“Oh Auctions! They scare me…”
That is usually one of the reactions that I get from people when I tell them I am married to an auctioneer. Which I completely, totally understand. Auctions can be intimidating. As a child growing up in the 1980’s, my Dad owned a milk hauling business and unfortunately during the farm crisis of the 80’s I spent many Saturdays at farm sales. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what it meant to my Dad, his business, his patrons or to the community I grew up in. As a young kid, auctions were fun. My older brothers and I would get bundled up, would load up in my Dad’s old, yellow Chevy pick-up and would head down a gravel road to a farm sale. I got to run around outside and my Dad would give us quarters to buy homemade baked goods and a glass of pop from the lunch stand.
When I was a little bit older, an elderly woman passed away that lived a few blocks from my house and they had an estate sale. She was always a little bit of a mystery and I remember people in the neighborhood being excited to finally see what she had inside. I remember it was a cold, windy day and I stood by my Mom alongside the hay racks as a ring man, held a wooden cane and called bids from the crowd. After the hay racks were done, they started carrying furniture out of the house and setting it on the lawn- beautiful dressers, cedar chests and what I would later come to love- PRIMITIVES! My Mom bought an old, tattered fainting couch. My Dad wasn’t very happy about that purchase at the time. But she later refinished it and got it upholstered in beautiful fabric. I begged my Mom all day to buy me something and I was so excited when she bought me an old wooden shipping crate for 50 cents! Score! I had my Dad set it next to my sandbox made from an old tractor tire in the yard and would spend hours making mud pies and sand soup the rest of the summer.
As an adult, I had moved back home to go to college and the old hardware store in my home town had closed. A couple bought it and opened an auction house. I remember walking by, peering inside at all the beautiful antiques, but I never went inside to an auction. I later befriended the shopkeeper at the local antique store and occasionally they would let me tag along to an auction when they would buy merchandise for their store. But I never bid on anything. If I wanted something, I would have one of them bid for me. After a while, I got a hang of auctions and got to know the rhythm of the different auctioneers. Eventually, I finally registered for my own number and even bid on some items. I was addicted!
A couple years later, I had graduated from college, the auction house had changed hands and that shopkeeper had been hired to manage the auction house for the new owner. I can still remember the day she called me, with panic in her voice and asked if I wanted to work there. As a poor, working girl with a mortgage, student loans and a car payment, I was eager to make some extra money. It would be at this same auction house a couple years later that I would meet Matt and the rest is history.
So, for those of you that have never been to an auction, my advice is look at our website. Look at the Auction Calendar and the Auction listings, and find a sale that peaks your interest. We usually have a preview the night before an auction, that allows people to take their time and look over what will be for sale the next day. The day of the auction, everyone must register with the cashier to get a bidding number. It is usually me standing behind the counter, so if you have questions, just ask. Grab a seat and when the ring man hold up an item you’re interested in, just hold up your bidding number. One of the most common concerns an auction newbie has is usually one of two things- that the auctioneer will think they are bidding when you are not and that you will pay way more money for an item than you want too. If you bid with your number there won’t be any confusion, just hold your number in the air and the auctioneer will catch your bid. If the bidding goes higher than you want to pay, just put your number down and the auctioneer will know that you are no longer interested.
As for paying more for an item that you want, it can happen, but it isn’t as bad as they dramatize on TV or in the movies. At our auctions, we usually sell in increments of $1.00, $2.50, $5.00 or $10.00. For larger items, we may sell in increments of $25.00, $50.00 or $100.00, but it’s not very often. So, if you do pay more for an item, it will probably be only a few dollars- $2.00 instead of $1.00, $5.00 instead of $2.50, etc. Matt will say after he says sold, which closes the bidding, what the final price was and the number of the winning bidder. Congratulations, you are the new owner of a fabulous new item!
Remember to keep track of your item(s) and feel free to take them to your car during the auction. When you are ready to leave, just come up to the cashier counter and tell me what your bidding number is. I will add up your tickets and give you your total. We accept cash, good check or credit cards (VISA, Discover, Master Card or American Express) for a 3% convenience fee. But be warned, auctions are addictive and you can get hooked at the very first one. But I can guarantee, that you will always see something that you have never seen before, meet someone that you have never met before, and the food at the lunch stand will always be homemade. Happy Bidding!!!