Monday, August 30, 2010

An Auctioneer who "Get's it!"


Last Saturday was a gorgeous day--so Husbola and I headed west in Old Green to an auction  that was new to us and advertised in the Auction Action Antique News publication.  If you are not familiar with this weekly paper--it is published in Wisconsin and is chock full of auction ads, stories about midwest shows and general info that is of interest to the trade.

So we found an auction that had been moved off site and was being held in the auctioneer's building in the middle of cornfields in northern Illinois.  It promised to be a good one--and estate of hoarders. 

Now--don't think me heartless please when I salivate over an auction of goods belonging to hoarders.  I hold Antique Hoarders in the highest regard.  After all--where are we sellers supposed to get the goods that are fresh to market if there were no haorders?   The unfortuante thing is if the items were not stored properly or were out in the elements or were subject to further deterioration and then they are no good to anyone but he dumpster company.  This auction had good itmes--mostly quite clean.  The inventory was not an insult to the attendees.

This auctioneer and his company "gets it."  By this I mean--with the exception of a few little niggly things--the day was most pleasant and we left feeling good.  To start--when we pulled up--there was a parking lot attendant who directed us where to park. They even had a kid in golf cart to shuttle you to the front door if you needed a lift.  When we walked in--the auctioneer shook Husbola's hand and welcomed us.  The large well lit and ventilated building was very  bright and clean.  Please read that again--bright and CLEAN.  Items were well spaced for easy viewing--and there were plenty of people to answer questions.

There was a large very clean and extensive lunch and snack area.  No grubby fingers taking your money and then loading a hot dog in a bun. (since I am fresh off a health department certified food handler course--I am paying attention.  Don't eat the chopped onions! But that is a story for another day)

The auctioneer was clear in the order of the sale.  If you wanted an item put up for auction out of the random order set by the ring men--you just asked them.  REALLY?  You mean I don't have to wait all day for my widget to be auctioned?  Of course--that does draw the crowd's attention to that widget--which may NOT be a good thing--

The auctioneer just flew.  No dinking dunking through each item--they sped through the auction and kept moving at  a lightening pace--you snooze you loose. For much of the auction they had a camera on each item and the image projected on a large screen. It was a big crowd--and now you could see what was bing auctioned very clearly.

We were out of there by 2pm-and checkout was breeze.  They quickly processed the sale tickets--and we were on our way.

Ok--there were two points that could be improved on--they need TWO porta loo's and one for each gender.  All my women readers know exactly what I mean.  They are going to have chairs at future auctions--but they are relatively knew to this facility--and are still in the set up phase.  Now--what treasures did we uncover?  You will just have to visit our booth at On The Square Antique Mall in Walworth Wisconsin and see for yourself.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I've Had It--I've Had It!!!!!!!


It usually happens every year--as the last gasps of summer are starting to morph into the early start of autumn that I start getting ants in my pants. The strong sales of summer--and I am happy to report-this summer at the shop has been strong in sales--bring out my eagerness to start to liquidate the merchandise that has not sold and I perceive as being stale.

Every antique dealer makes buying mistakes. No matter how long you have been in the business--some things that you thought were so neat and would be snapped up quickly are still in the shop, or are still in your show bins. What do you so with it? The items may have survived a storewide sale, may have survived any number of markdowns--and the dreck is still hanging around.

I take inventory this time of year and make my lists and start to load up Old Green to take a load to an area auction house. Many auction houses have their bread and butter auctions with the dreck that is culled out from antique dealers. We'd love to think that auctions are always sparkling estate sales of fresh antiques from 103 year old women who have lived in their houses since birth. Not so. Alot of auction inventory can be the "treasures" that dealers can't sell and want to unload to other dealers. Think of this dreck as the plankinton of the antique food chain.

Why did I buy that primitive red farm table? I KNOW that red in furniture is a hard sell these days--but I LOVE RED. We paid HOW MUCH for that en plein air painting of the lake scene in autumn with the mountains in the background? People in the midwest do not buy mountain paintings. Those fabulous mid century drapes? SO RETRO but SO ORANGE and that is not the latest color in Martha Stewart Living these days.

Now it is time to wander through the shop, endure heat and mosquitos and dig through the garage and come up with an auction load and turn dreck into cash. The only way to make money in the antiques business is to turn your inventory and turn it quickly. Smart dealers today know not to fall in love with what they buy--add a reasonable--VERY reasonable profit on the items and turn them over. Freshness is what the buyer wants--and of course adjusted 2010 realistic pricing. A dealer friend named Polly calls stale merchandise "Old Friends". She will greet me after visiting one of our booths in late summer and say--"I visited your old friends at Walworth again today." Yikes! Time to purge!

But--darn it--I STILL love that red table.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sometimes It's More Than the Sales

Husbola and I have recently returned from an antique show in Eagle River Wisconsin. We have done the show for a few years--and it is the first week of August way "up nort" in my childhood home state. The show has been around for 50 years--sponsored by the Rotary Club and promoted and run by our friends Joan and Jim Walter.

This show is an example of "you have to look at the whole package" kind of show.

Now--it is NOT a vacation. Nooooo--a vacation is not sitting in a large metal building for two days showing our wares. We really have lucked out over the years--the show is held in a surprisingly clean and well lit, snowmobile racing aerodrome Morton building kind of thing. Eagle River is know for fishing and boating and hunting and in the winters it become the snowmobile capital of the northwoods. That would not be a selling point for Husbola and me. But this show is the first week of August--and it has never been blazing hot.

The drive is long--really long. About 400 miles for us. But once you reach north of Tomahawk--the landscape changes from sand country woods to dense northwoods and we know we are a long way from home. Our travel takes us past the little town in which my grandparents owned a 30 acre Christmas Tree farm, past Wisconsin Rapids that used to smell like paper mills but doesn't anymore and on to Tomahawk WI. Tomahawk is home to the oldest standing Dog N Suds in America and there used to be a large wooden cigar store indian downtown. Travel takes us past Minoqua--home of the Paul Bunyon restaurant, the Waters resort that burned and was rebuilt several years ago--and has never been the same, and the wooden bleachers that you can watch the free water show from--but they are not wooden anymore.

Eagle River itself is pretty straighforward--from the weird guy who sells wild rice to the famous Bucktail Tavern. This tavern/restaurant is off the main drag and is full of locals--and drinks are served on a large varnished pine bar. Lon serves up a mean gin and tonic. If you go two days in a row--Lon will remember you when you walk in and have your drink waiting at your stool. Oh--and the walleye fry on Friday night--fresh hot and extra good with an order of hand dipped fried mushrooms. A once a year treat.

How about the Friendship Cafe? The waitress knows our order "two poached eggs medium on whole wheat toast". But Husbola fooled her on the last day and got french toast instead.

Driving home with Husbola at the wheel--we should really have a sign on the back of our truck that says "we brake for farmstands." By the time we got home--I was balanced between bags of peaches, two huge muskmelons, green beans, zucchini and tomatoes. Our favourite stand is in Hancock--the town that time has forgotten. It is still 1960 in Hancock--there is a farm stand in front of a home--we met the owners last year--and you get your produce and put the money in a can with the honor system. What a town. If an old crooked yeller dog ambled across our path--we would not have been surprised.

Oh yes--and there was a two day antique show and we sold antiques.

Sad Farewell Beautiful Lady of Paris

Adieu Belle Dame.... View from the beautiful blooming park behind the cathedral.