- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - Rae DeLay had a problem. A problem in the form of half a pallet of new-in-the-box jockstraps from the 1980s.

As the materials manager for Oregon State University, DeLay is the person in charge of selling off its surplus property.

And the pile of athletic supporters, which were found in a closet in gym-filled Langton Hall, was a particularly tricky sale.

DeLay recalled that when the jockstraps were found in 2011, she and her staff just stuck a $20 sticker on the whole lot and put them up on a shelf, where they sat for months.

“Initially they were just out of sight, out of mind, because we didn’t know what to do with them. So you have to get creative.”

Eventually DeLay had the idea of putting an unopened box - which contained 12 jockstraps - on the Internet auction site eBay.

It sold for $370.

DeLay repeated the experiment and sold another box of 12 for a similar figure. By the time she and her staff had put a third box on eBay, they had one bidder contact them to ask if they had any more available.

“We’re going, ‘Why do you want them? They’re 25-plus years old,’” DeLay said. She said they knew from receiving surplus gym shorts of a similar age that the elastic waistbands deteriorate over time to a point where the garments become unwearable.

DeLay said the bidder told them he was a collector and that, to a collector, new-in-the-box athletic wear was a rare find.

“It’s just amazing that there would be collectors for something like that,” DeLay marveled.

She and her staff sold the boxes off one at a time. By the time they were done, that half a pallet of jockstraps had turned into $10,000.

“It brought a lot of money back into the university, but it was an odd way to get it,” DeLay recalled Wednesday at OSU’s Property Services Building, which hosts weekly “OSUsed” sales of surplus goods.

Later that year, DeLay said, her office received a batch of unused modern jockstraps from the athletic department - and couldn’t sell them.

“They don’t sell because they are not classics,” she said.

In addition to managing surplus property, DeLay runs Campus Recycling and the university’s garbage disposal service. Her team also provides the labor for moving faculty and staff between offices.

“Anything that comes off the campus should come through my department,” she said.

DeLay, who has worked at OSU since 2008, said selling off surplus property sometimes requires lots of research and creativity. She said she and her staff are very focused on diverting things from landfills, be it through reselling, recycling, finding another department that can use the items or donating them to charity, something she particularly enjoys.

“I want to find the best value for OSU,” she said.

In addition to selling things through eBay and at the OSUsed sales, DeLay’s office also uses brokers and auction sites like publicsurplus.com.

DeLay, who worked at Hewlett-Packard for 18 years, said she brings $650,000 to $750,000 a year back to the university through surplus property sales.

The range of things she has to sell is far-reaching - she sells property across the state from OSU’s Extension Service and Cascades Campus, as well as from OSU research projects spread out across the world.

For instance, DeLay is in the process of selling a vehicle in Hawaii and is trying to dispose of a houseboat in an extremely isolated part of Alaska.

The boat, which was used as a floating lab by OSU researchers, was left vacant for around four years after the study ended. Now DeLay is trying to find out whether the vessel is even still there after all this time.

And the stream of surplus items doesn’t end there; DeLay said many public agencies in Oregon lack departments specializing in selling surplus property, so they often send theirs to OSU, which will sell it for a commission. All told, around 40 public agencies sell surplus property through OSU. For example, DeLay is now selling a used fire truck for the city of Albany.

OSU’s approach of integrating waste disposal, recycling and surplus property sales is pretty unusual, DeLay said, but it leads to some advantages - her staff knows that some things that are thrown away can be recycled or sold and will rescue things from the trash can or recycling bin.

“I’m in a great place,” she said. “I have all this opportunity for education and recycling.”


Information from: Gazette-Times, https://www.gtconnect.com

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