When It Comes Time To Sell Your Antiques….

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don’t shoot the messenger!

I just got off the phone, and it was a rather interesting call. A lady has a large collection of a particular type of china she wishes to sell.  She built this collection over 30 years, and now for the first time she wants to sell.  She has never tried selling antiques before, and she told me she was quite upset with a dealer she had just spoken to.  Basically he said he wanted $100 to come out and look at her pieces and take photos.  He then told her over the phone that she would not get what she paid for the items. She was upset when she phoned me and I could hear the frustration and anger in her voice.  I advised her,  since she already had prices in mind for the items, there was no point in calling someone out to give her the news she did not want to hear, and then charge her for it! I advised her to try selling privately, use the free on-line buy and sell sites, and see what kind of response she got.  She was adamant she did not want to do that, she just wanted someone to come in and buy her collection.  She then proceeded to tell me how rare and valuable her collection was, and how offended she was when the dealer told her otherwise.  She told me she could not understand why someone was telling her that her 30 year collection may not be worth what she thinks.  She proceeded to tell me again, how rare these pieces are.  While we were talking, I did a quick search on ebay, and informed her at the moment, there were over 7000 pieces of this china now for sale on ebay.  There was a pause… Here’s the point I want to make.  When the time comes you want to sell your antiques, you may have to do a little work.  Just because you are ready to sell, does not mean the dealers are going to line up with wheelbarrows full of cash to buy your items.  You have to wholesale to a dealer…you can’t expect list price, and you cannot be offended if they are not interested in your items.  If you believe your items are worth a certain price, then you have to go out and find the buyers.  If no one is willing to pay, you may have to accept that your items are only worth that to you…and perhaps no one else.  Hard pill to swallow, but that could be the reality.  You can’t get angry because other people do not attach the same monetary value to your items as you do.  You also can’t expect someone else to do all the work and you reap all the rewards. She then asked me if I thought they would do well in one of my auctions.  Without looking at any of the pieces, I told her I did not think that was the way for her to go.  I made the judgment call, not on the items for sale, but instead on the person wanting to sell.  If someone is out of touch with the current antique market, and is not willing to admit or listen, then I really don’t want to be selling for them.  Warning flags were going up all over, just through our telephone call.  Someone like that is not going to be happy with whatever you sell for them, and I make a point of not doing business with them.  My next auction has 28 consignors involved, and everything is to be sold without reserve.  Personally I don’t need the aggravation of selling for someone who is not willing to have their items sell at current market value. So again my point is, when you wish to sell, do some research and have some understanding of the current market, and then base your price on that.  If you are calling in dealers, tell them upfront what you have and what you want, and leave them some room to make a profit. If you want to retail your items, then you are going to have to do some work, and find the buyers. If you simply want to sell, and are willing to accept the average (and sometimes on a good sale, above average) current selling price for your items….then call me! Rob

Thanks Again!

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another good sale…one more left in our season!

Thanks to everyone who attended our Oct24 auction in Bond Head!  Another very full sale…approx. 650 lots sold, and a good crowd as well! It is amazing how much we can get into that hall, and we set the sale up in 13 hours, so I was ok with that. My big concern was accommodating the crowd.  I get used to the big crowds and plenty of room in Cookstown.  The night before the auction I awoke at 3:30 am, and lay awake for over an hour wondering how I was going to accommodate the crowd when I had so much furniture in the hall!  Even though we have done over 150 auctions in that hall and never had a serious problem with overcrowding (ok it’s been close a few times), I still worried. I got up early and went to the hall and started to make a few changes.  Moved some pieces downstairs and that solved the problem. I put out chairs and all the regulars grabbed one and reserved themselves a spot for the auction.  For the most part, people find a comfortable spot to stand or sit, and they are there for the duration. Our big concern is damage to the fairly new floor, but once again we passed inspection so everything is a go for the next auction. Many people ask why I don’t find a bigger hall for the winter and spring auctions, and the answer is simple.  It is hard to find a good building for an auction.  You need an easy to find location, parking, food booth facilities, washrooms etc.  I want to keep a country location on a major highway, which is easy to find.  Bond Head meets that criterion.  It has worked well for me for 13 years now, and despite the fact that the rent has increased 175% in the last three years, it still is viable for me.  I just have to make sure the dollar value of the auction is strong enough to make it worth while.  Fortunately that has not been a problem for me…there is plenty of good merchandise coming in! I am planning on making the Bond Head sales a little smaller, but increase the overall quality.  It takes time to clean up the backlog of lower end small items I have in storage, but that is going to happen. So once again I look forward to our late fall, winter and spring season in Bond Head…the little hall where it all started for me! Have fun on the auction trail and hope to see you at our next offering! Rob

Back To Bond Head!

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and some thoughts on one part of my business

Getting ready now for the next sale on Saturday Oct 24th, back in Bond Head.  We had a great May-September in Cookstown this year.  Record sales, record crowds…I couldn’t ask for anything more! However, I also look forward to going back to Bond Head.  That’s where it all started for me 13 years ago, and we have done over 150 sales in that hall.  It is quite a bit smaller than Cookstown, but it makes for a more intimate feel.  The crowd is all around where I am selling, and we have a nice stage area close to the crowd….for an auctioneer, it is a good place to sell.  It is easy to connect with the crowd…you can joke around a little more because it is easy to be heard, and overall I feel we can make the sale a little more fun!  If you haven’t been to Bond Head auctions, please check us out on the Saturday Oct 24th auction. Oh yeah, that’s another thing.  Saturdays now instead of our traditional Friday night auctions.  Due to scheduling conflicts the hall is not available Thursdays, and that is when we set up for the Friday night auction.   Ours is a long setup and I can’t do it the same day as the auction, so we are moving to Saturdays.  I think that is going to be a nice change, and I am looking forward to it. A big part of my business is selling the antique contents of an estate.  We don’t do the household items, but instead remove the antique contents.  I have been dealing with a very nice woman, whose mother recently passed away.  Because the daughter is from out of province, affairs had to be settled quickly.  We were removing the antique contents within a week of her mother’s passing.  That is difficult for a family member to do, but there are times when you really don’t have much choice.  She told me she felt like she was breaking up her parents longtime antique collection, but there really wasn’t a viable alternative. I am sympathetic to that.  These are items that were collected by someone and those items were important to them.  And now after thirty or forty years, they are being sold off.  It’s more than just “stuff”…these pieces were a part of someone’s life. As some sort of comfort, I told her these were pieces her parents gathered from various auctions over the years, and they made them part of their life.  And now they will go back to auction, someone will buy them and make them part of their life.  The cycle repeats itself once again. The point is, antiques are more than just merchandise.  They belonged to someone…sometimes many different people, and there is a story and history with each piece.  Sometimes the original history and stories get lost, but every time a piece is purchased, another story will be attached to it. I was a collector before I became an antique dealer, and an antique dealer before I became an auctioneer.  It has always been more than just merchandise to me, especially when I remove items directly from the home.  I try and make sure my enthusiasm for the “product” doesn’t overshadow the sentiment and emotion many people feel when they have to part with important items to them. Have fun on the auction trail….enjoy and appreciate the special items you acquire. Rob

Friday Sept 25th Auction

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from almost nothing to a full sale in two weeks!

Getting ready now to start the setup for the Friday Sept25 auction.  Start taking loads down Wednesday and then the full crew come in for the Thursday setup.  I have a very busy 5 days ahead of me! (we are also doing a rug auction on Sunday) This has been an interesting sale so far for me.  I booked the hall just before our Aug 31 auction, and at that time I had a collection of Playboy magazines, the collection of framed autographs….and that was it! I basically had just a couple of weeks to put the sale together, and during those couple of weeks I worked the entire labour day weekend and then the following weekend.  This was not leaving me much time to get a sale together!  It was occurring to me that for the first time in 13 years I may not have much to sell! And then the phone started ringing…and ringing…and ringing.  Merchandise was literally coming in by the truckload, and suddenly I was behind!  In the course of three days I did several pickups and prepared over 150 pictures for the website.  I was either picking up stuff or taking pictures of it, so it meant a few long days getting it all together. However, obviously it did all come together, and for the last few days I have been turning down items and booking others into the Oct 24thauction.  That is the interesting thing about this business…you never know when and where the merchandise is going to come from, and it still amazes me the quality of some of the items that come our way! There are a lot of items that interest me in this auction, but most of all, I am curious to see how the framed autographs are going to do.  I have boxes of framed autographs from some of the biggest stars in the world, and for a month they have been sitting in my storage.  I was amazed when I was doing the photos at the broad extent of this collection, and it all came from one private collector.  It’s going to be interesting! This is our last sale of the season in Cookstown and then back to Bond Head for Oct24th.  This year we will be doing it a little differently in Bond Head.  Saturday sales instead of Friday nights, and I am planning to cut back on the quantity of low end items we have.  It works well in Cookstown, but we don’t have the same amount of room in Bond Head, so the focus will be on quality rather than quantity. So I hope you can make it to our final sale of the season in Cookstown…it has been a record summer for us and I look forward now to the fall and winter months! Have fun on the auction trail! Rob IF YOU WISH TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE OR ANY OTHER ARTICLE YOU CAN EMAIL ME AT robs@robsageauctions.com   YOUR COMMENTS WILL NOT BE MADE PUBLIC

Aug 31 Auction Summary

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some behind the scenes statistics for you!

Thanks once again to everyone who attended the Aug 31 auction.  Another good sale, and I have to admit, this has been a very good year for us so far!  A record August sale for us, and a record number of visits to our web site.  I would have to think there is a connection between the two. One of things I enjoy is breaking down the auction statistics.  This sale we had 195 registered bidders, and 145 buyers.  74% bought something at the auction, and this I believe is due to the incredible variety of items we offer.  Because we are selling in two rings we can offer this sort of variety.  We sold everything from a gas station pump to Moorcroft pottery…I think that constitutes variety! It also amazes me where everyone comes from.  52% come from within one half hour drive of Cookstown.  The GTA accounts for 9%, and the remaining 39% come from all over the province. Orangeville, Goderich, Uxbridge, Guelph, Oshawa, Sundridge, Brighton, Ajax, Kitchener, Port Hope, Sudbury, to name a few, plus other places I have never heard of! There is no doubt people will drive a couple of hours or more to an auction if something interests them. We sold a total of 826 lots, which so far this year, brings our total to 5050 lots.  We have only held seven auctions so far, so it averages 721 lots per auction.  Of course they will be a little smaller when we are back to Bond Head and selling in one ring throughout the night.  But not much smaller! This year I decided to hold larger auctions in Cookstown using two auction rings and making full use of the space we have.  I did fewer sales in Bond Head, but concentrated on quality rather than quantity, and that has worked out very well for us.  It is expensive to put on the kind of auctions we do, so you have to go big to make it pay! I started moving items to the hall myself on Friday and Saturday, and then the full crew came in on Sunday.  There are six of us who set up on Sunday along with help from some of the consignors.  We start at 8:00 am and by around 3:00 pm I send most of the staff home and Mom and I work for a few more hours.  Mom and I come in Monday morning for another four hours, take a couple of hours to eat and get changed, and then come back to the hall for 3:30.  The preview starts at 4:00, and by the time the auction is over, and the cashiering complete, we leave the hall about 1:00 am.  Tuesday morning back to the hall for 10:00 am to help people pick up and load the purchases from the night before.  Then the hall has to be cleaned and put in order, and usually we leave around 2:00 pm.  After this there is another 8 hours of paperwork, and finally the sale is “put to bed”. Done! Now its time to start picking up and getting ready for the next auction! And I still have people ask why I only do one sale a month?   On the scale we operate on, one sale is plenty! Hope you can make it for our Sept 25th auction. Rob IF YOU WISH TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE OR ANY OTHER ARTICLE YOU CAN EMAIL ME AT robs@robsageauctions.com   YOUR COMMENTS WILL NOT BE MADE PUBLIC

A Good Auction For Both Buyers And Sellers?

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Yes…it can work for both!

This year we have been having a good year with our auction business.  There have been some very good quality items coming our way, and overall the prices have been strong.  Not what I expected going into this year, with the recession and all, but I am glad it is happening! Recently a dealer said to me, “you are becoming THE auction to buy and sell through”.  That was a nice compliment and I am certainly glad to hear that sort of feedback.  Before my head becomes too big, let me just remind myself, that was only one person’s opinion, but it did prompt me to think about a few things. A person may rightfully ask how a certain auction can be a good place to both buy and sell?  If it is a good place to buy, than perhaps it is not a good place to sell?   Or vice versa. I believe you can have an auction that benefits both buyers and sellers.  My auctions usually consist of consignments from estates, private sellers, and dealers.  Dealers may use the auction to liquidate inventory, or is some cases, dealers may “pick” just for the auction.  They can buy some items that sell better through auction than they would in their store or booth.  A dealer recently put a load of “rough and as found” items through my auction and was quite pleased that they only lost $3 on the entire load.  These were items they bought with the intentions of restoring and just didn’t get around to doing, so they put them through auction.  They didn’t consign to make money, they were just happy to get their money back, and move on.  Of course other people now own the items and they may get restored and provide someone with a nice profit. Some dealers buy just to put through auction and because they don’t have to factor in overhead in the price, they are happy with a reasonable return on their items.  They make their money through volume sales. With estates, often it is simply a case of removing the items from the home so the estate can be settled. Most cases involve the real estate having been sold, so the antique household contents are not the “big money” items in the estate.  I recently sold some very nice items from a Toronto estate for about $4000.  However, the house went on the market and sold in a day for $650,000.  The antique contents that were important to me, and of course to the persons who bought them, really were not significant to the overall estate.  However, I often do get estate items that hold great sentimental value to some family members, but they simply cannot accommodate them, so they are happy to see them go to another home.   One woman recently told me she got great comfort from coming to the auction and seeing her mother’s items sell to enthusiastic and appreciative buyers. The final source for many items recently has been the 50 plus generation and their parents downsizing.  Many people have accumulated nice antiques over the last 30 years, but tastes do change, as well as lifestyles, so it is time to part with these items.  Some people do a complete change in their décor.  One consignor recently moved from an old Victorian home filled with antiques to a brand new home filled with completely new furniture.  She simply said it was time for a change, and now the items can move onto new owners. Most times people ask me for an estimate as to what the items may bring in auction.  I quote them what I feel are realistic prices based on what I have sold or have seen sell through auction recently.  I will not knowingly over estimate the value of a good item, just to ensure I get it for auction, and then apologize later because it sold for a fraction of what I estimated.  I make sure potential consignors understand there is a risk, there are no guarantees as to price, we will simply do the best we can for them.  The market will decide the price and they must be prepared for that.  I have sold on behalf of 100’s of consignors over the years, and even though there are at times disappointments, I have had very few people complain about the final results through the auction. So, I believe you can have a good auction for both buyers and sellers.  When you have a knowledgeable realistic seller, and knowledgeable buyers, it can work well for everyone! Rob IF YOU WISH TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE OR ANY OTHER ARTICLE YOU CAN EMAIL ME AT robs@robsageauctions.com   YOUR COMMENTS WILL NOT BE MADE PUBLIC