We have been running an auction company as a family since I was about 8 years old. We rented a building in the small town of Mayville when I was eleven and ran live night auctions every other Saturday night for several years.
When I was fourteen, we expanded to a second location in Sandusky, MI and then switched to running one auction at each location per month.
We did that for about a year, then we switched to running online auctions out of our Sandusky location only. Three years ago, we moved to our current building, which is just down the street from our old one. Including the fenced in yard, we have about 15,000 square feet of room here.
While we miss many things about the live auctions (and they are actually less work to put together), financially the online's are the better way to go.
Getting the items broke down and ready for sale is a very time consuming and labor intensive process. On average, each sale has about 2,000 items, and every item is handled 4-5 times per sale. 10-13,000 photos are taken each month.
We do one sale per month, though sometimes it can stretch out 5-6 weeks between auctions.
For our merchandise, we have usually four take in days where the public can bring in their items for us to sell. We also buy estates…full households where we go in with 30 foot trailers and several guys and pack up and haul out everything in the house. We can usually do a full house, including a garage and outbuildings in 1-2 days.
The items are then brought back to the warehouse, where the boxes are all sorted, each item is given a 3x5 card with a description and a consignor number, then they are put on shelves or lined up in rows.
Then we go through and assign each item a lot number and catalog all the 3x5 cards in notebooks. The books then go to a typist, who types all the information into the computer program while me, Seth and Dad photo all 2,000 lots in 5-6 days.
All of the furniture is moved so a white board can be placed behind it to eliminate distraction in the photos and all the items on the shelves are moved to a photo booth.
All the photos then must be edited and uploaded to the program (Mom's job) and the entire auction is gone through at least once before it is live to the public.
The auction runs for five days, from a Saturday to a Thursday evening. On Wednesday and Thursday of that week, we are open for a public preview, where anyone can come in and view the items in person. The auction takes about three hours to end on Thursday night, it starts ending around seven and usually is completely closed around ten, with furious bidding going on through that time.
Friday and Saturday are our pick up days, where all winning bidders are expected to pick up and pay for the items they purchased. We usually have 4-500 people come through the auction facilities on that day.
And then, the process starts all over! The first photo is the outside of our current building (these photos are not recent) and the rest show a little of what product you can expect to see online. When we are asked what kinds of items we sell, our answer is anything from toasters to excavators!
Today I am working at the auction for a public preview. The auction that running right now will end tomorrow night so we have a busy weekend ahead of us!
Here is the link to the auction site if you want to check it out! AuctioneersNow.com