We are all fellow ebayers. We love a bargain, finding that long sought treasure, that rare gold mine, that long lost item from yesteryear. Whether seller or buyer, we hunt for that once in a lifetime item that is ever so elusive. But where do we hunt for it?
While many love going to tag, yard, garage, estate, community wide sales, and thrift stores, I will focus on a different arena...the auction. No, not the auctions we find here on ebay with a HIGHEST BIDDER, but auctions in the community.
"What of it, why should I plan on going to an auction? And what kind of planning does it take, anyway?" you might be inclined to ask. And am I glad you did ask!
Numerous things should be considered before making a trip. Researching carefully on the things listed below could make an auction a much more beneficial and enjoyable experience for you.
FIRST: What are you going to the auction for? What do you intend to bid on? Set a basic budget and how much you would like to spend on items. Read the auction bill over thoroughly, look up the sale on the internet if they have it listed. Call and ask questions if they provide a phone number, email with questions if they have an email address listed. Read up on the items, google them, know their value before you go.
SECOND: Where is the auction? Is it in an auction house, in a barn, out in the open? Is there air conditioning or heating, or will it be outside in the heat or cold? Take plenty of bottled water along if it's out in the heat with little shade. Wear plenty of sunscreen if it's in the sunlight. Dress quite warmly if it's to be held in the cold. Lawn chairs could be helpful, too, or blankets to sit on.
THIRD: Is there plenty of parking close by? Will you have to walk a spell to get to your destination? How will you get your treasures back to your vehicle? Do you need to take a wagon or something to help you carry it all? Or will you wait until everyone leaves and back your vehicle up to load everything?
FOURTH: What kind of vehicle do you have? Do you have a VW or a pick up tuck? We have seen the most adorable older fella with a royal blue VW going to auctions, and he really gets more stuff packed in it than we thought humanly possible, but we do prefer taking our van and pick up along! You may need to find out the policy of taking larger items like furniture home the next day if you don't have a pick up.
FIFTH: How will you get your items safely from the auction to their destination? Most auctions will have quite a number of boxes, newspapers, flats, some may have bubble wrap, old patterns, tissue paper, etc. available. But you would benefit a great deal from taking your own boxes or plastic tubs with lids. Packing peanuts and bubble wrap are always in demand, whether it be at an auction or a yard sale. And remember, try not to pack anything that is not easily washed with newspaper, as the ink may rub off and stain your items.
SIXTH: Will you be there over breakfast, lunch, or supper? Most auctions in our area do provide meals such as hot dogs, burgers, sloppy joes, pies, candy bars, chips, and drinks. Churches and other organizations often offer food as fundraisers, so you may need to have enough cash to cover the meals and snacks for the duration of the auction. You may check this out and make sure you will have something in your stomach. A rumbly tumbly can be rather distracting when you are trying to bid on that amazing Fenton glass, comic book, sports card, Frankoma Pottery, antique tool, Homer Laughlin china, Fisher Price toy, or whatever it is that you have your sight set on.
Ok, so now you know a little about how to prepare for an auction. You have the water and the boxes, the sunscreen and the cash for the food. What else might you need before you start out on this fun adventure?
1. Don't forget to get gas in the vehicle in advance. It's not funny to get halfway there in the middle of nowhere and realize you are almost out of gas. Also, have a map or other directions available if it's in unknown territory.
2. Plan on arriving EARLY. You will need to find a place to park, and mostly, look over the items you want to bid on. Check for stains, tears, and irregularities in fabric items, chips and cracks in glass, china, and pottery items. Make sure all the pieces are there, there's little or no damage to any of it. Check to see if the original box is available if necessary. Talk with the family if they are available to see if they can give any insight on items, where they came from, how old they are, etc. We always like to set aside at least 30 minutes to look at items, sometimes even an hour would be nice to browse. You will need to register and get your bidding number, showing an id and giving your name, address, and phone number before you will be allowed to bid on anything, so it helps to have that out of the way before the auction even begins.
In order to look things over thoroughly and keep track of what you win, you might need a few little things:
a. Magnifying glass to look at how things are labeled or marked on the bottom.
b. Small flashlight to help you see any flaws better. Some auction houses are very poorly lit, and the auctioneers may not appreciate you taking every item outside in the sunlight to inspect them.
c. Pen and paper to keep track of what you win and how much you will be paying. Many people use the back of the bidding number cards to write down their items and how much they will need to pay, but some of the cards do not have much space to write on.
3. Items for kids to keep entertained with! I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have small items such as crayons and books, game boys, small animals, cars, Barbies or Polly Pockets, and other such quiet things for your child to play with if you are taking him/her along. Auctions can be very, very boring for a child, so to avoid the child getting into trouble, help keep him/her entertained while at the auction. Some auctions will have an area where kids will have room to run around a little, while others aren't set up to accomodate kids as well.
4. Your CELL PHONE, charged! Yes, the cell phone has become quite an important tool in our auction attending. I will be at home while hubby is at an auction. He will call me to see the value of something and I will quickly research on ebay or google. That has saved us quite a few purchases that would have been more than what we should have paid.
As you get more familiar with auctions and each individual auctioneer, you will learn which ones will accept a lower bid than what they would really prefer to start at. We will sometimes hold up 1 finger indicating we'll start at $ 1.00 if he's trying to start at $ 2.50 and we really don't want to pay that, and likewise for $ 5.00, and so on.
The auctioneers will each have his own style of running an auction. Some will sell whole boxes of stuff several at a time, depending on the items. Others will give you a choice of individual item/piece/box on the table or trailer. Watch closely, pay attention to how he starts his bidding process. Know what you are bidding on. Listen closely to his lingo, each one is different. Listen to whether he is taking bids for only one item, or the whole lot on the table in front of him. Ask first if you are unsure. It took us a few auctions to be able to tell what the guy was saying, let alone what he meant when he was saying it! He might say something like "Choice piece" or "All for one money", so it would benefit you to know what he means when he says this!
And last but not least, we strongly advise you take items out to your vehicle and lock them up as soon as possible. Most auctioneers will allow you to do this, but you might need to check on their policy just in case they require payment before removal of merchandise. We have unfortunately been to numerous auctions where people will steal items that are stored on the tables or elsewhere. It is quite disappointing to get home and find out you have an item or two missing that you paid for, and you know good and well that you had it in your pile of stuff.
So there you have it, Going to Auctions 101. We hope you have lots of fun planning on going to and attending an auction or two. And, if you do find that once in a lifetime treasure, please let us know about it! We'd love to celebrate with you!
Mr. and Mrs. skywalker_track