and to think I was a mere child of 40 when I started!
Another year rolls around, and here it is, coming up to our 17th anniversary. I know this is very cliché, but it is true, the years have gone by so quickly!
I still remember that first auction. The Bond Head Community centre is where it all started for us, and we continued doing sales there for 14 years.
It was a small hall with very little room for sitting, and we would do up to 700 lot sales in that tiny hall! People would stand shoulder to shoulder for hours…in fact we had sales that started at 6:00 on a Friday night and would sometimes last until after midnight…one even lasted until 1:30 am!
The first sale consisted mostly of my stuff, along with a couple of other consignors. I wanted to start off with reasonable quality items, and when you are new to the business, consignors are not going to give you good items for your first sale.
As the sale date grew closer, I was almost hoping some calamity would strike me and I wouldn’t be able to do the sale…however, there was no calamity and no turning back.
Of course I was nervous…and very serious…but I got through the first sale and it actually went quite well. I have been fortunate through the last 17 years, because I have never had a truly bad sale. Some not as good as others of course, but the sales of 17 years ago where not much different than the sales I have now. Lots of stuff…good crowds…overall good prices…I have been fortunate since day one. And for a bit of trivia…over the last 17 years we have sold over 110,000 lots!
I have also been very fortunate to have a great staff since day one. David and Carol Beasley have been with me since day one, and of course Mom doing clerking and setup, and for the first 7 years Dad worked with us setting up the sales. (Dad passed away in 2004). My brother Brian has been a handler/clerk since the beginning and my sister Kris and brother-in-law Gerry have done a great job with the food booth since the very beginning. Donnie Garner came on board over ten years ago, followed by Charlie McAteer a few years later, and now we have David and Sue Niven, and Lisa Ferrie helping out at most sales. A great staff is the back bone of a good auction!
Of course there have been changes in the auction business over the years. The biggest change is technology. When I think of the old time auctioneers in the business when I was much younger…Ernie Severn, Alan Horner, John Ball, Chester Baird, just to name a few, I can just imagine the look on their faces if I told them about running an auction in the not too distant future. Computer listing, personal websites, digital pictures, email lists, Facebook pages, Twitter, on-line selling…and most of this just coming about in the last several years. A long way from the old days when you went to the consignors with a pen and paper, made the listing and then drove to the newspaper office to place the ad. Simpler, not as much work, but maybe not as effective as the way we conduct business today.
And speaking of computers. Back in the mid-1990’s a friend of mine suggested I try setting up a webpage for my business. I told him I thought auction goers where print orientated and I could not see the value of a website. So much for my ability to see into the future!
Naturally there have been other changes over the years. Customers, consignors and dealers come and go. Prices change, and that is very evident over the last few years. Some items are up in value and some items are down. I now look for some items I wouldn’t have considered a few years ago, while some of the hot items ten years ago, I am reluctant to take any more.
We have moved our location of course. Started doing summer sales in the Cookstown Curling club, and then back to Bond Head for the fall, winter and spring sales. When we could no longer use the curling club, we moved all the sales to Pottageville and that has worked extremely well for us.
I am considering a second location to use when Pottageville hall is booked and not available, and I will have more details on that in the future for you.
So looking back on the last 17 years I have to say it has been an interesting and rewarding journey. No regrets, and I can honestly say it is a great way to make a living!
There are challenges on the horizon and changes to be made, but it has always been that way. All businesses must change and adapt in order to survive and move ahead, and the auction business is no exception.
If you have been a long time customer or consignor, I thank you very much. If you are new to our auctions, I also thank you very much, and hope you will continue to be with us for many years.
On behalf of my staff and myself, I thank you for the fun times, the friendships we have made, the excitement that is part of an old fashioned country auction!
There are interesting and exciting times ahead of us, and I hope you will continue to share and grow with us!