Sunday, June 18, 2006

Risky Bid-ness

Remember that cool house we visited while we were garage-saling? Our new friend there gave us information and invited us to an auction on Saturday.

Our first Country Auction! Friday night, we sought out advice from our sage auction-master, Don England. He gave us this advice:
"First: Go early, pick out what you like, and set a price in your mind what you'll pay. Don't go over it."

Second: Auction starts at 10:00. Don't show up at 11:00.

Second: Don't jump around and get all gleeful when your item is up. Keep a poker face about you.

Second: If you win something, make a note of it on the back of your card; keep track of what you've spent, it's easy to get caught up.

Second: The hamburgers are good. Have one."
"Don, why are there so many seconds?"

"Because they're all second to Number 1."


After the farmer's market we tooled on to Jim Clingan's Auction Center in St. Joseph, IL, still not knowing what to expect. It was 91 degrees, and I was relieved to find that the auction was held in a shelter. With fans. And clean restrooms. And concessions.

We arrived 1/2 hour early and took stock. Furniture on one side of the room. Mm-hmmm. "Stuff" on the other. Amazing stuff: beautiful quilts, sets of silver. And odd stuff. This is a "lot." A "Lot" = "A box full of loot."

Yes. That IS spools of thread and used hearing aids. The tricky thing about lots is that you usually want ONE thing in the box, and have to buy the entire lot.

We followed Don's instructions: We picked out what we liked. We quizzed one another: "What's your top dollar, Dana? What's your limit, Marcy?" We were shifty-eyed, careful not to reveal what we'd be bidding on. We were snaky and ready, when the auctioneer took the stand.


Have you ever been stunned, in a dark room, by a strobe light? White flashing lights, making everything appear in slow motion, rendering you totally, temporarily, disoriented from the sensory assault?

That was us yesterday; the three of us fell into a weird trance when the auctioneer began calling. You could have walked up and tapped our foreheads, and we would have fallen right over, like cows.

Bimbo Tipping. [CitySlickers: E-mail me if you don't get that joke.]

Watch this clip from Saturday morning, and you'll understand why we were taken off-guard:

This we had to learn to follow, and learn it fast, before our items came up. We had a couple of false starts. We discovered there's no discussing amongst yourselves what you should do, DURING the bidding of your item. There is no freeze-frame.

We learned from our mistakes, and had our shit together by the time our real heart's desires rolled around. We didn't smile. We were focused and shrewd. We didn't wave our arms to bid, but just lifted our chin to the auctioneer's eyes, to indicate that yes, we'd go another dollar. We were cold-blooded shysters, intent on taking home our books and umbrella stands come hell or high water.

All right, in all honesty, Marcy and I DID both bid against ourselves. Not against each other, mind you. Against OURSELVES. Marcy's books got up to $27.50, and when the $30.00 bid came 'round, she bid on that too. By God, if anyone was going to pay $30, it would be her! I did the same damned thing with my table. The auctioneer recognized us for the rookies we were, and kindly pretended not to notice. We won our books and tables and umbrella stands.

The three of us broke all auction etiquette by cheering and clapping for one another. Dana didn't buy anything, but that didn't keep her from high-fiving us for kicking some auction ass. I swear, if we'd had footballs, we would have spiked them and done the chicken dance.

It was a long, hot day. Mike and Ilaiy showed up to pack the loot:

They were efficient packers, leaving no cranny unpacked:

I came home with one table, and 4 chairs I wasn't sure I wanted (part of the lot) but might make due with. Also a brass umbrella stand filled with long-handled umbrellas, an old-timey coffee grinder (for Ilaiy), 10 copper coffee mugs engraved with someone else's monogram and an old milk jar (part of the lot). All for $50.

We were hot, dirty, and exhausted by the time we arrived home. We unloaded and followed this little sweetie's lead:

Next Auction: July 8.

We can hardly wait.


  1. How fun is that?! Loved the video. I only went to one live auction before... and I bought a box of crap for more than I intended. But I also got a gorgeous frame.

  2. june in florida2:00 PM

    You should get up a little earlier next saturday and do the yard sale route.Read the papers on friday and plan a circle route that will end you up at the farmers market and you can have a healthy breakfast and buy your goodies.That sounds so perfect, now if i could only get up early enough to do that!LOL

  3. Very cool. You'll be utterly unsurprised, no doubt, to learn that I can do a ridiculously accurate imitation of that auctioneer thing. I prolly couldn't do it for real without a good deal of practice but if you didn't know any better I'd have you bidding your socks off. THanks for the props on the paint job too.

  4. Is he actually speaking English? I don't believe it. His tongue must be going ten to the dozen. Do you think he needs to exercise it? This message has ended up in a very different place to where it started. I think I should stop now.

  5. Auctions are very fun. The thing I hate is the resellers have started going to them around here and they drive the price up.

  6. they hold estate sales here rather than auctions, which I think sucks because there's no bidding. The sellers just mark everything in the house (like at a garage sale) and you move through the rooms and pick up what you want. Auctions are so much more fun.

    The last auction I went to was held about two months ago. The Tucson Koi Association held a pond tour and a koi auction. That was pretty cool. I liked checking out the fish but didn't do any bidding because where would I keep a fish that size? We need the bathtub for other purposes.

  7. Anonymous1:24 AM

    What the heck was the auctioneer saying? I'm not real old, but my decision making abilities are slowly deteriorating! A decision I made in 15 seconds at age 25 now takes me... oh let me see... yeah, about 2 days! I wouldn't be able to think fast enough on my feet to bid on anything. By the time I raised a hand or blinked an eye the bid will have already exceeded my cash in hand!

    AZ aka Old Drooling Goober

  8. I LOVED the auction! I seriously can't wait to go back on July 8th.

    I may have to find more and more to go to until I'm flat broke and have to auction off all of MY stuff...

  9. I am always afraid to rub my nose or scratch my head at an auction.

    "SOLD! to the old fat fart in the third row. 5 tons of fresh mixed manure from this weekend's livestock show."

  10. OMG, how can u actually make out what he's saying??!!

    And I thought we Puertoricans talked fast jive.

  11. Wendy: The frame was worth the crap, yes?

    June: EARLIER on a Saturday morning?! Bite your tongue!

    Andy: YouTube it!

    Sveny: NOW look what you have me thinking about! I'll never get any work done.

    Awe: There were collectors at this auction also...but gorgeous oak furniture still went for a song.

    SS: Koi fish in the desert? Mine would be fish jerky within a week.

    AZ: Glad to see you back, and you hit the nail on the head with your comment. You think you're on top of your game until you're with someone that's processing things a split second faster...(my kid, for example)

    Momo: Wear good standin' around shoes!

    Wil: We were worried about accidental bidding too. Dana had a cast on her wrist, and had to keep it elevated; she looked like a perpetual bidder.

    Mary: yes, but what about PuertoRican auctioneers!

  12. OK, I thought I had been keeping up with blogs. I guess not. 11 posts!!! OK, OK what can I say?

    Oh yeah - sounds like a blast at the austion. I usually dont fare well at austions, I remember I bought an impact wrench that was totally crap once.

  13. 11 posts ago? I thought I'd seen you since then! Well, don't be to hard on yourself, Blogger's been a little sickly the last few weeks. We'll blame them.

    That was another Don guideline: check that the electronics work. Hope you didn't pay more than a quarter for that impact wrench!

  14. I meant 11 comments.. duh me

  15. Cold-blooded shysters, lol! Now, you will be hooked and eventually end up in auction-addition-anonymous. :) But, you'll have lots of fun & get some great stuff.

  16. I've never been to an auction. Thanks for painting the picture for me.

  17. all i can say is LMAO @ bimbo tipping! what a fun post!


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