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January 28, 2013
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it really is the best policy.

I just came back from looking at some very nice furniture and sterling silver, and I won’t be getting any of it for my auctions….and I am fine with that. There are times when the auctions are not the route to go for some sellers. I was looking at a very good dining suite that was appraised at $10,000 several years ago, and then reappraised at $5000 just a couple of years ago, and my appraisal of it now, was much less than that .  Likely not even half. They are a very nice elderly couple, and I told them up front I would not be comfortable trying to sell it for them.  I simply do not believe they would be happy with the results. They also had a collection of sterling silver, and they have another option of selling it. They will probably realize more money than I can get for them, and I can’t stand there and honestly tell them they would be better off dealing with me. After we all agreed the auction would not likely work for them, they told me about their dealings with another auction company about 15 years ago.  They were not pleased with the selling price, and then to make matters worse, they did not understand all the additional fees.  (fees that I don’t charge). They just did not understand what they were getting into. So 15 years later they are still telling that story, and including the auctioneer’s name, and I have to wonder how many people they have told that story to over the last 15 years? I make a point of being very upfront with people who are thinking of selling, and I have to get a feel for the seller.  If it is not right for them, there are usually red flags I pick up on during the course of the conversation.  That’s when I have to be honest, and sometimes I am telling them something they don’t want to hear, but in nearly all cases, they do thank me for my honesty. I leave them a business card, and walk away on good terms. I am picking up a very nice load of items this week from one consignor, and I already told them, they were not likely to get what they paid for their items. They bought some very nice pieces, but through their own admission, they purchased most of it through retail outlets in the last few years.  They went on a buying binge, filled their home with these very nice items, but now they are drastically downsizing and want them to go.  They are selling an expensive piece of real estate, and they want to “declutter” the house for staging purposes. These are motivated sellers with realistic expectations, and chances are they are going to be pleased with the results.  My kind of consignor. Last night I got a phone call from a consignor in the January auction, and she could not believe what her items sold for….total sales about three times higher than she expected!  I must admit some her items sold very well…I was even surprised with a few pieces.  However, she had the right pieces in the right sale, and it worked well for her. The auction method can be a very good way of selling your antiques and collectables, but it all depends on the seller’s expectations.  It doesn’t work for everyone, even though I wish it would.  We have had 100’s of satisfied consignors over the years, and then of course we have had disappointed consignors.  There are times when I scratch my head and wonder why some items just don’t bring the money. The point is, I feel obligated to make sure people understand the auction process, the up side and the down side.  I will suggest a conservative selling price, but I strongly stress there is no guarantee, and they must be willing to take a chance. That’s what an auction is all about.
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