Experiencing an auction for the first time
Some real treasures to be had
WI’ve always wanted to see what it’s like to attend an auction. So as someone who loves to watch Antiques Road Show on T.V., and more recently, Discovery Channel’s Auction Kings, I was excited but leery when attending my first auction earlier this month.
ould the auctioneer speak too fast? Would I inadvertently scratch my head, or anywhere on my body for that matter, and end up owning an item I didn’t want? Or worse, would a sense of competitiveness engulf me and cause me to throw caution - and my budget - to the wind in an effort to outbid others in the room?
For those reasons and a simple fear of the unknown, I had stayed away from the many auction opportunities we are fortunate to have access to in our region… until recently. Achance trip with mydaughter into Hudson Auctions’ facility had her ready to lay down her hard earned cash on the spot. She had spied a much-coveted pair of headphones she wanted to give her boyfriend as a graduation gift. The listening devices, Beats by Dr. Dre, sell in stores for much, much more than she was able to afford. But when Hudson Auctions’ owner Gary Peterson told her they would probably sell at his upcoming auction for a fraction of the cost, she was in. OrI was in, it seemed. Work obligations on her part on the day of the Sunday, July 8 auction found me in her stead at the auction house, ready to spend her hard earned cash.
For those, like me, who’ve never attended an auction, it goes a little like this: Arrive early if you want a chance to see all of the items going on the auction block that day. The day I went there were hundreds of items scattered around the large, open room, each bearing a little yellow slip of paper with an assigned number.
Anyone wanting to bid on an item must first register at the front desk by completing a form that includes the buyer’s name, ad-
Going, going, gone
dress and phone number. Clients are then given an auction form. After that they can wander the room marking the number assigned to the items on which they might want to bid.
What struck me most that day was the amount and assortment of items scheduled to hit the auction block. There was a vintage, green MGB convertible sports car (it didn’t sell because no one would meet the reserve, or the minimum price that had been set in advance), a designer wedding dress (size 10), diamond and sapphire rings, uncut gemstones, a wide variety of vintage and some modern jewelry, a large selection of framed paintings, hand sewn quilts, dishes, antiques, furniture, patio sets, clothing, high-end skincare products, and so much more. It truly boggled the mind. There were brand new items like android cellular telephones, touch tablets, and the headphones my daughter coveted. The auctioneer explained that many of the items had been sent in a lot to the auction house by a delivery company. The arrangement is common, he said, when the company is unable to deliver its shipments, or if the products are never claimed, for whatever reason.
Other items are placed up for auction on consignment.
Whatever the reasons, my experience included seeing antique, crystal desk sets auctioned off in one lot, and android phones in the next.
When the action did start, the auctioneer, Peterson in this case, started off explaining the process and acknowledging newcomers like myself in the room. He said he would take his time, which he did. I was happy to note that I could understand most of what he said. Though there were hundreds of items up for bids, Peterson and his staff kept things moving along at a good clip. He would briefly describe the item while a staff member held it up at the front of the room for people to see. The bidding did go quickly and it was never clear to me how Peterson went up in five or ten dollar increments. I was seated at the front of the room so had a hard time seeing if experienced buyers kept upping the price with just a nod of the head. I still have no idea if there is a signal one can give, for example, to indicate that you only want to increase the bid by $5 instead of ten.
After sitting through 91 other items, the first of two pair of the coveted headphones came onto the auction block. Before I knew it, the bidding had gone from $50 to $100 and higher. I hadn’t even lifted a finger, nodded my head, or scratched anything for that matter, to place my bid. And just like that the item was sold to a family at the back of the room for their rather pleased looking elementary school-aged son.
But there was hope in the form of a second set of headphones.
And this time no one else wanted them. So I jumped right in with a winning bid that, happily enough, was $20 less that the price paid by family the first time around.
Heart pounding and fingers shaking slightly from the adrenaline rush of the whole experience, I went to pay for the purchase.
First timers should also know there is a 12percent premium added to the final price of every item purchased, as well as all applicable taxes. The end figure is definitely higher than the bid price when the gavel hammers down and should be factored into a maximum budget allotment. And all items are sold “as is,” so it’s a good idea to fully inspect anything you plan to buy.
In the end, I got the headphones and my daughter’s boyfriend got a pretty cool graduation gift that also comes with a story. I also got a taste of auction fever and can understand why it’s so much fun to spend a day at an auction house. There are treasures to be found and for some very good prices. The good news is there are plenty of auction opportunities the region. And even if you don’t end up buying anything, it’s certainly an adventure just to experience a live auction for the first time.
Hudson Auctions is located at 3190, boulevard Harwood, Vaudreuil-Dorion. Its next auction will be held Sunday, July 22 beginning at 1:00 p.m. Doors open a few hours earlier for those who want to stop in to look around.
For a list of items that will be on the auction block, go to: www.hudsonauctions.com or call 450 458-5766.