Left something behind at the airport? Looking for a great deal on a car? You might find it at the Texas state surplus store

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ByMiya Shay via KTRK logo
Saturday, February 3, 2018
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TSA TREASURES: Items left behind at the airport wind up for sale for pennies on the dollar

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- By now, you know the routine: don't take anything that looks like a weapon through airport security, and don't forget to pick up all your belongings when you leave the secure area.

Simple enough, you say?

Well, not for everyone. Each year hundreds of thousands of items are collected from the state's airports, and all those things have a second life.

They're for sale at the state surplus store, often for pennies on the dollar.

"The airport dumps all the property in one of the bins and we transport it back," said Kristy Fierro with the Texas Facilities Commission. "When we get here, two or more of us dump it out, and sort them. "

Fierro says as long as the items are not illegal weapons, such as brass knuckles or Tasers, they can be sold.

State workers sort, price, and resell everything, anywhere from 50 to 90 percent off the retail price. That means great deals for bargain hunters.

Corkscrews are a dime a piece. Swiss Army knives start at a $2, and multi-tools are $20.

You would be surprised at a number of full-size drills, hammers, and various construction tools that are collected. Those are also very popular with shoppers.

Also popular? Accessories like watches and women's jewelry. We found a Michael Kors watch that retails for more than $200 at $75. Oakley sunglasses were marked at $40.

As far as jewelry, they range from a dollar for small costume jewelry to mid-range brands that top out around $100.

"This tested to have real diamonds," Fierro said, showing us a small cross pendant. "But, I'm only selling it at $60 because they're tiny. It is set in sterling silver."

Kendra Scott, Coach, Kate Spade, and James Avery brands were all priced between $20 to $75.

If you're interested in bigger ticket items, the front parking lot of the Austin storefront has many options. That's where many of the state's surplus trucks and cars end up for sale, and for a song.

"People buy them," said Britt Davey, who manages the vehicles. "We don't have a problem selling them. We sell at least a car or two a day."

Davey says many people buy an automobile for their teenagers because at $2,000 to $5,000, they are a great price. The vehicles do have at least 150,000 miles on them, but most have had regular maintenance.

Other items popular with bargain hunters include surplus furniture. Old desks, chairs, and file cabinets are great for people looking to furnish an office on a budget, or just use in their garages.

The chairs are all fairly worn, but at $9 a chair, they might just be the thing you need for your workshop.

What happens if an item doesn't sell? They are often donated to charities around the state needing furnishings. The surplus store also serves as a recycling center for all state agencies. For example, if one state agency has extra desks, another state agency can get those desks from the surplus store if they need it.

"A big part of what our program does is a transfer of assets to other agencies, if there's an ongoing need," said Fierro. "It's a very green program."

But the most famous item at the store? A bottle of tequila with a cobra and a scorpion inside. It's been at the store office for more than a decade. It's not for sale. And also not for sale are any expensive items such as Rolexes or large diamond jewelry. Those are sent to an authorized appraiser first. The items are eventually sold online.

RELATED: 10 really weird things confiscated by TSA

If you are interested in visiting the store front, the State Surplus Storefront is located at 6506 Bolm Rd., Austin, TX 78721. The store hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

More information about surplus cars can be found here.

Online sales of some larger items are available and can be here.