Have you ever started looking to purchase new kitchen equipment? After doing so, you may realize that good equipment is WAY out of most kitchens' budgets. And the thought of used kitchen equipment brings ideas of broken-down junk. Before thinking that, consider where most used equipment comes from...
Oftentimes, restaurants are started by some rich guy who likes cooking going through his mid-life crisis. He builds a great facility, with all new equipment, and a couple million dollars later opens the kitchen, has little to no business, and closes within 6 months. The equipment is then sold off for a fraction of the price it was bought for and is barely used. And there's a lot of this equipment out there.
Most of the equipment goes to restaurant supply stores who buy a whole restaurant worth of used equipment at an auction, clean it up, and sell it off. They'll always try selling you on new first, but ask them about the used stuff too. Sometimes they'll even warranty and service the used equipment themselves.
Also, you can sometimes find equipment in the classifieds (and in "Classifieds - Businesses For Sale"). The local sales reps of your food suppliers can be quite knowledgeable about where to find new equipment, used equipment, and recent restaurant closings. If you find a restaurant that's closed recently, you might be able to attend the auction yourself.
One person mentioned that you could check www.e-Bay.com on the Internet, as she's purchased pans, dishware, and utensils there -- but be careful about purchasing big equipment that you're unable to inspect first. Another mentioned that she used to find good used equipment from the military.