Need a desk, bookshelf, stapler? KU Surplus building is now open to walk-in shoppers

photo by: Kathy Hanks

Sam Pepple, left, and Darren Ross on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, show off a large desk that was once in the KU chancellor's suite and that is now for sale along with other items at KU Surplus.

For the past 12 years, Sam Pepple has tried to find new homes for items no longer used around the University of Kansas.

Everything from tables, chairs, lab equipment, a DNA sequencer and even a throne from China’s Qing Dynasty has passed through the large metal building that houses KU Surplus on the way to being resold.

“Every year, we push 7,000 to 10,000 pieces,” said Pepple, the business coordinator for KU Surplus.

Until now, KU Surplus only sold directly to KU departments and, in many cases, to the general public via online auction sites such as govdeals.com. Now, the public can step inside KU Surplus from 8 to 10 a.m. Tuesdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays at 1851 Westbrooke St.

People had been wanting to come to the building to buy stuff.

Instead of telling them to go away, he said, they decided to open up the building for several hours a week.

On a recent afternoon, Pepple and co-worker Darren Ross had taken a donation of filing cabinets and office supplies over to New York Elementary School, plus set up a used office cubicle for one of the departments on campus.

Before demolition began on the Horejsi Family Athletics Center, home of KU volleyball, they rescued what they could, including score tables and light fixtures.

Those who walk through the KU Surplus building will find everything from a large desk that was once in the chancellor’s suite to a plethora of chairs, tables, bookcases, chalkboards, whiteboards, three-ring binders, Rolodexes, staplers and coffee carafes. All items are sold at discounted prices.

And it’s not just office furniture and accessories. When KU replaces vehicles, lawn mowers or even a tractor, Pepple runs them through a competitive bidding process on govdeals.com.

“It seemed silly that no one was reusing stuff on campus,” said Pepple, so the university hired him to handle the surplus items.

He had retired from his own business, “Everything but Ice,” which he described as a Lawrence junk store that sold catalog returns.

With the items they are selling, “the price is right,” his co-worker Ross said.

A woman drove from Atlanta to purchase the Qing Dynasty throne. Someone had discovered it in a building at KU, Pepple said. It’s not clear where it came from. Before putting it up for sale, KU Surplus ran it past KU’s museums and the Center for East Asian Studies; no one wanted it.

“We didn’t give it away,” Pepple said, though he declined to say how much it was sold for.

“It was not very pretty or in good condition,” Pepple said. “But she was sure tickled to have it.”

KU Surplus’ inventory is available for online viewing at surplus.ku.edu/inventory.

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