Why did they have jewelry and an xBox 360?
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping that the "Great California Garage Sale" will turn government clutter like surplus prison uniforms and office furniture into cash to bulk up the state's depleted finances.
On offer as the state clears out clutter are nearly 600 state-owned vehicles and thousands of pieces of office furniture, computers, electronics, jewelry, pianos, even a surf board, a food saver and an Xbox 360 gaming system.
State officials estimate the giant two-day yard sale being held at a state warehouse will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to clearing out office products, the state is also selling unclaimed property from state parks and items confiscated by law enforcement, said California Department of General Services spokesman Eric Lamoureux.
The prison department contributed dental chairs and surplus prison shirts and jeans.
"This is a win-win for the state and for shoppers," Schwarzenegger said in a statement Tuesday announcing that a selection of items also would be sold on eBay and Craigslist. "Together we are eliminating waste and providing great deals in this tough economy."
Schwarzenegger also has autographed 15 car visors in an effort to fetch more money during the sale Friday and Saturday.
California sure could use the cash: the state was force to hand out IOUs earlier this year, government workers are on the brink of revolt over a 14 percent pay cut and the state remains in an interminable state of financial morass.
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel recently spoofed the upcoming garage sell, saying the governor was so desperate he was selling everything from a set of burned dumbbells for $10 to a pair of first lady Maria Shriver's leg warmers for $8.
"We are out of money here in California," Kimmel said. "I don't know how much this is going to raise for the state but you can see the governor is going all out with this."
Indeed, Schwarzenegger has been going online to promote the sale.
The idea for a garage sale came from state employees and was put into motion by Schwarzenegger through an executive order earlier this year. At the time, the state was struggling with a projected $26 billion deficit.
After signing the order to reduce the state's 40,000 government vehicles by 15 percent, Schwarzenegger posted a video message thanking his Twitter followers for their budget-balancing ideas, including one follower's suggestion to autograph state-owned vehicles being put up for auction.
"You come up with the great ideas. Why not just sign the cars since you're a celebrity governor? Sign the cars and sell it for more money," the governor said in the video where he was seen sitting at his desk in the state Capitol admiring a 2-foot-long folding knife before addressing viewers. "That's exactly what we're going to do."
On Wednesday, he returned to the Web, telling viewers in an online conversation with the founders of Twitter at the company's San Francisco headquarters that he believes autographing items would drive up prices because a signed leather jacket with the governor's seal once fetched $30,000.
According to the Department of General Services, all the cars are in working condition and generally have over 100,000 miles. They include pickup trucks, sedans and former California Highway Patrol motorcycles and patrol cars.
State officials expect the discounts will draw thousands. The public was invited to preview cars for sale Thursday but the garage sale begins Friday at 8 a.m. The sale will shut down at midnight Saturday.
Schwarzenegger was scheduled to visit the sale Friday morning.
Early shoppers walked between rows of cars, opening doors and getting inside to inspect the interior during Thursday's preview. They took notes on the cars they liked and eyed the competition with suspicion.
Akili Daniels, 32, of Sacramento, said he was worried about used car dealers scooping up the best vehicles. Daniels, who was looking for a sedan or SUV to launch his own video production company after being laid off from a local television station, said he's hoping to get a vehicle for under $5,000.
He was also looking for a van for his wife's new day care venture.
"It's good if we can get it for a good price," Daniels said. "It helps for people who can't buy new cars. But there are people from car lots. You can tell they're locking the cars on the really nice ones. There are all kinds of schemes."
Tim Craythorn, 45, of Elk Grove, said he was in the market for a second used highway patrol car because he got a good deal last year. He said he purchased a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria from a state auction last year for $2,700.
"It was an executive car so it wasn't used in vehicle pursuits," he said. "It actually smelled new. And it gets 19 miles per gallon."
While the Department of General Services auctions off surplus property every six weeks and the California Highway Patrol periodically auctions off its older fleet, Lamoureux said the state had never done both at the same time.
Craythorn said he plans to return Friday morning with his son to shop for a 35mm camera. He said he supported the garage sale.
"The way the economy is right now, it's better to have money in the bank rather than sending things to the junk yard," Craythorn said. "It's better to have things sitting on an auction lot rather than paying for rent or storage."
Other items up for grabs will be sold at set prices. For example, used Blackberry cell phones are going for $25 each. Wood desks are going for $30. Eight stackable chairs are priced at $40. And laptop computers cost $200.
Just like any yard sale, the items are being sold on a first come, first serve basis.
And of course, all sales are final.