Normally, the ReUse warehouse is open to paying customers only on Thursdays. However, the auction kept its doors open to the public Thursday through Saturday this past week in an effort to bring out more auction-goers. Despite the extended hours, FridayâÄôs turnout was sparse. According to a ReUse warehouse volunteer, Thursday saw an abundance of auction participants. With only 125 bids cast, the auction fell short of the expected 250 to 300 bids. Some items received more bids than others. âÄúMicroscopes are always popular,âÄù Hruza said. And sure enough, Friday, two University Enterprise Laboratories employees decided to cast a joint-bid for a microscope deemed too outdated for University use. Among the 48 items up for bid were tablet armchairs, toilets and sinks. Higher-grossing items included a portable PC system that drew in $290 and an oak bookcase that sold for $350. By contrast, none of the sinks or toilets were sold. The next warehouse auction can be expected around August or September.