Auction challenges

A lady who sold some items at my last auction called last week wanting to bring me more to sell. I asked if these items were similar to what she had brought me previously. When she said they were I told her I was not interested. I could tell she was hurt when she asked why, and I explained that neither she nor I were making any money on those types of items. She had not received her check yet from the last sale so I explained what her items brought. She was a little upset that one piece of pottery had brought so little. I explained that 4-5 years ago it would have brought around $25.00; today it brings $2-3.00. Even much better pottery pieces have declined in recent years. As I talk to other auctioneers in the area they are seeing the same thing in their auctions. We still draw good crowds, but they are not spending money on the things they used to buy.

The owner of one of the largest auction companies in our state recently said in an article that antiques are down about 75% in our state. A flat of costume jewelry today will often bring more than an antique dresser. The owner of an antique store told me last week a man came in wanting to sell him an antique dresser for $100.00. He told the man he wasn’t interested as he had three he couldn’t sell for $20.00.

In the past 2-3 weeks I have refused three people who asked me to sell for them. What they had was yard sale material. Neither of us would have made any money, and they would have probably became upset if I sold their items for what they would have brought. It’s better to be honest upfront than have to explain to them later that people are not interested in buying that kind of stuff at auction.

In business one must stay flexible. Just because I like certain things, and like selling certain things, doesn’t mean my buyers are going to want to buy them. I have to provide them with what they want and are willing to spend their money to purchase. Right now, in this area that would include tools, knives, guns, coins, items of local interest, certain types of pottery, stoneware, gold, silver, costume jewelry, primitives, and a few other things.

Are you offering your customers what they want or are you trying to make them buy the services or products you want to sell? I made that mistake when I owned a heating and air conditioning business. I offered one brand and would not price other brands of equipment even if asked. For years we offered no credit options to our customers. In short, we made it hard for people to do business with us, and it wasn’t long until they didn’t. That was one mistake I don’t intend to make again. In my auction business I am looking for items I know our buyers want, and I’m not going to offer them a lot of stuff I know they don’t want just to have an auction. I just wish I had learned that lesson in my previous business.

I discuss that mistake, and several more I made when I owned that business in an e-book called Mistakes: Avoiding the Wrong Decisions That Will Close Your Small Business. The book is only $4.99, and if it helps you avoid even one of the mistakes I made it will save you much more than that.

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