Military Surplus Businesses


I was recently reading a Forbes magazine article (December 5, 2011) which profiled a few military surplus businesses. These were not the usual army/navy stores that sell to the public, although those can do well too. These were the more unique businesses.

Liquidity Services, in Washington, D.C. does over $300 million in annual sales. They buy excess and used military equipment in bulk and sell it through a collection of online auction websites. They are sometimes called the "eBay of the Pentagon."

But don't think you have to be a big corporation to get into this market. The article also profiled a man in Colorado who bought flatbed rail cars from the military for $3,000 each. He makes a living installing them as bridges over ditches and small streams for ranchers and others. Then there was the young man who bought a military bus for $1,800 and used it for a taxi service that makes around $100,000 annually.

How Much Can You Make?

There are too may different types of potential businesses based on buying and selling or using military surplus to put any numbers on this.

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There are already many people and companies buying and selling military surplus. The areas with less competition are those that use the surplus goods in new ways. For example, the Forbes article profiled a fish hatchery owner who bought 12-foot-long missile shipping containers and used them for raising fish. He bought them for $100 each instead of paying the usual $3,000 for regular tanks. The opportunity here might be in buying them and selling them for $500 to hatcheries. That makes for big profits, and still provides a huge savings for the customers, versus traditional tanks.

Qualifications / Requirements

You can start with very little money if you try buying from one of the liquidators, since they will sell single items. You might find a buyer on eBay or locally, and then parlay your profits into bigger purchases.

First Steps

Check out the resources below.


Government Liquidation - A retail liquidator of military and other government surplus, where you can buy in smaller quantities.

Government Surplus - Federal Government site; you can buy things online here and find out when and where the auctions of military equipment are taking place.

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