I use computers, computer parts and other gadgets to create art work as a hobby. Being an artist, I have a number of unique ways to secure the materials that I need to create my projects without spending a whole lot of money. What I find even more amazing is that many of the things that I receive are still in perfect working order. Here are some of my secrets at getting computers and gadgets for next to nothing.
I should point out that these methods of getting computers and gadgets are more for those who enjoy building their own stuff. For the average consumer, these methods can be used in some circumstances, but are probably much more beneficial to the person who likes to tinker around with electronics.
Public Storage Shed Auctions: This is my secret places to pick up electronics. With all the different auctions out there, public storage shed auctions still don’t attract the crowds like other auctions do. When people don’t pay their public storage fees, the storage company will auction off the items inside storage shed to recoup their money. You can find these auctions advertised in your local newspaper. Since there usually aren’t a lot of people who attend and stuff is often sold by the box instead of individually, there can be some great deals on gadgets and electronics.
Dumpster Dive Electronic Store Trash: One of the best places to pick up spare parts and even quite a few perfectly good gadgets is in your local electronic store dumpster. I am able to get access to the dumpsters without drawing attention to myself by simply explaining that I’m an artist looking for materials for a project…this will get me free access to search the dumpsters 9 out of 10 times. While a lot of the stuff is unusable (except for my art), quite a bit is still in perfect working order or only needs minor repairs.
Colleges Break Times: One of the times of the year to pick up gadgets and other electronic products is right before students leave for their summer break and right before the end of school all around college campuses. Never underestimate what college kids whose parents are paying for everything are willing to toss out. You can find a surprising number of perfectly good gadgets and other electronics for the price of gas driving your car around town.
Freecycle: While you’re not going to be able to find the latest and greatest gadgets or computers here, Freecycle can be an excellent place to pick up older models if you are into rebuilding or scrapping computers and gadgets for their parts. The only costs that you’ll have is a gas it takes to get to the place where you picked up the item.
Garage Sales: Garage sales are an excellent place to pick up spare parts and older model gadgets and computers. Most people are trying to get rid of the stuff so prices are next to nothing and you can even find a gem now and again. Well worth stopping buy when you come across one while driving around town.
Thrift Shops: Thrift shops are similar to garage sales in that you can find a lot of spare parts and older gadgets, but you’ll also come across some great deals of newer electronics every once in awhile. They are certainly a great place for those who like to build and tinker with gadgets. Older machines and spare parts can be found year round, but your best bet on getting an under-priced newer model is in late December when people are clearing out items from their homes and giving them to charity for tax purposes.
Flea Markets: Flea markets can be a great place to pick up old replacement parts, but a lot depends on the flea market’s character. You won’t find anything new, but you will find a lot to rebuild and tinker with if that is what you’re looking for.
Side of the Road: Depending where you live, you can find an amazing amount of stuff left on the side of the road outside houses who are looking to get rid of computers and other large gadgets. Because there is often a charge to get these taken to the dump or hauled away, they would just rather leave them for someone to pick up at no cost.
Government Auctions: Government auctions can be a great place to pick up and gadgets for a fraction of their normal price. The key here is that you know what you want and what the price of that item should be. While there can be some great deals from government auctions, there also are a lot of people who don’t know much about auctions that attend. If you get caught up in the bidding process, the gadget might cost a lot more than it ever should. That being said, there are a lot of opportunities to get boxes of used parts as well as newer quality gadgets at discount prices.
Bankrupt Business Auctions: Most people discount bankrupt business auctions because the lots being sold are usually quantity that isn’t necessarily appropriate for an individual. The key is is that many businesses that go bankrupt have only been around a couple of years if not less, so the equipment that they have is quite new. Even if you aren’t looking to buy in bulk, it can still be well worth your time to attend these events.
Most of the people who purchase at business auctions are resellers. While the lots are big, they are ultimately going to be resold individually in most cases. If there is a gadget or computer that you are interested in, you can often approach the person who won the lot and make an offer on an individual item out of it. Most of these people want to make their money back as quickly as possible, so you can often get incredible deals by simply asking. It doesn’t work all the time, but it works enough that it can be well worth your while.
While most of these places aren’t where you would normally consider getting computer or gadgets, it’s for this specific reason that you can get great deals (and sometimes free). These places are certainly not for everyone, but for those who enjoy building, experimenting and taking apart things, these are great places to find stuff to give you plenty of fun on the cheap.