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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Auction 411 Part 1: What They Are, What They Aren't, and How To Find Them

I've gotten a lot of questions over the last couple of months about auctions.

How to find them...

How to know when and where 
they're happening....

So, I decided to throw together a little series about auctions.

How to find them and what to do (and what not to do) 
when you're there.

I thought about doing it in one whole shebang, 
but that made for one really long post.  

So, I'm breaking it down in three easy to read parts.  :)

Part 1 :  What auctions are, what they aren't, and how to find them.

Part 2 :  Top Ten Dos and Do Nots in Auction Procedure and Etiquette.

Part 3 :  Yay!  I've won!  Now what?

So....  Without further ado...

Part 1:
What they are, what they aren't, and how to find them.

The great thing about auctions is the deals you're sure to find on furniture and vintage items.

If you're buying vintage or antique items from a store, realize that even though these are used goods, you're paying retail prices.

You're paying the retailer for taking the time to travel to the auction, sit through the auction, transport their items home, clean them up, and whatever other overhead they have.

Let's face it, 
they're doing this to make a profit. 
(Which they absolutely should!) 

By buying at auctions, you're getting items at wholesale prices, without paying the middle man.

If you can get passed the fact that most of the time auctions are a way for the family to divide a deceased family member's life possessions, you'll love it.

Sometimes, like the other night, the family has moved their loved one into a nursing home or into an extended care facility.  Maybe they're downsizing to a smaller home and can't take everything with them.  Or sometimes, an older person realizes that have accumulated too much stuff and would like to cash in on their treasures that they've collected over the years.

Whatever the reason, you have to get over that this is someone else's stuff.  They've loved it.  They've used it.  Its been previously owned - but it will be totally new to you.

I admit, it took me a while to get past that.

I have a heart for the elderly.

But you have to 
look at it this way...

Whether you're buying for yourself or buying to makeover and sell, you're giving life to old things that otherwise might not be appreciated or might wind up thrown into a landfill.  And whether you're keeping it or passing it on, the stuff you buy will be loved and treasured again.

Personally, I'm drawn to the history of the items.  

What they have seen...  

Who's owned them...  

Where they've come from.  

It intrigues me.  

If only inanimate objects could talk!

And let's face it...  Stuff just isn't made like it used to be.  

These items have survived the ages
and will survive the ages to come.  

That in and of itself, makes it worth it.

What are auctions not?

Auctions are NOT like garage sales.

Auctions are NOT like Craigslist.

The long and short of it?

You're not there to haggle.

You're there to win.

You may not get a super cheap price on something, depending upon the interest of the crowd.  And most of the time, you're bidding against people who know their stuff - sometimes, better than you do.

Don't expect to always get the bottom dollar on pieces.  

The cost is totally based on who wants the item more.  

Is it you or is it them?  

What are you willing to pay?

And sometimes, there are family members that aren't too happy that items are being auctioned off.  I've seen police officers at an auction to keep the peace.  Be prepared to tick off a family member or two, if you win.  It doesn't happen most of the time, but you never know.  Most times, we back off of an item if we know its a family member bidding on it.  That though, is completely up to you.  Sometimes you don't realize it.  That's okay.  The whole point is about who is willing to pay more.

Auctions are NOT like Ebay.

At all.

You think you get a thrill from winning an online bid?  There's nothing like actually being able to put your hands on what you're bidding on.  Most of the time there is no reserve.  If there is, the auctioneer will tell you upfront.  And you're totally in the thick of it with other bidders.  There's no anonymity at a live auction!  Be prepared to go head to head with someone that could be standing right next to you.

Good times!

So, you want to go to an auction.  

Well, how do you find one?

How To Find An Auction

1.  Check your local newspaper.

In the classifieds, usually there's an announcement that so and so is having an auction at so and so place, at such and such time.  Usually they will have a list of items that will be up for auction, just to draw a larger crowd.  More advertising means a bigger draw.  You can also find estate sales this way.

(Word of warning:  Estate sales generally have A LOT of family members there who want items for sentimental value.  Items tend to go for a little (or A LOT) higher.  Not all the time, but sometimes.  This can happen at auctions too, but not nearly as often.  I tend to steer clear of estate sales, just because of the family aspect.)

2.  The Internet.

Find out the names of local auction dealers in your area.  You can do this with a Google search.  Sometimes, your local auctioneers will have an internet site that lists dates, times, and locations of auctions.  Sometimes they will list the auction items and some include pictures of the items.  Most of the time, they have a weekly auction night, you just have to figure out when it is.

3.  Flyers.

Sometimes auctioneers will advertise auctions this way too.  Look through the posting boards at gas stations to see if they have any flyers posted or at your local community center.

And that's all there is to it.  

A little bit of research and you will be on your way 
to your very first auction!

The great thing about auctions is, they are available to everyone.  

No special invite needed!

So what are you waiting for?!
Go find out when your next local auction is...

I'll tell you what you do when you get there.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next part of the series... 

The Auction 411  

Part 2:  

The Top Ten Dos and Do Nots 
in Auction Procedure and Etiquette.


Disclaimer:  I am by no means an expert.  Auctions vary from state to state, town to town.  I'm posting from a small town perspective, so there may be differing opinions/etiquette depending upon where you live.  It is YOUR job to find out proper procedure and etiquette in your area.  Never go by the word of someone else.  Do your homework!  ;)


Bliss said...

Hand over the couch and no one gets hurt.


art is beauty said...

Oh BLISS ^^^^^ I was gonna say the same thing!! Thank you Laura...Maybe someday I will get the courage and the energy to go to a live auction!!
Thank you for doing all this for us!!

P.j. said...

Did you buy that couch? I'm not usually into vintage sofas because they're often not as comfortable as newer styles. But I'd go head-to-head in a bidding war to get it! The uphostery looks pretty good, too. Nice score--assuming it's yours!

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