Equipment Reuse Is Good For Economy

September 5, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — Through its liquidation efforts on behalf of major retailers, Liquid Asset Partners LLC figures its sales of used store fixtures and equipment offers a green solution to the age-old problem of waste, as well as an opportunity for small businesses to buy affordable equipment for business start-up or expansion, which, in turn, creates new jobs.

As CEO Bill Melvin Jr. sees it, the retailer gets a return on his investment in equipment, and the majority of the equipment and fixtures are recycled to other segments of the market rather than dumped in a landfill.

“Within 20 to 30 days of beginning work on a store, we have the equipment sold and shipped to new owners,” Melvin said. “Most of the buyers are smaller retailers who are happy to find entry-level prices on otherwise expensive equipment.”

Company Chairman Bill Melvin Sr. has led thousands of successful liquidations and is a nationally recognized expert in retail, fixture and equipment appraisals. A family-owned business that was established in Grand Rapids 30 years ago, Liquid Asset Partners evaluates a client store’s assets, submits a proposal and detailed agreement for the project, then operates it from start to finish. The company is currently involved, for example, in eight Target store liquidations in California, Texas, Florida and Virginia.

The company is just about to embark on liquidation projects for some custom motorcycle manufacturers to sell their merchandise and overstock parts, such as V-twin engines, rims, rolling chassis, frames, transmission parts, tanks, fenders, controls and other items needed to make custom choppers.

Liquid Asset Partners has conducted liquidations for retailers, federal courts, banks and Fortune 500 companies. But the majority of its business comes from the retail sector, Melvin said. Business owners, people starting new businesses or looking to expand their businesses comprise the market for used retail equipment, he said.

Potential buyers typically travel to the site of the store that’s being liquidated but they can also view the inventory online at the company’s Web site and call in a purchase order. The company sets asking prices for each piece of equipment but is always willing to listen to offers, Melvin said. Prices are generally more than half off the equipment’s original price.

There is definitely a market for used retail fixtures and equipment in West Michigan, Melvin said. The company conducted a liquidation three months ago for a store on Plainfield Avenue that closed

“We dispersed a lot of equipment from that store into the local market here in Grand Rapids,” he said. 

Melvin said Liquid Asset Partners has a sales staff that has a knack for finding the best fit for each type of equipment. 

“For some projects, for example, we’ll have gondola retail shelving — the kind you see in a Meijers or a supermarket. So we’ll look into the areas where we’re doing sales in, see who’s opening businesses and find buyers for that equipment.”

Some of the most sought after pieces of equipment include retail shelving, restaurant, deli and bakery equipment, retail showcases, clothing racks, warehouse equipment and grocery equipment, he noted.

Sales are surprisingly strong even with the downturn in the economy. Melvin said his company is finding a larger number of new start-up businesses looking for used fixtures and equipment, and he attributes it to higher unemployment levels.

“As folks are laid off from one company, they often tap into their savings and start new small businesses of their own,” Melvin surmised.

“We are so glad to find a solution for our clients and at the same time see new companies grow and create new jobs.”

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