So for the last several years, you've obliged my babbling about auctions. I would much prefer to spend a morning amongst a group of people bidding on everything from furniture to doorstops — there isn't anything you can't find. Although I've spoken mainly of personal property real estate auctions, I've left out one major source — commercial auctions. Commercial auctions are a slightly different animal than personal property and real estate auctions. At the latter, you'll usually find old housewares that might need a coat of spray paint to freshen up or items that have long since been loved or used.
On the other hand, commercial auctions are usually made up of items that come from recently closed establishments. Since things were recently being used, it means that not only to they usually work, they're also clean and well-maintained. For instance, this morning my husband and I brought home a stackable washer and dryer unit. Usually such things go for just under $1000, but we scored ours for under $100! Awesome right? They're newer units that were only used to wash towels and aprons and even have eco friendly settings. They aren't monolithic or will wash 57 pairs of jeans like some advertise, but for us and especially for the price we paid — they're perfect.
In the past we've also bid on and won: prep tables, lighting, chairs, structural elements and more — most of which was purchased for literal pennies. You never know what you'll find. It could be fine china, trash cans, or fixtures for your home. It's sure to give you that "hip industrial feel" without the un-hip price tag!
Most cities have a commercial auction site or two, so check your local warehouse area (usually they need a large place to store items being auctioned) for flyers, google or even pull out the phone book, we're here to say it's worth your time!
Image: Flickr member ann-dabney licensed for use by Creative Commons