Recently I went on a working day trip to a local auction house to check out a few items I wanted for our vintage decor collection at Southern Vintage Table. My list included a butter churn, blue mason jars, a washboard and a suitcase.
I drive into the parking lot and quickly notice there aren’t many cars. I start thinking, this is a good omen – not too much competition for the items I have come to bid on. Hah – little did I know that those items are on other folks’ lists as well as mine. Phooey…
I sign in, get my number and mosey around the place for the next 10 minutes before the auction begins. So many interesting old things – jewelry, signs, musical instruments, furniture, doo-dads, glassware, wooden boxes, magazines, books and much, much more. Some in pristine condition and others dusty, musty and soiled but definitely vintage.
I sit close to the front and, after settling in my seat, I check out the other folks nearby. A lady down the aisle starts pulling things out of her bag and I notice she’s got snacks, a drink, a book. The guy in front of me has his computer in his lap. Wow, I’m thinking, what a fun way to spend a Monday! I get my pencil and paper ready. This was lesson 1 from my first auction experience – always write down what you buy and how much you spend.
One of the early categories was cowboy stuff – nothing I was interested in so I felt pretty safe to listen and figure out the pace of the bidding. Quickly I realize that folks were holding tight to their money and starting bids were dropping low – some all the way down to $1! Somewhere in there I win a cowboy dinner bell that I didn’t know I had bid on and a signed Gene Autry photograph. After bidding $2 on Gene Autry, the auctioneer says to me, “Ma’am, we are sure glad you came today.” You can translate that anyway you want…
The blue mason jars come up and I sit up straight, thinking and hoping that folks were going to let these go low – well, no such luck. The bid gets high really fast and I have to back out. A bit later the butter churn comes up. Unfortunately, others also want it but I stay in this one and get the highest bid. Ditto with the vintage suitcase – win that, too.
The featured items come up soon after – an array of vintage musical instruments from guitars to trombones. They are lined up down the center aisle for everyone to inspect before they came up for auction. Again, starting bids are low and I just can’t resist bidding $5 for a trumpet … or two … or three…and a guitar or two…and a saxophone…and two empty banjo cases…and…
Somewhere in there, I forget to write down my items and my card is full anyway so I start getting a bit nervous about my total bill. I’m thinking that I should pay up at this point, which may be one of the best decisions I make that day. Lo and behold, it is well over my spending budget!
After loading up my loot, I decide that I better not go back in even through there were three hours left. Heading home I recount the adventure in my head and ponder what lessons I learned this time.
First, remember Lesson 1 – write down everything you win and how much you spend. Lesson 2 – bid on the items you come for and maybe pay more than you think you want to. Lesson 3 – only bid on other items if they are truly exceptional and suit your purpose, not because they are a good deal.
Now I wish I had saved some money for the blue jars and not bought those trumpets but I’m working on a vision for those, too! But, I am glad about getting the banjo cases and the vintage radio – they are perfect additions!
So, oops, I did it again by winning something I didn’t know I was bidding on, but I’m with the auctioneer, I am glad I went that day. Not only did I learn more auction lessons, but I ended up with some wonderful vintage items. These and other cool vintage decor are available at Southern Vintage Table!