For Sale At UW Surplus: Size 18 Football Shoes, Creepy Dolls, A Spittoon

Dec 9, 2013

Eric Wahl with a potholder from Namibia
Eric Wahl with a potholder from Namibia
Credit Ross Reynolds

When someone wants to get rid of anything at the University of Washington – and seriously, anything – it typically gets turned over to the UW Surplus Store.

Sixty-five thousand items end up there every year, and most of them get resold to other departments at the university or to the public on Tuesday afternoons. KUOW’s Ross Reynolds recently went holiday shopping at the Surplus Store with manager Teresa Seyfried and Eric Wahl, the office program coordinator.

Most of the items are what you would expect – office chairs, fans, get-well-soon vases and coffee makers – but there are also cowboy hats, plastic fruit, size 18 football shoes and a potholder from Namibia. 

And scary dolls. Creepily, lots of dolls. 

“There was one we referred to as Rosemary’s Baby because it had eyes that kind of moved but not reliably," Wahl said. “And inevitably, they moved when you weren’t touching it. We just sat it on the shelf and pleaded with someone to just please buy it. We were concerned about turning off the lights in the warehouse with it there.”

We don't ask questions, we're just glad they buy them.

Someone did eventually buy it, Wahl said.

Twice there have been spittoons, Wahl said, although “that may have been the same one that came in twice.”  

And there have been CPR dummies.

Who buys CPR dummies?

“We don’t ask questions,” Wahl said. “We’re just glad they buy them.”

Currently for sale are items that resemble large pitchforks, or perhaps tridents. For someone looking for that perfect Christmas gift for a Husky fan, there are massage chairs with purple vinyl bench cushions. 

Not for sale is the Union Jack flag that is hanging in the warehouse. It was flown at the university during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit in the 1980s and afterward wadded up in a plastic bin in the basement. It’s not for sale because it’s part of UW history, Wahl said, but “if Her Majesty is listening and wants it, we’re happy to make a deal.”

Produced for the Web by Isolde Raftery.