Product Sourcing: The Skinny on Government Auctions

Are government auctions really a good source for purchasing products for resale? The answer to that is they can be, but you have to know what you are doing.

Where do government auctions get their products?

Government auctions can be held online, live ‘in-person’ or sealedbid. They acquire their products from two main sources:

  • Goods they seized due to criminal activities or delinquent taxes.
  • Goods an agency of the government has but no longer needs.

According to Ian Aronovich, president and CEO of (, the reason that the auctions can provide such great deals is that “the government either attained [the items] for free or cheap and because the government does not have a traditional profit like a corporation does.” They’ll sell to the highest bidder even if they’re getting less than market value.

Product Sourcing Tip 1: Research before you bid

If you source products through government auctions to resell online make sure you know the market value of the product before you bid. The key to not overbidding is to research the items ahead of time. Most government auctions will publish a list of available items two-to-three weeks prior to the auction. And that is when you need to start your homework.

Blue Books are a great source for researching product value. There are price guides out there for basically anything you are interested in. Some of the most popular ones are:

Product Sourcing Tip 2: Set a bidding limit

Once you figure out the market value of the items that interest you, just subtract the profit you hope to make. The result is your top bid for the item. You need to know the maximum amount you are willing to bid on any item before you go to the auction, or you may get caught up into paying much more than an item is worth. Know your maximum bids and stick to them.

PEC Staff
PEC Staff
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