By Robert Bellinir

In today’s high-tech world, amateur treasure hunters have come up with a better way to find their booty.  It’s called “geocaching.” Geocaching is best described as an electronic treasure hunt. The only necessities are a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone so that you can navigate to the “cache.”

Geocaching (pronounced GEE-oh-CASH) is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices that began somewhere around the year 2000. Geocaching combines two familiar words—“geo” and “cache.” The prefix geo, for Earth, was used to describe the global nature of the activity, but also for its use in familiar topics in GPS, such as geography.  Caching, from the word cache, has two different meanings, which makes it very appropriate for the activity. A French word invented in 1797, the original definition referred to a hiding place someone would use to temporarily store items.  The second use of cache comes from your computer’s memory cache (computer storage) that is used to quickly retrieve frequently used information.

The activity of geocaching works something like this.  Geocachers use a combination of global positioning systems (GPS) and Internet websites to locate and hide caches everywhere from beaches to downtown parks.  Geocachers establish a cache, which can be any small, weatherproof container, fill it with a logbook and the “treasure” and hide it in a well hidden, yet public spot. They then post the longitude and latitude coordinates on websites such as,, and Fellow geocaches search for a cache online and find the coordinates for a cache nearby. Then they program the numbers into their GPS and begin the hunt. Once they’ve found the cache, geocachers take something from the stash, replace it with something else, and record their names in the log book.

There are an estimated 2.5 million geocaches in the U.S. alone. From enthusiasts and corporate groups to family outings, geocaching has grown to have a very wide following. As with any hobby or sport, geocaching can offer another revenue source for your surplus business.

Here are five marketing ideas that can help your surplus business take advantage of the geocache market.

  1. Surplus stores can start by offering geocaching gifts or novelties, such as t-shirts, geocache coins, coffee mugs, buttons, window stickers, or even a geocache party theme package.
  2. Surplus stores can sell geocache specific GPS units. Garmin has a line of 5 GPS units aimed at the geocaching crowd.
  3. Surplus stores can sell geocaching coins (geocoins) and the different types of boxes, cans, bins and waterproof containers that geocachers use to store their stash.  A popular alternative for storing the stashes is an ammo box or can.
  4. Exhibitors at a trade show or convention (perhaps an army navy military surplus expo) could use the geocaching theme to hide their stashes at the trade show site and then have attendees search to find them. Prizes or rewards could be offered for a successful hunt at their booth. You might even have teams working to win a grand prize awarded at the end of the convention.
  5. How about a contest? A great way to get geocachers to notice you is to hide numerous geocaches near your store and then advertise the fact that your business promotes geocaching. Suggestions for your stash include: coupons, gift certificates, promotional items with your company logo on them, or even something as simple as your business card. A prize for everyone that finds the stash is sure to increase store traffic.  Even offering a discount to geocachers upon presentation of their hand-held GPS is a great way to get your store noticed.

Your work is not yet completed! You still have to promote the contest. You will want to publicize your contest to geocachers online through your website and social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter. You will also need to upload the location of your cache onto (and a few other sites). There, you can note the location and describe your cache with as much detail as you like. In all, this is nothing new from the typical PR or marketing angle.

Geocaching is yet another outlet for family or corporate fun.  But beyond a fun hobby, geocaching can provide surplus store owners another vehicle in which to promote their business. So go ahead and give it a try and take advantage of the surge in the popularity of geocaching to drive new customers to your surplus store.