PHOENIX — Wondering what to get that special wine lover for Christmas?
How about a corkscrew — or several hundred of them?
Turns out the state of Arizona auctions them off at pretty regular intervals.
And if the most recent sale is any indication, you can get them at rock-bottom prices.
One bucket of 7½ pounds of the devices sold for $26. And another went for a mere $12.50.
So how, you might ask, does the state government come into possession of so many wine-opening devices?
Blame negligent travelers. It turns out that the state has a deal with the Transportation Security Administration, the agency that staffs the security checkpoints at airports.
And it seems that Arizonans, perhaps fearing they’ll be caught unable to open a bottle of wine while on vacation, tend to put them in their pockets, purses and carry-on luggage. And if the device has a small blade to cut through the foil, that’s against the rules for what passengers can bring onto planes.
So TSA collects them.
Megan Rose, spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration, said the TSA will hold anything seized or left for some period of time. What’s not picked up ends up going to the state.
And there apparently are a lot of wine lovers out there.
“We get approximately 20-plus pounds of corkscrews a month,” Rose said. So once a month they are put into batches and become part of the regular auction of surplus property.
But it’s not just corkscrews.
The state also ends up with a whole bunch of pocket knives, both Swiss army style — complete with corkscrew — and regular. Rose figures her agency gets about 200 pounds of those every four to six weeks.
The auction also includes other things that TSA collects from passengers.
“We also have a ton of tools,” she said, “wrenches, hammers screwdrivers. (It’s) crazy what people try to bring on a plane.”
In fact, Rose said, the least surprising things are those corkscrews “because people probably take them from hotels.”
“But hammers?” she added.
Rose said most of the stuff like this that the state auctions off comes from the TSA in Phoenix.
“But we get some stuff from Tucson, usually around every six to 12 months,” she said, depending on when a truck is available “and when storage becomes a problem for them.”
She figures the regular Tucson haul, when it shows up, averages about 35 pounds a month.
The state has another batch of goodies up for grabs Wednesday. And you can show up in person at 1537 W. Jackson St. in Phoenix any day before then between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and up to 3 p.m. on auction day.
Or you can just bid online.
While there are no corkscrews in this particular batch, you can put in your offer for one of two 7½-pound batches of Swiss army knives. The most recent bid for one batch was $42, with $36 bid for the other.
And even more online auctions are in the works.