An auction next week by the city of Kenai should produce some interesting juxtapositions.
Imagine a rough-hewn homesteader bidding on a used chain saw or a 1,500-gallon water tank. Then imagine a gaggle of grandmothers trying to outbid one another for a highly collectible toy to give to their grandchildren.
Both of those scenarios are likely at the city's surplus auction on Aug. 12.
Items on the six-page list of possessions the city no longer wants or needs include six automobiles, six radar guns, a dozen compact discs, 19 video tape movies, 44 bicycles, 74 knives and -- here's the collectible toy part -- 358 Beanie Babies.
The Beanie booty was recovered after the Kenai Police Department solved an air cargo theft case.
"When we recovered the property, there were a couple cases of Beanie Babies, but the distribution company didn't want to go to the expense of shipping them back, so we kept them," said police Lt. Jeff Kohler.
Thompson's Log Gift and Jewelry in Soldotna does a brisk trade in Beanies. An employee there, Josh Hudson, said the most popular Beanie Babies are whatever the newest ones are.
"They come out with a new shipment every month, with five or six different ones," Hudson said.
He said there is a lot of repeat business of customers coming back as soon as a new shipment arrives.
He said new Beanies cost about $6.50, but some of the older ones are worth a lot more money.
Hudson said the typical Beanie Baby customer is a grandmother buying for her grandchildren. He said he expects many of the children hold onto the toys, hoping their value will increase.
The online auction house e-bay lists 8,900 Beanie Baby auctions. Prices range from a couple of dollars for newer toys to more than $100 for "retired" collectibles. Kohler did not know which Beanies were included in the ones being auctioned by the city.
Besides the occasional collectible stuffed toy, the police seize many items that often go unclaimed.
"It's not uncommon to recover stolen property that we don't know who the owners are," Kohler said. "We'll maintain it for a couple of years and hope somebody will report it stolen."
He said the police do not advertise recovered property.
A lot of the items the police department holds on to are things people find and turn into the department.
On the long list the police department has of items to be auctioned are a gold nugget watch, a Canon auto-focus camera lens, a snowboard, a pair of televisions, earrings, a jig saw, tire gauge, diary, box of Bic razors and a Homelite chain saw.
Other city departments have surplus items as well, such as 14 used door knobs from the library, a soda dispenser from the Parks and Recreation Department, three wall-hung urinals from building maintenance, an IBM electric typewriter and a hydrant robot, both from the fire department.
An electric typewriter is what people used to use to write documents with before computers became popular, while a hydrant robot, according to Assistant Fire Chief Scott Walden, is a remote-controlled fire education tool. Sadly, it's not working.
"We used it for 16 years and it got a lot of use," Walden said. "It's a parts vehicle. Someone who's into radio-controlled models might be able to salvage some parts off of it."
In its original form, the hydrant robot was just that; a 3-foot-tall radio-controlled red plastic fire hydrant with a smiling face painted on it. The department used it for demonstrations in schools. What's up for sale is only the inner workings, as the department has salvaged the hydrant body for other purposes.
Also on the list are six automobiles: a 1989 Ford sedan, a 1989 Ford police cruiser, a 1985 Ford van, a 1984 Ford pickup, a 1991 Ford Taurus police car and a 1994 Chevrolet Caprice police car. Also, for the motor vehicle-minded are two Chevrolet V-8 engine blocks and cylinder heads, 32 car and truck tires, three grader tires and a pallet of used tire chains.
There also are a number of electrical items, such as generators and motors, some air compressors, coffee makers, assorted video cassette movies, hand tools and computer equipment, as well as 44 miscellaneous bicycles.
The city's auction will take place beginning at 10 a.m. on Aug. 12 at the city shop and warm storage building across from the Kenai Municipal Airport.
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