Mesa State sells kitchen equipment, lighting, even urinals from student center

Almost everything goes, cheaply

Buster Cattles, cowboy hat, auctions off equipment Saturday from the Student Center at Mesa State College before the building is taken down. The college will be building an updated center.

A massive industrial-sized stainless steel appliance that steamed vegetables and fish for countless Mesa State College students probably since the 1960s sold for $20.

A projector and a screen that professors had used for presentations sold for $5, while three urinals pulled from restrooms at the W.W. Campbell Student Center were auctioned off Saturday for the rock bottom price of $15.

“This is a giveaway,” said one woman who was shopping for restaurant equipment, which she resells. For $25, she had just purchased a deep fryer that holds two baskets.

As the college prepares to rebuild a student center on the site, about 80 people looking to buy and resell equipment, or sell items to a scrap yard, took advantage of reasonable prices on items from a building that was the center of student life at the college for the past 50 years.

“Making money wasn’t really the goal,” college spokeswoman Dana Nunn said of the auction of the building’s fixtures and equipment. “The real goal is to keep these things out of the landfill.”

Crumbling tile and sheetrock lay on the floor where doors had been removed and strewn on the ground. Enough desks to fill a classroom, folding tables, lab desks and massive overhead light fixtures, which had been placed on pallets and secured with clear wrap,
crammed what was Liff Auditorium. On the auction block, too, were a retractable electrical door that kept Jazzman’s coffee shop safe at night, a Wells Fargo sign that hung above the automated teller machine and a tampon machine that was in the women’s restroom.

Allan Ladlante, for example, purchased a whole room full of stuff, including light fixtures, four sturdy doors and shelving,  for $5.

Just last weekend, mathematics and engineering student Matt Whittlesey had been sitting in the room during a conference.

Whittlesey, who said he’s been to numerous auctions, said it seems equipment at school auctions “always goes so cheap.”

“For $5, I couldn’t buy that much lumber,” he said of the room’s shelving.

Whittlesey, who was at the auction helping his cousin Richard Malcolm haul away items, said he nearly kicked himself for not buying two fire doors that spanned about 20 feet. The doors would sell for about $2,000 each, but no one purchased them even at a $5 bid.

About 90 percent of the items sold, thanks to auctioneer Buster Cattles, who was decked in blue jeans, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. Cattles started the bidding for most big ticket items in the $100 to $200 range. For many other items, bidding raised only $20 to $50 and dropped as low as $5.

One woman, who didn’t want to be identified, said she was concerned about an excess of tables, desks and other equipment that looked new and could probably be reused at area schools. The woman, who is starting a restaurant, scored a walk-in refrigerator for $100, an item that would normally cost thousands.

“The waste,” she said, among a room filled with desks and light fixtures.

Nunn said officials from School District 51 and Habitat for Humanity are welcome to look through the items and take what they need. Often, schools don’t take the college up on offers to pick up used items, she said.

A company is recycling the center’s ceiling tiles. The carpet has been recycled by another company. Money earned in the sale will go back into the college’s general fund, Nunn said.

Everyone who purchased items Saturday will have to pick up items by Wednesday.

Demolition is slated to begin Thursday.

A new two-story student center will be better able to handle the college’s 6,000-plus students, and a parking garage will add about 300 parking spots, Nunn said.


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