A different kind of thrift

For the last several months, I have been following the University of Washington Surplus Store on twitter, and have been dying to stop by. The premise is this: the college has one central depot for all their extra supplies, furniture, materials, etc to be redistributed. Mainly the goal is to have other departments repurpose materials, but once a week they are open to the public, and periodically they have public auctions. I’ve spied some great finds on their website, and had been dying to stop by but couldn’t find a time to get there before they close Tuesdays at 6 pm. Last week, I had an afternoon meeting scheduled nearby, so after that was over I finally had a chance to hit it up on my way home!

Now, this isn’t the type of place you are going to find an amazing brand-name vintage piece. No fancy designers here, these are the remnants of a public university. But, they have a TON of stuff and the pricing is incredible. Here’s what I spied:

Aluminum framed chalkboards $5-$10

Slide carousels and plastic film reels $1 max

Cute lil red coffee pot $3

Test tubes and lab bottles galore. If you’re planning a sciencey themed wedding, this is your place! I was *this* close to buying a bunch of test tubes for a little craft, but talked myself out of it. Maybe next time.


Chair central. Not all cute, but a couple little gems throughout. This 70s wood beauty was $10 I think.

Ladders and a sawhorse

Big cable spool. This was marked sold, but I think they wanted $25 or so. Could make a cool bar or something for your garden.

Galvanized tape dispenser

Date stamps

Little hardware pieces. I thought these might be fun for a windchime.

They also had things like unworn athletic shoes, old dorm bunkbeds (for those of you with kiddos who share a room!), many many metal file cabinets, and even building materials like plywood and drywall. I forgot to take pics of my loot, but I picked up a few things: some plastic tubs for use in the garden, a film reel in turquoise, and some industrial magazine holders to help reorganize the craft room. Can’t wait to show you where they land.

If you’re in the Seattle area and are looking for a different source for vintage goodies, stop by some Tuesday, or keep an eye on their website before an auction. You never know what you might find!

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14 thoughts on “A different kind of thrift

  1. Woah, I love everything about this! Such a smart thing for the school to do, and this type of stuff is so cool out of the dated-academia context. I’m a little jealous. :)

  2. yay! i love the surplus store- glad you finally had a chance to go! i haven’t been able to go for awhile, but my tuesday job is ending soon and then i’ll be able to go weekly again!

  3. you have got to be kidding me I had no clue this place existed thank you so much for sharing this secret it looks amazing I can not wait to plan a trip!!

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