Ebay, the most popular online auction
site, claims to have about 100 million active buyers and sellers. However, with
all the emphasis on internet based auctions, you may have forgotten that many of
the best deals are found at live auctions. In fact, online auction spending only
represents a small percentage of all the money spent at live events. People are
interested in auctions for a variety of reasons. Many are looking for better
prices than those found in retail, but other auction goers will tell you they
attend because live auctions because of the atmosphere. Unlike an online auction
you can touch and inspect the merchandise, and you are also looking at the
people bidding against you. Attending a live auction can be a very rewarding
High bids for hand in marriage.
In Roman times it was a common practice to buy a spouse at auction, where beauty
of the potential spouse drove the bids. Another example of wares sold at auction
were the spoils from battle. Things the army captured could be auctioned off
back home for a profit. Today, you may not be able to purchase a spouse at a
live auction, but there is a good chance you have attended an auction. More than
half of the total U.S. population has attended a live auction. Live auctions
generate well over $250 billion in sales each year. Compare that to about $10
billion for online auctions!
What can you find at a live auction?
A better question may be what can’t you find! You’ll find household goods,
holiday decorations, cars, homes, tools, furniture, antiques, collectibles,
jewelry, and appliances just for starters. There is something for everyone, from
necessities to hobby items. Angie Bowser wasn’t a stranger to buying things at
online auctions, but she had never been to a live auction. Angie noticed
something about larger items that many auction goers have found out. No shipping
charges! When you browse online auctions you can find larger items at low
starting bids, however, the problem is when you live in California and the item
is located in Maine. At a live auction the item is there for you to personally
pick up. Essentially you can find a live auction that sells the same things you
can find online, but you have the advantage of physically inspecting the items.
Want a deal? Look over here.
Jenny Seers and her friend Sarah Barkus had recently moved into a new apartment.
They loved the apartment, but they soon discovered 1) they had a lot of empty
space and 2) they owned very little furniture. They visited several local stores
and were surprised at the high cost of new furniture and home accessories. One
of their new neighbors suggested that they visit the Goodwill store, which they
did the following Saturday. They found that while there was plenty of great
clothing choices there just didn’t seem to be as much choice when it came to the
donated furniture. Finally, the took the advice of Jenny’s boss.
Jenny’s boss, Vic, loved attending auctions. In fact, he told Jenny, he had
furnished two of the rooms in his home strictly with deals found at auction, for
a fraction of store costs! Jenny took Sarah to a live auction in Butler County,
Pennsylvania, not far from their home. They asked an auction employee for help
and she was happy to show them how to register, view the products, and bid. Once
Jenny and Sarah looked at the items for bid, they became very excited to see
bedroom, living room, and dining room furniture for sale in addition to
kitchenware, dishes, and pictures. They only had $300.00, and weren’t sure they
would even be able to bid against this crowd. However, by the end of the night
they couldn’t believe what they bought.
With their $300.00 not only did Jenny and Sarah get a set of dishes ($25.00), 3
hanging pictures ($5.00 each), a vacuum in new condition ($10.00), and a
refrigerator ($55.00), but they had just bought a beautiful dining room table
with 6 chairs and a matching buffet for $175.00! Only one other person bid, and
he stopped bidding at $150.00! They knew this set would have cost $2.000.00 in
the furniture store. The audience even applauded for them and the deal they had
just received! Many more people, just like Jenny and Sarah, have discovered that
a live auction is a great alternative to new merchandise prices in the retail
Stand up auctioneering.
Looking for cheap alternative to the comedy repeats on TV tonight? Try a live
auction! One aspect of a live auction that some people may not be aware of is
the entertainment factor. At many auctions both the auctioneer and the audience
are sources of entertainment. A great auctioneer not only controls the bidding
with his bid calling and cadence, but has a quick, Jerry Seinfeld type of wit
that allows him or her to call out fun observations and comments about both the
merchandise and the bidders!
Then there are audiences that provide excitement as well. Some auctions seem to
bring out a bidding frenzy in bidders. There may be items that are so appealing
to the bidders that they get into a hurried, charged bidding battle, and the
emotion and bids really start to fly! You can often see this phenomena of
auction fever in which bidders are driven to win at auctions that sell specialty
items like antiques, dolls, coins, or guns. There is nothing wrong with
attending an auction just for an evening of free, fun entertainment.
Looking for treasure?
Auctions also bring out the treasure hunters. This group is looking for that
extra copy of the Declaration of Independence behind some cheap framed picture.
However, it is best not to plan on finding that diamond in the coal. Auctioneers
are also professional appraisers and are well versed in the value of just about
anything that can be sold at auction. Even if they were to run across something
that is one of a kind, a professional auctioneer will have contacts to turn to
who can help assess the true worth of the item to be sold.
Where can you find a live auction?
There are plenty of places to visit a live auction. Some auction services move
items into their own building and conduct the auction inside their own facility
rather than in the home or business of the person whose things are being
auctioned. Estate sales are often held in a person’s home and can be conducted
in an auction style format.
Other out of the ordinary auctions are held by the IRS, police stations, and
storage units, for example. There are hundreds of lost and found items auctioned
off by airports through the state’s surplus property program, lost bicycles at
police stations, and household items left behind in abandoned storage units.
Charitable organizations such as animal shelters will hold auctions to raise
money from donations they receive. Businesses may donate goods, service, or
coupons and the charity will hold a community auction in order to turn those
items into much more cash. An example was the Skates and Plates Charity Auction
held by the Pittsburgh Penguins who donated autographed aprons. Civic
organizations, neighborhood associations, and churches will hold similar events.
Your local magistrate and sheriff may also hold auctions. Sheriff sales are
primarily for real estate. District magistrates may have constables confiscate
property from those who must pay for a judgment against them. That property is
sold at auction and the proceeds go to the beneficiary of the judgment.
A great online source for finding live auctions near you is AuctionZip.com. This
website claims to have well over 1 million users per month. Their search engine
allows you to select the location you are interested in visiting and the type of
items you are looking for.
Once you’ve placed the winning bid, you are assuming the responsibility to pay
for the item and move it. There are no merchandise returns at an auction. That
is why you should arrive before the bidding starts. Auctions will have a preview
period of time where you can inspect the merchandise for sale.
Ask for help if you need it when turning something on like a television or lawn
mower. Things sold at auction are sold without a warranty. So even if the item
was working at the auction, but not when you got home, you can not return it.
Also be wary of what the auctioneer’s assistants are saying and doing during the
auction. Part of their job is to talk up the merchandise and make it look more
attractive. While the bidding is going on they may be enthusiastically
describing the merchandise in a manner that builds your excitement and entices
you to bid. Be sure your opinion of the item is what drives your bid.
A value packed experience.
Live auctions are a great place to save money. At an “absolute” auction items
are sold regardless of how low the bidding is. That means if a $2,000.00 dining
room table only retrieves a $175.00 bid it will be sold for that amount. Unlike
online auctions that can go on for days, the sale at a live auction is completed
that day. You can pay for your item and take it home with you immediately. If
you are on a tight budget, but need things for your home remember how well Jenny
and Sarah did for under $300.00.
Auctions don’t just happen at an auction house anymore. Charities, police, and
even storage facilities offer auction shopping opportunities. You can expect to
find both typical and unique items at a live auction, however, one thing you may
not have expected to find is the free entertainment. Many auctioneers are quite
humorous and fun to listen to. Auctions can also be a social and learning event,
providing a forum to spend time with your friends and family as well as discover
new facts about the items for sale.