Chartiers Valley Schools District cleans out unused items with online auction

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Those surplus items that were sitting in the basement tunnels underneath Chartiers Valley High School and Middle School are going, going, gone.

And the school district has collected some money in the process.

The items, which included everything from generators to kitchen equipment to student desks and more, were sold at an online auction conducted Sunday by Sherman Hostetter Auctioneers of Beaver County.

"It went well," said third-generation auctioneer Matt Hostetter, 28. "Now the tunnels are pretty well cleaned out."

"We sold about 75 percent of the items in the auction. As a result of what was sold, we collected about $20,000," said Kara Droney, director of communications for the district.

"The prices were better than we expected," Mr. Hostetter said, noting that more than 17,000 computer users viewed Chartiers Valley's auction from as far away as Japan, Hawaii, the United Kingdom, Africa and Chile, and buyers were from all over the country.

Chartiers Valley superintendent Brian White suggested holding the auction to clear out the tunnels, and the school board approved, said Chuck McCartney, public relations coordinator for the district.

Items for sale included furniture, filing cabinets, art supplies, cash registers, televisions, kitchen equipment and tools. A piano was for sale, too.

Some hot-selling items included pottery wheels, restaurant equipment and food service equipment, Mr. Hostetter said. One of the electric saws sold for more than $730, and an ice machine went for more than $600.

Mr. Hostetter, who receives a percentage of the auction money, learned his trade from his family and by attending the Reppert School of Auctioneering in Indianapolis when he was 15.

Online auctions are a good way to sell unneeded items, he said, because people can participate from the comfort of their homes.

Sellers typically make more money with online auctions, he noted, and auctioneers like them because tents don't have to be set up and weather is not an issue.

But there's much more to setting up an auction than just talking fast, Mr. Hostetter said.

"There's a lot more going on behind the scenes," he said, noting that for an online auction, all items must be photographed and the sale site must be set up to display the items on the computer.

Prospective bidders must be at least 18 years old and register for a bidder's number by providing their name, address and credit card number. Interested people may view the merchandise in person on a specified date.

Online auctions have been available since the mid-1990s. Hostetter Auctioneers got involved with them about five years ago.

For school districts and other public entities, auctions are "a great way to liquidate things that are literally sitting there," he said, adding that auctions are a boon for recycling, too.

Hostetter Auctioneers has conducted auctions for Mountain State University in West Virginia, Community College of Beaver County, Pittsburgh Public Schools and other local school districts including Ambridge Area, Montour, Quaker Valley and North Hills.


Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer:


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