Let me start by saying that I love Pennsylvania! As far as auctioning goes, it is the Holy Grail. Every weekend there are approximately 100 auctions within 50 miles of me. I spend my week pouring over the listings trying to find the perfect auction that will provide a mix of fantastic hidden treasures, easily movable goods that everyone wants or needs and deals that will make me dance all the way home.
In the past few weeks it has been quite a challenge to narrow down the options because of the plethora of fantastic auctions going on in my area. While pondering the potentials I decided that it may be a good idea to pass on my process of deciding which auctions will be worth my time.
Let’s start with the 3 basic types of auctions as I see it.
1.) Auctions for the collectors. These auctions are easy to spot because of the pictures that are listed with them. The pictures are professional looking. Each item is pictured by itself, looking fabulous. The signatures on the artwork are listed, the background is lovely, the items all look like they just came out of a museum and in the description they actually list the types, names, brands, etc. of the items they have for sale.
As a rule I stay away from these auctions. They are GREAT auctions and if you are a collector looking for a certain piece or if you are buying something specifically for your home. They will generally be in nice buildings with comfy seating and good lighting. The deals are good but just not what I’m looking for.
2.) Auctions that are “weekly” auctions. These auctions are social events. The people that go generally go every week. They are held in an auction house and are generally consignment auctions meaning that several people bring in a load of things to sell. Honestly, these auctions are just fun. You never know who you will meet or what you will see. The goods range from groceries to antiques and everything in between. I have found some awesome deals at auctions like these but it’s rarely a guaranteed score. The best way to tell if this auction is something that will give you a variety of good deal choices is to read the description and look at the pictures.
I really like making these types of auctions into family events. They normally have a decent concession stand set up that has a variety of deliciously disgusting food, decent seating and families can go, grab a snack for the kiddos and just sit and watch the auction. If they have deals, awesome! If not, you still had a fun night out with the fam.
You can identify these auctions in one simple way. If they say “bring the family!” or “Come on out for a great time!” or anything about how wonderful their concession stand is you have one that falls in this category.
As a side note, I found an auction house here that does this type of auction but they only do it once a month. They have some of the best furniture I’ve ever seen. It is a never miss for me. If you find one like that, hang on tight! It takes serious work for an auctioneer to put together an auction as big and as awesome as this one is every single month! It’s worth going to see what you can find!
3.) Estate sales. This is my bread and butter! I love estate sales. Although there are many different types of estate auctions, you can generally tell by the pictures and the descriptions what types of items will be there. Are you looking for antiques? Household goods? Furniture? Check out the pics and see what they have! Generally each person has their own style. You will, over time, be able to look at a few pictures of the estate and be able to tell what type of other items you may be able to find in their home.
Deciding on which auction is the winner may be an instant decision. Sometimes I see ONE item that I must go visit the auction for. Sometimes it takes me days. I go thru the pictures, read the description, map quest the auction to see how long it will take me to get there, and then I factor all of these things in and make my decision.
In summary, what are you looking for? Do you want the family experience or the best deal? Do you want old, hidden antiques or the “good stuff”? Use your gut! Let the pictures tell the story. Normally auctioneers want to bring in the largest crowd possible so they try to put up key pictures that will help bring people in. Do those pictures tell a story that you find interesting? If so, you have a winner!
Questions? Toss them on comments! I would love to hear what you have to say!
Good luck and happy hunting!