When the University Medical Center at Princeton moved from its longtime home on Witherspoon Street to new headquarters in Plainsboro last May, thousands of items were left behind. This inventory of furniture, office equipment, kitchen appliances, artwork С just about every non-medical item in the building С will be up for grabs this weekend at a giant sale on two floors of the old hospital.
“We shrank the footprint of the building so it’s not a free-for-all,” said Eric Tivin, the CEO of Centurion Service Group, the medical auction house handling the event. “Everything will be consolidated on two floors. But we’re still talking about 4,000 to 5,000 items. It’s a lot of stuff.”
While Centurion usually holds auctions, this weekend’s event is more like a giant garage sale. “I have a guy who has been on the site every day for the last four weeks,” Mr. Tivin said. Every item will have a price on it. Everything is cash and carry, and nothing will be held for later pickup. There is no bargaining.
“You won’t need to. These are rock-bottom prices,” he said, estimating that office chairs will go for $5 to $20, file cabinets $10 or $25, and computer monitors $20. “We have a whole bunch of computer boxes — 400 of them — minus the hard drives, but with monitor, keyboard, and mouse, for $40.”
Centurion bills itself as the world’s largest medical equipment auction house, with offices in Chicago, Las Vegas, and London. The company works with hospitals, health centers, radiology centers, and other medical facilities to sell surplus medical equipment and other assets.
The object of this weekend’s sale, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, is more about cleaning out the building than making a profit, which is why prices are low. Asked whether the hospital had considered donating items to local non-profits before holding the sale, spokesperson Carol Norris-Smith, vice president of Marketing and Public Affairs, said she was not able to determine if that was the case.
Mr. Tivin said people may be surprised at what they find at the sale. “When you think about a hospital, you forget about things like heaters, printers, clocks on the wall, artwork. There is a lot of kitchen stuff — countertops, ovens, refrigerators. When you start gathering it all up, you say, ‘Oh my God, this is an amazing site.’ We’re expecting a lot of interest.”
The sale comes amid continuing controversy over the fate of the former hospital site. Area residents opposed to plans for a rental complex by AvalonBay Communities, which is contracted to purchase the site and plans to tear down the existing building to make room for new construction, have hired attorneys to represent them. They are expected to air numerous environmental concerns at meetings of the Princeton Environmental Commission and Regional Planning Board this week.
Mr. Tivin said his company has no connection to the site’s future. “All we’re doing is emptying the building out of all the movable equipment, so the next step can be taken by the hospital, whatever they so choose,” he said.