Shawn, I have seen a post under which you had commented regarding auctions vs garage sale. I was wondering if you could pass along some information regarding the auction process. My mother recently purchased a home and the contents, and of course, there are some contents she does not wish to keep. We have been discussing a garage sale, but would like to hear more about your auction process. Some of the obvious questions I have is the percentage you charge, is there an up-front out of pocket fee, and do you pick up the items we wish to auction, or do we drop them at your site? These are the questions I have. If you could give me some answers to those, and any other information you feel might be helpful.
The answer to some may seem squirrelish, but in truth, every answer is a function of time/money.
An Auction is a business. Some Auctioneers, myself included, do benefit auctions, not only to give back, but to get name recognition with something good.
Let's talk about a garage sale. Some folks are quite successful at garage selling..... others.... not so much. When you have a garage sale, you have to set everything up, stage it, label it, price it, advertise it, manage it, sit there while it is open and negotiate with customers. How many of you negotiate the price up? If you price a tent at $5.00, how many times does a customer come up to you and ask you if you would take $7.50 for it? Normally it is the other way around isn't it? Most of the time, someone will ask, will ya take $2.00? How many hours does it take to run a garage sale? Set up.... 3-4 hours, Sale time 12 hours (9-5 Sat., 12-4 Sunday) 2 hours tear down and put the stuff you didn't want away.... How much did you make?
Let's compare that to an Auction. Remember when I asked you if you had ever negotiated the price up? An Auctioneer is the only professional that I can think of that negotiates up. Typically, an Auctioneer asks for an opening bid close to what they feel the item may be worth, but not always. People may look at the Auctioneer like he done fell and hit his head.... so, the auctioneer searches for an opening bid... which is a price that a willing buyer is willing to give for an item at that exact moment in time in that exact condition. When you have a group of people together, there is a great deal of psychology going on. EVERYONE would like to get a great deal, or some even, something for nothing or next to it. It is part of the human condition. Then, a lot of people have the "I am not going to let you have it for that" syndrome. Many times people who have no genuine interest in an item, or at least thought they didn't, will bid on an item just in an attempt to make the final bidder pay a "fair market value" for the item. The end result, the comparison between a garage or tag sale versus an Auction, is the Auction will typically net you a greater amount in a shorter amount of time if you but do the math.
What is the percentage?- You cost money so a garage sale makes me more money! Not necessarily! The percentage is derived by A: The quality and perceived value, as well as the quantity of items to be sold. B. The location at which the items will be sold C: The amount of labor needed to get the items sold D: the cost of advertising to get a good crowd of bidders.
What can I do to lower the costs of my auction? The least expensive way to have an auction is to host it where the items are. If you can set it up, even better. The less labor you have, the less expensive it is. When I quote a percentage at an Auction House per se, you have costs associated with it such as mortgage, utilities, insurance, chairs, labor, clerk, cashier, advertising.... At your location, you take care of all that so your percentage is less, depending upon the situation.
To give you an idea, we have tailgate auctions in town where you, the seller, bring your items in a vehicle, we hold the items up at your vehicle and auction them off.
The nice thing about an auction versus most other kinds of sales is that once an Auction is completed, there is very little cleanup as ALL the items are sold.
I hope this answers most of your questions.
Shawn J. Dostie