Today, at the last minute after hitting only 3 garage sales, I found there was a local auction happening in the next town over. Auctions are good for some things, but sometimes people get “Auction Fever” and drive prices up on items that they could easily buy at an antique store or even Walmart.
As a dealer in an Antique Mall, I need to buy low so I can resale items at a reasonable cost. If I can’t at least double my money then it’s not worth it. At least to me. Some dealers buy at such exorbitant costs that I don’t know how they expect to make any money or they charge way too much because they paid too much and it sits in their booth wasting space.
Here are some tips for buying at an auction
🚩 Once you have decided to go to an auction, you need to find out the weather. It’s better to be over prepared than under. Bring an umbrella, dress in layers so if it’s hot you can remove a coat or vice versa. Good shoes are imperative as you will be standing through most of it, which could be hours. I would recommend clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. You might want to bring gloves too to dig thru stuff.
🚩 If you have a truck, all the better, you may want to bring some padding so items don’t jostle and break or slide away. If you don’t have a truck, I would suggest taking everything out of your car including the back seats if you can.
🚩 Bring some boxes or storage totes and newspaper or wrapping stuff. Also bring a working pen for notes.
🚩 Bring a tape measure if you are looking for certain things to fit somewhere. Also to fit in your vehicle. I have had to leave stuff because I bought too much big stuff and didn’t have room in the car.
🚩 Bring some snacks, some auctions have food but it will consist of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, candy bars, desserts, sodas ,water and coffee. Although the prices aren’t generally too pricey all of it generally not too great for stamina.
I recommend energy bars, granola even fruit.
🚩 Here’s a icky fact. Most often, bathroom facilities are those incredibly gross Port A Potty. UGH! I ALWAYS CARRY HAND SANITIZERS for cleaning the toilet seats and my hands.
🚩 Patience is required. Most of the time, you will be waiting for that cute little item and the auctioneer will seem to sell everything else first. So you wait and wait and wait some more.
🚩 Set a monetary limit for yourself even if you are buying it for yourself. Bidding causes excitement and you can get caught up in the bidding. Know when to walk away. Figure out what you feel comfortable spending and if it’s $10.00 on that item, then stop there. However; a little tip is that people generally stop at even numbers. So if you really want something, you can probably go to next bid up and win it.
🚩 Arrive a bit early to check out all the items , look under boxes, and look in boxes especially closed boxes or tins. Have found cool stuff in some. Arriving early allows you to see items before everyone else has pawed through it and moved everything to a big jumble . Some people will even try to hide valuable stuff inside other stuff. Sad but true.
🚩 If you don’t know the value of something you see, like those beautiful dishes by Limoges, your smartphone is awesome. By arriving early , you have time to look these things up. Try Ebay and see what things actually sold for not just what they are listed for.
🚩 Once you arrive, go get your bidders number usually by cashier . You will need a ID like Drivers License to bid on anything. Once you get your buyers number on your bidders card there is room for your notes. Here you can write down the things you like and your top price. Once you buy something, mark it next to it what you actually paid. Hopefully less than your maximum.
🚩 Auction people are usually very nice and friendly but competitive. Remember they are probably trying to do the same exact thing you are doing. Having said that, please keep your interest in an item to yourself. I never share what I like because this is in essence a competition. Mums the word.
🚩 If I buy a box of something, there are lots of times that I really don’t want all the items in the box, so I leave the junk I don’t want and tell others they are welcome to it. Or you can donate it or trash it . I just generally don’t want the hassle.
🚩 On the other side if someone out bids you on a box and there is something you want. You can go up to that person if you think they bought it for something else and say “hey I am interested in that (insert item) would you take (insert $ amount) “which is a small portion of what they paid for whole box. For instance, my husband was interested in a box that had a sieve in it but the price of the box was more than he wanted to pay. I went up to the successful bidder and asked if he wasn’t interested in that sieve I would buy it off him for $1.00. He was happy to sell it and my husband was thrilled. Win Win.
🚩 If you want something but don’t have the means to take it with you right then often times you can make arrangements with the actual sellers or auctioneer to pick up later, usually later that day or following. Ask ahead though. You can’t assume.
🚩 Auctions are fun, but they are tiring and since there are no set prices you can’t be sure what you will have to pay to get that cute little table. Sometimes, I figure I may have to pay a little more for something I really love and then make it up by buying something a lot less than I thought. It kind of comes out in the wash.
🚩 Paying your bill. Most times, they won’t let you load your items until you have paid. Different Auctioneers offer different forms of payment. Cash is best but you need to know how much you plan to spend. You will be given a receipt and these little tags which show what you bought and how much you paid. I always tear up my bidder number and give it to cashier so no one uses my number after I leave. Just a precaution on my part, but why take the chance.
I hope these little tips and tricks help you decide to at least try an auction. They are really fun for the most part and you can always leave.
Happy Bidding !