PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The holidays have long been over, but it’s the most wonderful time of the year for Mike Ringelsten, the owner of Shorewood Liquidators outside Chicago.
That’s because this is where many items go when they are returned by customers to sellers like Amazon, Home Depot, and Sears.
Despite popular perception, returned products are not put back on the shelf, Ringelsten told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.
Ringelsten: “All returns are sent to processing centers across the U.S., and then are liquidated by companies like mine.”
Delano: “So they are not put back on the shelf?”
Ringlesten: “They are not put back on the shelf.”
His warehouse is overflowing with everything from GoPros to Xboxes to an entire wall of drills — up one thousand percent in just five years.
Online shopping with no questions asked return policies are a big reason why.
Americans returned over $260 billion in merchandise in 2015.
Tobin Moore, CEO of Optoro, helps stores process those returns.
He says restocking items can be expensive for retailers.
“Often retailers end up liquidating them for pennies on the dollar, or in some cases throwing them away in landfills just because it’s more cost effective,” says Moore.
So, instead, they’re acquired by liquidators like Shorewood.
Once they are tested, Shorewood will auction them off.
So is there any way that a consumer can buy this heavily discounted merchandise?
Yes, by going online at slibuy.com.
“We sell all of our store return products on slibuy.com. You can go on. It’s an auction-style format. You bid, you win, we ship it to you,” says Ringelsten.
Auctions are held online every Thursday. Bidding starts at $5 for all items, and is usually complete in 11 hours.
Over 1,300 items are listed each day.
“And they all sell because we start the bid out very cheap,” he said.