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NNSL Photo

Robert Bouchard marks the item up for bids at a government auction in Fort Simpson on Saturday. Close to 100 people turned out for the event. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

Do I hear $25?

Many deals, some good some not so good at auction

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (July 25/03) - Mitch Gast admitted his wife was shocked when he informed her that they were the proud new owners of a Zamboni on Saturday.

Gast broke the news when he went home to get the cheque book. He paid $1,200 for the hulking machine, one of the more peculiar items available at a government auction over the weekend.

The Zamboni, which is more than 30 years old, features a few upgrades and possesses a Volkswagen engine. Gast figures the hydraulics alone are worth $10,000, so he's expecting to make a profit by reselling it as is or for parts.

"It's called a self-directed property tax return," he said, smiling.

There were no Stradivarius violins or fine china to be found at the Public Works compound. This auction consisted mostly of used office equipment, aging furniture and second-hand vehicles. One keen observer joked that if someone were to buy all the service vehicles, that person could start his or her own little town.

At one point, auctioneer Wally Schumann acknowledged that not every item was of value.

One lot contained a visibly broken oscillating fan and a garbage can.

"Put the fan in the garbage can and you're all set to go," Schumann said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

Fred Punch came from Trout Lake specifically for the auction. He was looking for generators but left empty-handed.

Douglas and Yvonne Norwegian travelled from Sambaa Deh park. They were eyeing a pressure washer and wound up taking it home for $75.

Four pallets of computers went for $60.

Four fire extinguishers fetched a measly $3.

A sewage truck attracted the highest bid of the day: $10,000.

While some purchases may have seemed like a good idea at the time, they don't always turn out to be practical.

John Hazenberg noted that some things he bought at a previous auction have been collecting dust for eight years.