Austin, Texas Computerworks Goodwill
g at kurico.com
Thu Mar 15 14:57:16 CDT 2007
Jim Battle wrote:
> I've had it with the Computerworks in Austin. Please let me rant;
> nobody else will appreciate it.
> When I moved to Austin a couple years ago, I had high hopes. In the
> San Francisco Bay area, you could spend a saturday hitting half a
> dozen Goodwill's, looking for gems. Sometimes they appeared, often
> not. In Austin (and San Antonio, and probably some other cities)
> Goodwill sends all of their computer donations to a specialized
> goodwill, marketed as "ComputerWorks"; the theory is that most
> goodwill's don't have skilled employees to know what is interesting or
> not and how to price it; I agree that is the case.
> The Austin Computerworks even has a vintage computer museum, so that
> led me to believe the appreciated vintage computers.
> Bzzt. Not so.
> Clue #1: the "museum" hasn't been open in the eight or so times I've
> stopped by. Their hours are sunday 1-5, monday 9-11, wed 1-3. 8
> hours a week. One time I snuck in when the door was open and had a
> look -- it is a hands-off museum. Each of the 20 or so machines has a
> 5x7 card fully explaining what is interesting about the machine and
> how it fits in to the tapestry of computing ... not. Name, date, and
> manufacturer is about all.
> Clue #2: they got rid of 80% of their books, leaving only "popular"
> Clue #3: they never have any vintage computers for sale when I'm there.
Two events have led to what we have now. First was that the computer
museum and their initial acknowledgment of classic computers was
primarily driven by a single person who has not been affiliated with
them for probably a couple of years now. This person started the museum
back at their old location off of 183 and also helped to make sure that
anything "interesting" didn't get "chippered". Second, the manager at
the time, also gained a bit of an appreciation for the older computers
by osmosis. At least enough to understand that there was indeed a
market for the equipment and to ok and tolerate the museum (as well as
helping to actually get an official museum when they moved to their new
location). Alas, that manager is no longer there and "corporate" (who
never really "got" the museum) has a much stronger hand in how that
store is run, and frankly, I'm amazed the museum space hasn't been
converted to retail yet.
The computer works has been on a long slow steady decline, and while it
hasn't reached rock bottom yet (they've rebounded some, when they first
moved into their new location they tried to turn themselves into a
computer retailer wannabe and there was much gnashing of teeth by the
"regulars" and they've got a lot of the, um, "junk" back onto the
shelves), I'm afraid things aren't looking up. How I long for the old
days when they were over near Lamar and the train tracks and you could
find all manner of interesting classics for dirt cheap.
One FYI, often times when they say that they are "sorting it", they mean
they are sorting it onto pallets and the stuff gets sent to their
warehouse in East Austin to be auctioned. So they aren't necessarily
consigned to the chipper, unless no one buys the pallet or the pallet is
purchased by someone who doesn't want the "other" stuff that's on it.
So if you have time (and unfortunately I don't), you can check out their
weekly auctions (used to be Sat mornings) for stuff.
WRT MC Howard, they will often times get interesting things in as well
(they attend most of the local electronics auctions). You have to watch
them a bit though, as a couple of times I've gotten the "I can get more
for the thing as scrap" response to an offer to purchase some old box.
Not the most pleasant bunch of fellows at first meeting, but _usually_
reasonable once you get to know them.
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