this year is getting off to a very good start!
A big thank you to everyone who turned out for our Feb 23 auction… a record crowd! It was the largest crowd we have ever had at one of our antique consignment auctions. This was a split sale between David Beasley and myself, and will likely become an annual event for us. Feb is a good time of year to put on an extra special auction.
It was wall to wall people, and for the first hour and a half we ran in two rings, and finally sold the last items at 6:00. A large enthusiastic crowd, and even though there are challenges to doing a sale with a very large crowd, it all went off pretty smoothly.
We had some good quality, unique pieces, and the bidding was strong on most of those items. It has become very clear that there is still strong money on good pieces. Primitives, tin toys, good artwork, good furniture…it still is selling well. As an auctioneer my goal is to show people we can get a fair price for those items, and then of course more will come our way. So far, so good!
Technology is playing such a big part in the auction business right now. I have this website of course, and the Facebook page, email list, and several on-line sites I use to promote the auctions, and they are all valuable tools in bringing new buyers out to the sales.
Once people are at the auction, technology comes into play as well. We had a rare, 1920’s tin toy, and ours was missing several parts, but was still a very good piece. I was telling a few people before the auction, that complete versions of this toy, had sold from $2500 to $5000. A young guy beside me took out his iphone, does some quick research, and there is a picture of the complete model listed on ebay with a “buy it now price” of $2999.00 I have seen people emailing photos of pieces at our auctions to friends, and if the friend likes it, they try and bid on it. I know people who research artwork that was not advertised, and they can get results right at the auction. The technology is changing the auction business and it is a change for the good.
However, there is one part of the changing business that I am not ready to embrace right now, and that is advance on-line bidding. Every auction I get emails from people expecting to leave advance bids. I usually do not know who the person is, if they have every been to our auctions, etc. We do not accept credit cards, so I have no way of ensuring that I will be paid if I do bid on their behalf. Then I would have to transport the items back to my house, contact the bidder, set up a time and place to meet etc. I had someone last auction who wanted to leave an advance bid on the largest piece of furniture we had in the sale! That didn’t happen.
My other concern with advance bidding, involves the people who actually do come out to the sale. Some have driven one or two hours to get there. They have the expense of gas, food, plus the time they spend at the auction. Is it fair for them to go to that effort, perhaps wait two or three or more hours at an auction for the piece they want, and then lose out to someone who placed an advance bid on-line? I don’t think so.
I do occasionally take an advance bid from regular customers who have shown up for the preview, but cannot stay for the auction. I do not do it often, but there are times I will do it, because they have made the effort to come to the auction hall, inspect the merchandise and then make a decision.
The point is, I want people to attend the auction. I want them to have the experience of an “old fashioned country auction”. The crowds, the noise, the energy, the anticipation, the social aspect…these are the important ingredients in an auction. That is something I don’t want to change. If you want to bid on-line there is always e-bay, but for now I am going to stick with the traditional auction method.
So now it is time to get back to work. I have consignors to pay, appointments to setup, and much work to do for our March 23 sale.
Have fun on the auction trail!