a few reflections.
16 years ago this month (July), I made my foray into the auction business. Yes 16 years, 210 auctions, over 100,000 lots sold.
I don’t remember a lot of the details of our first auction, other than me being very nervous and almost hoping something would happen so I didn’t have to go through with it! However, I did go through with it, and the first sale went pretty well. Probably was a 6 hour sale and lots of stuff…so that’s where not much has changed!
In the beginning myself, Mom and Dad, and David Beasley set up the sale, and during the auction we had David, Dad and my brother Brian doing the handling, while Mom clerked and Carol Beasley and Patti Bradley took care of the cashiering. My sister and brother-in-law Kris and Gerry Jansen did the food booth, and have done almost every one for the last 16 years.
One of the things I am most proud of, is the fact that we have had so little turnover in staff over the years. Donnie Garner came on board a couple of years after I started and of course is still with us. About 7 years ago Charlie McAteer joined us and is still with us. We now have Susan and David Niven helping out, as well as Tylor Fairbrass . and on occasion we call on Lisa Ferrie gives us a hand as well as Vivianna Beasley when we need some additional help on the cashiering end.
My Dad passed away in 2004 . Patti Bradley hasn’t worked with us since we went to a computerized system and did not regularly need two people cashiering.
I have always had a wonderful staff and I like to think we are now friends rather than co-workers. There have been a few tough set ups and a couple of rough auctions, but over the years we have had many, many laughs as we worked together. Other than the fact that I am generous to a fault when it comes to paying my staff, I think the fact that we all enjoy working together, is a big factor in staying together.
So what have been the biggest changes over the last 16 years? Moving the summer sales from the Bond Head hall to the Cookstown Curling Club 5 years ago was the first big change. Then of course moving all the sales to Pottageville two years ago, has been a huge change and step forward for us.
Starting my website 7 years ago was another huge step forward. In fact the internet in general has been a big plus for the auction business overall. I spend a lot of time working on photos, doing on-line advertising and promotion, Facebook etc, and I firmly believe it really has paid off. Average attendance at our sales has increased by about 30% over the last 7 years, and I believe the internet is a key tool for reaching new customers.
Another big change has been in the antique market overall. Yes, there are many items that no longer bring the prices they used to, but there are also many items selling very well now, that would have been barely worth trying to sell a few years ago.
The market is always changing. Remember, the antiques market is decor driven. Some items are hot…others are not. That’s the way it has always been and always will be. It is just a matter of trying to stay on top of what is hot, and meeting the demand. This past year we have had record crowds to our auctions, so obviously there is a strong interest in auctions…you just have to make sure you are selling what people want to buy!
So where do I see our auctions going in the future? Well for the next few years I do not see many major changes. I am happy with the direction our sales have taken. There are still areas I need to work on. Particularly I would like to eliminate more of the bottom end items and focus more on the mid-range items. Smaller sales would be nice, but I still have to do a certain dollar value to make the sales feasible. With that in mind, I do have some ideas, so hopefully they will come to pass. However, overall I am pleased with the quality and quantity of items that come our way.
One thing I never want to change, is the over-all experience of our auctions. I want them to continue to be fast paced, friendly and entertaining,, and that is something I will not change. I truly believe auctions should be a fun day or night out. When people enjoy themselves they will come back…hopefully again and again and again!
So I will take this chance to once again thank my wonderful staff who have been with me over the years, my many long time consignors, and of course everyone who continue to attend our auctions.
It has been a great 16 years, I consider myself to be very fortunate, and I truly look forward to many more!