Scoring Deals

I talk with techs all the time who tell me they need new equipment but don’t have the budget to make it happen. In this post, I’ll share some secrets I’ve worked out on finding equipment at great prices. Sometimes it takes a little work, but it’s always worth it.

A few weeks ago, I scored a really great deal. We have been in desperate need for a new IMAG camera for years—we currently have one rather nice Hitachi Z4000W and one very not nice Sony DXC-3000—and I’ve been running scenarios on getting a new one. Unfortunately, every one of them has been shut down because of the budget. 

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine, and he said they just retired their Z4000 when they went HD. We stated talking price and settled on a number I felt was fair, and it was about half what my other scenarios were looking like. Then on a lark, my boss searched ebay for a Z4000. Lo and behold, there was one, in the exact same set up that we currently have. 

To make a long story short, we ended up winning the auction, and even after buying a few cables that we need, we came out less than half what my friend’s camera was going to be (sorry Mark!). The upshot of all this is that I could possibly have enough to replace our switcher if I play my cards right. 

It pays to be creative when looking for new gear. We tend to go immediately to our dealer network when we need new equipment, but sometimes some really great deals can be had if we do a little legwork. 

When I owned my video production company, we bought almost all our video decks from ebay. Almost all of them were great finds. Every once in a while, we’d get a dud, but overall, we came out tens of thousands of dollars ahead. 

Since I’ve been on staff at churches, I’ve tried to find creative ways to swap, barter and buy and sell equipment with other churches. Another friend of mine just scored a great deal on a used lighting console that he bought from a church that switched to another one. I sold our Yamaha M7 to a church in Oregon; we got some cash, they got a great deal. 

I often check with used equipment brokers when I start looking to upgrade equipment. Last summer, we picked up 10 used moving wash fixtures for about $8,000; not a bad deal. Sure they’re used and we had to buy a few belts to replace the worn out ones, but I expect these will last us several years before we have to do major work on them. 

I’ll put a list of brokers at the bottom of this post; some I have used, others I’ve not. It should go without saying, but do your research, and make sure you have a good inspection period. Of course when buying off ebay, check the seller’s feedback. I always like to ask a question to see if the seller is real.

If you are buying computers, particularly Macs, check out Apple’s refurbished store. You can typically get fantastic deals on the previous generation (especially right after a new model comes out), but even the current models can be found at significant savings. I just bought an Air and saved over $200 buying refurb. Every Mac I’ve purchased in the last 4 years has been a refurb and I’ve yet to have an issue.

The Church Tech Leader network has a marketplace area on the site and I’ve seen some good deals there occasionally. And as we always tell you, it pays to get to know the church techs around you. I’ve borrowed a complete 3 camera production fly-pack from a church in the area; that saved me thousands of dollars in rental costs. 

I want to hear from you; what are your strategies for finding good deals on gear?

Links to Brokers:

Sound Broker

UsedAV

Media Concepts

Broadcast Store

Apple Refurb Store

Solaris