Make Money From Confiscated Stuff at Airport?

Perusing Digg I found this article on Yahoo that lists the agencies that sell all the confiscated stuff at airport security lines. The majority of the confiscated items are knives or other sharp objects like box cutters and scissors.

I noticed my local government agency that sells all these items back to the public called the Texas Surplus Store was not even 5 miles away from where I live, so I paid them a quick visit. I wasn’t sure what I’d find there.

I went there and it was a large warehouse with some airport confiscated stuff in the front, and a giant warehouse full of furniture, industrial machinery, cop car parts and other random stuff. Everything there was either retired government equipment, foreclosed items, defaulted loan items or seized property….all at super discounted prices. This government agency gets all the stuff, and it’s their purpose is to get rid of it quickly. It reminded me of a big pawn shop, except much cheaper.

Ever lost your sunglasses in a city or state building or airport? If no one steals them first, they end up here…for $1 a piece!

FYI, if you lost your $200 titanium Maui Jim sunglasses in the Austin airport a little while ago….I just bought them, for $1.00!

Had a pocketknife, box cutter, nail clippers or scissors confiscated at the airport? You can buy them back here for about $0.25 to $1/piece. There’s big tubs full of THOUSANDS of them.


So the reason I went here was to see if any money can be made from these items by reselling them on eBay. Something that caught my eye were these big bags of assorted pocket knives for $10. I couldn’t count how many each bag had inside, but it was a lot. So as a little money experiment I bought a $10 bag of knives plus one Leatherman Micra pocketknife for $5 (just to get more keyword searches on eBay).

I counted all the knives, and it turns out I got 74 knives for $10. The extra Leatherman knife made it 75 knives total.

I took some pictures of the knives for the eBay auction, and I found out it’s actually a pretty boring process trying to open up 75 pocket knives, so I just opened up some of the larger ones for a more dramatic picture effect. There were actually some very high quality knives in there, I was impressed.

Then I went ahead and stuck the whole lot of 75 knives on eBay with a $10 minimum bid and flat $10.95 shipping charge. :
eBay Auction 170168750293

I also went ahead and made a quick video of the knives, slapped it on YouTube and posted it in the auction:

In a few days I’ll see how much this $15 experiment returns!

—–UPDATE 11-20-2007—–
The eBay auction bid up to $26.55 + $10.95 shipping for a total of $37.50.

It cost me:
$10 purchase price
$12 shipping
$1 fees
Total costs: $23.00
Bought for: $37.50
Total Profit for Experiment: $14.50

Blog posted on: November 13, 2007

48 comments on “Make Money From Confiscated Stuff at Airport?

  1. Dave P.

    It sounds like it’d be a lot of fun to just sift through all the stuff they have there! Why not sell the glasses for a hefty profit ;) I would also think any sort of Swiss Army brand knifes would be worth a bit.

  2. Neville


    Swiss Army knives go for $2.50 a piece there. The big grab bag I bought is the best because you get an assortment.

    I don’t know much about the knife market, but if you rummage around I’m sure you can find some high value knives on the cheap.

    The glasses I’m keeping though :-)

  3. Justin Kuepper

    You’re right, this is one of the best places to get cheap stuff but it’s used so hard to resell.

    The best resell opportunity I’ve found is going to manufacturing surplus auctions and getting new equipment in bulk and then eBaying individual parts. Takes around $2000+ to buy a lot, but you can double or triple your money in a month (can’t list all at once or it will dilute) so it’s worth the effort most of the time.

  4. Anonymous

    Nev, this isn’t your own idea, is it? I mean, Pennsylvania has been doing this for years:,2933,208080,00.html

    Pennsylvania Selling Banned Airline Items on eBay
    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — A man-sized artificial palm tree and a sausage grinder share space in a state government warehouse with piles of Swiss Army knives and chain saws — just a few of the things travelers have had to give up at airport security checkpoints.

    Pennsylvania turns a small profit by disposing of these castoff items, which it accepts from security contractors at 12 airports in five U.S. states, by selling them to the highest bidders at online auction site eBay.

    And what did PA learn from their experience: “Knives, auctioned by the lot, sell fastest. Ten pounds of assorted pocket knives, for example, recently attracted nine bids and sold for $42.”

    “Pennsylvania has modified its program to maximize profitability. Smaller lots bring in more cash, so it no longer offers bulk sales like the 500 small Swiss Army knives that went for a record $595.”

    “Kentucky, one of at least three other states that sells airport surplus on eBay, brings in $3,000 a month and stocks state agencies with surrendered hand tools and other equipment.”
    Do you ever have an idea of your own?

    1. Chris

      I’m just curious as to why it would matter if it was his own idea or not? The information he provides is not only informational, but interesting.

      Thank you Nev for this website. I discovered it today and will forever be a fan.

      Stay well.

  5. JDH

    I don’t think Nev claimed he was the first person to ever try this idea. Sam Walton wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea of cutting costs either. People still think he did okay. The time you spent researching that idea just to mock this guy could have been used productively.

    It takes a big man to leave a 3 paragraph anonymous post.

  6. D-List 6 Figure Blogger

    You are sure to make a profit, but what you need to do is calculate all the time you put into it and she what your earnings per hour of time spent.

    While you could potentially make a lot more selling them individually, it would take a lot more time. To make a sale on eBay worthwhile, I figure you need to make a minimum of $20 profit per hour of time spent.

  7. Anonymous

    Sold for $26.55. Shipping $10.95.

    I’m curious to see what your “real” profit here was, including the amount of time that you put into the sale.

    At first blush, it does not look as profitable as your income-generating magical change jar.

  8. Anonymous

    It cost me:
    $10 purchase price
    $12 shipping
    $1 fees
    Total costs: $23.00
    Bought for: $37.50
    Total Profit for Experiment: $14.50

    Nev, did they teach math at UT? In your post, you said that you bought a $10 bag of knives plus the leatherman for $5. That’s $15 in knives, not $10, reducing your profit to $9.50.

  9. Anonymous

    Here’s a tip Nev: The USPS has a flat-rate box that you can put up to 70lbs into and get it anywhere in the USA for $9.60 via Priority Mail.

    You just wasted $2.40 by using the wrong mailing method. I know that seems petty, but it would have also gotten to the customer quicker via priority mail.

  10. Gregory

    Kudos Neville for sharing this with us. I can’t wait to see how it works out because regardless of the outcome, you can profit big or have a cheap collection of glasses and knives. I’m sure you can even pass some to your friends.

  11. Anonymous

    U can’t wait to see how it turns out? The outcome was posted days ago. He made $9 – a gallon of gas which is around $3. So for all of the time spent he made $6

    I would assume that going to the building, browsing, buying the knives, making an ebay listing, taking pictures, opening and closing the knives for the pictures and video all took over an hour.

    So he made $6 for over an hours worth of work.

    Business genius.

  12. Anonymous

    To the 10:40 Anon:

    That was an awfully snide remark.

    To be sure, the “business genius” was the fact that Nev LOST $2 on shipping….LOL.

    Yet all the ball-sniffers will keep posting what a wonderful businessman Nev is.

    Why he would not sell a pair of sunglass and make a huge profit, incurring little shipping cost, as opposed to a bag full of stupid knives is beyond my limited business accumen.

    1. longhegrin

      Because there is the concept of a standard of living.

      If you sold every item you owned, then you would have a lot of cash. But you would have a very low standard of living. If the sunglasses improved Nev’s standard of living by more than the value of the cash he would get from selling them, then he should not sell them.

  13. Anonymous

    No see that would make too much sense.

    Why sell some sunglasses which he claims are worth a couple hundred dollars when he could just wear them and give himself a “professional” look while he makes $6 or less per hour selling knives.

  14. Anonymous

    Don’t get mad at him because he can’t calculate profit.

    Remember, this is a kid who thinks a change jar is income.


    If you get stopped at a check in line with contraban, you should be able to mail it to yourself rather than just have it taken.

  16. Anonymous

    I think its great i buy ntsa product all the time on e-bay how can i find this warehouse and buy these products for my self.Ben-( thank you

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