THE PROCESS, STEP-BY-STEP

Flea Market Décor - - Great Finds -

Step 1- FIND AN AUC­TION.

“You have to be proac­tive to fol­low the auc­tion busi­ness,” Neil ad­vises. Auc­tions have main­tained a low pro­file, and most peo­ple aren’t aware of when or where they’re be­ing held. He fur­ther ex­plains, “Some auc­tions have a fixed lo­ca­tion and an es­tab­lished day for the sale, but sev­eral on­site auc­tions nec­es­sar­ily show up in a dif­fer­ent place ev­ery day.”

Neil’s fa­vorite re­source is auc­tionzip.com, where you can search op­tions based on dis­tance, select cat­e­gories for items of in­ter­est, view a cal­en­dar of events and even see images of avail­able mer­chan­dise. Your lo­cal pa­per may also print list­ings of up­com­ing sales, and it’s cer­tainly worth the ef­fort to search on­line for lo­cal auc­tion com­pa­nies.

Step 2 PRE­VIEW THE MER­CHAN­DISE.

If you’ve seen some­thing en­tic­ing in the list­ing photos, be sure to fol­low through in per­son dur­ing the pre­view hours. Usu­ally held the day prior and in the few hours be­fore the bid­ding takes place, the pre­view is your op­por­tu­nity to ex­am­ine the “lots.” These items, or groups of items sold as a unit, are on dis­play and typ­i­cally num­bered for ref­er­ence. Look for de­fects, check for la­bels or maker’s marks and de­cide if some­thing is worth your bid.

A thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion is im­por­tant, as Neil notes that, “Auc­tions are ‘as is/where is’ trans­ac­tions. A bid is a con­tract to pur­chase. When you bid $50 for that chair, you have promised to pay for it. You can’t change your mind be­cause the color isn’t quite right or be­cause you can’t get it in your car. You bid, you owe. Just be sure of your­self be­fore you bid.”

STEP 3 REG­IS­TER FOR A BID NUM­BER OR JUST WATCH.

“This will re­quire a pic­ture ID at most auc­tions,” says Neil. Your bid num­ber is your iden­tity for the rest of the event, so keep the card nearby at all times. If you’re cu­ri­ous but you’ve got cold feet, con­sider at­tend­ing as an ob­server. Neil says, “There are some very knowl­edge­able peo­ple there, and they are glad to an­swer your ques­tions.”

Step 4- BID.

You’ve got your bid card and your seat, and you’re ready to go! “The auc­tion will open with terms and con­di­tions of the auc­tion. Lis­ten care­fully,” Neil rec­om­mends. “Most auc­tion­eers have their stan­dard terms printed on their bid cards, but each auc­tion has unique el­e­ments that will be ex­plained at the be­gin­ning, in­clud­ing the planned sched­ule of the sale.”

Our ex­pert also rec­om­mends stay­ing alert dur­ing the rest of the process as well, even if your lots are not up yet. “Lis­ten to an auc­tion­eer for a while un­til you un­der­stand his chant,” he says. “Some use a lot of filler words, and it can be dif­fi­cult to pick out ex­actly what the bid is and what he wants. If this is an item you want, and it is still within your bud­get, put your bid num­ber up, or raise your hand. Make eye con­tact with the auc­tion­eer to be sure he has your bid.”

Don’t worry, though, your in­ad­ver­tent move­ments are not likely to make you the owner of some­thing ugly you wouldn’t dream of tak­ing home. Neil jokes, “De­spite what you’ve seen in the movies, you can scratch your ear or rub your nose with­out buy­ing the camel with the clock in its stom­ach.”

Step 5- YOU WON!

Con­grat­u­la­tions! “If you are the win­ning bid­der, they will ask you for your bid num­ber again, to be sure the item is cor­rectly listed with the clerk,” Neil ex­plains. Be sure to con­sider the buyer’s pre­mium when ac­count­ing for a lot’s to­tal cost. This is typ­i­cally around 10 to 20 per­cent of the ham­mer price, but there may be ex­cep­tions.

“At the end of the auc­tion,” Neil continues, “or when you are ready to leave, set­tle up with the cashier. You will be given a re­ceipt. Some auc­tions will re­quire that you show your re­ceipt to re­move items from the build­ing.” You’ll also likely have a time limit to re­move your pur­chases, so con­firm if that limit is ASAP or there’s a multi-day grace pe­riod for stor­age.

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