What happens to the 1.3 million pieces of furniture in the Olympic Village when the Olympics end? – For The Win
The Olympic Village is made up of 31 buildings that each contain 17 floors. In those 31 buildings, there are 3,604 apartments. In addition to the 10,000 athletes these apartments house during the games, they also provide shelter for the trainers, coaches, and medical staff who accompany them. The grand total of humans dwelling in these rooms for three weeks in August comes to about 18,000.
And you know what 18,000 people need? Stuff. Things. Furniture. They need places to sleep, to sit, and to store their equipment, which, given that these people are athletes who need specific tools to do their specific jobs, they tend to have a lot of. The amount of furniture that these tens of thousands of people require ends up totaling around 1.3 million items.
1.3 million! There are 20,000 beds, 135,000 chairs, 42,000 tables in this mile-long stretch of apartments. There are 10,000 wardrobes, according to Howard Rosenberg, the CEO of B-Stock, the company charged with getting rid of these things. There are tens of thousands of safes, of umbrellas. It’s staggering really.
But it’s even more staggering when you think about the fact that this is all temporary housing. There will be no need for these beds, chairs, lamps, what have you, once there are no longer so many people who need them.
So what happens to them? Do they get put on a boat and floated away to the Island of the Lost Twin Beds? No. This year, for the first time ever, they’re getting sold at online auctions.
“We were approached by company called RGS events,” Rosenberg said. “They’re the company responsible for procuring and furnishing all the athletes apartments at the Olympics. They’ve been doing so for maybe six consecutive Olympics, they’re an Australian company.”
Normally, RGS has to manually sell all of this, Rosenberg said, calling up other event management companies or hotel chains one-by-one to try to unload the gently-used (depending on who was staying in them) goods.
But this year, RGS enlisted B-Stock to build specific auction websites. B-Stock usually deals with companies like Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, and many other top retailers that need to liquidate assets. If Amazon has too many home improvement tools, for example, they’ll put them up for auction on B-Stock, and other business can bid on the items for a limited amount of time.
“We work with retailers where they’re liquidating every week, and it’s part of process that’s ongoing,” Rosenberg said.
But now, B-Stock has an important, one-time deal. And that’s to sell off, 40-ft shipping container by 40-ft shipping container, the items in the Olympic Village. Which raises a very important question: Who buys these things?
“Really, it’s all over the map,” Rosenberg said. “Literally — we have registrations from 36 countries. Mostly other event management companies.”
While this group of auctions are now closed, and B-Stock has already sold about 90% of the goods, here are some things you could’ve come away with if you were in the market for an absurd quantity of hotel-like furniture.
A a collection of 4,000 plastic folding chairs for $76,000:
800 umbrellas for $43,000
600 safes for $30,000:
The auctions will go on until the end of August, and then the goods will be shipped up and packed off to their new homes after the Paralymic games end in mid-September.
So the next time you’re in a hotel or at a big corporate shindig, take a moment to look around and appreciate the fact that you could be sitting in the same chair Katie Ledecky once occupied. You might be one item away from a gold medal.