Ok, so you have got the eBay bug. You found this wonderful site, bought a few bits, sold some unwanted items, and now you want to do more. You may have bought a few bits from boot fairs, charity or pound shops, but are running out of other sources, and you are thinking possibly about a local auction. Small auction houses are a really interesting source, and with generally a limited audience and a fast pace, lots do sell for relatively low prices. Unlike the big Christies or Sothebys of the auction world, your local auction house is far more likely to sell everyday house & shop clearance, and as there is seldom such a thing as an everyday house or shop ( everyone has something different ), there really can be some gems in with all the trivia. This is not a be all and end all guide, but I have been to a fair amount of this type of auction now, and thought it might be useful to give a start to anyone who is thinking of doing the same.
Finding a good Auction House.
Actually this bit is quite easy, as long as you go to a genuine, regular, well established and advertised auction venue, not a one day special from a firm selling cheap market type goods from the back of a truck. Most decent local auction houses are listed in local papers or yellow pages, even on line, and they generally have their own premises or have a regular event at the same location. Make sure you are searching for one that specializes in house clearance, as opposed to car parts or whatever, unless car parts are your thing.
Open or Pre Sale Day.
Most Auction houses will have a preview day, usually on the weekend or perhaps the morning before the auction is due to start. They can vary in how they display items. My regular one has three distinct rooms, one for furniture, one for collectables or display items ( anything from coins to jewellery to ceramics ) and one for general box lots or bric-a-brac. If it is your first visit, buy a catalogue and have a good browse around. The catalogues are only usually a pound, and you can use it to make notes on anything that takes your fancy, perhaps jot down what you'd pay for it. If your first time, also make sure if it somewhere you intend bidding, that you register, Most will require some form of ID, such as a driving licence or such, more than just a household bill. Once registered, you will receive a bidder number, usually on a card, and you will be able to wave it in the air along with everyone else on the night.
Now after an hour or so perusing the mountain of items, you may have come away convinced that your future fortune is on the way, a word of caution though, do a bit of home work before anything else. It is easy to check on eBay to see what an average price for something is, and sometimes it can be surprising. Large and fancy doesn't always mean profitable, and just because something says Wedgewood, doesn't mean it's sought after. On the other hand, tatty and no makers name doesn't mean worthless. Some of my best ever finds were in boxes in the bric a brack section, and bought for only a few pounds. Examples can be diverse, one old brass cannon cost £9, fetched £99, two old boxes of model railway buildings cost £8, fetched £400. This doesn't always work out, but there can be some great deals if you are prepared to take a gamble. One auction I went to had loads of boxes of stuff left from a pub promotional event, including hats, wigs and T-shirts. Absolutly no one else in the room wanted them, and I won loads to other bidders amusement, filling the car for £40. Why you ask, well Christmas was coming, and having tried to get a fancy dress costume together myself, I knew how much a party wig could cost. I sold them all for a very very nice profit, and even eventually the party hats as well. If only the other bidders on the night had thought a little more. Mind you, I've still got 80 brand new promotional T-Shirts left, still summers coming.
Well the big event is here, you have done your homework, and you have a list of lots that you are interested in, what more is there. Actually, quite a bit. Remember those prices that you noted in your catalogue, just remember them when the urge to stick your hand in the air is overwhelming. You may win the lot, but unless it's something you want for yourself, will it be worth the money. Auctions in public are different from on eBay, and last minute bidding on small items doesn't really happen, so don't worry to much about placing your bid early. Watch the auctioneer carfully though, and don't feel silly if you have to attract their attention, things can move fast. Also, try not to be to keen about an item, I know others will say it doesn't happen, but some auctioneers have been known to take a few bids off the wall ( seeing imaginary bids to raise the price). There will generally be a set of regular auction types somewhere in the hall, they are easy to spot as they will be bidding far more than anyone else, and the auctioneer will generally look to them more than others. They are experienced but not infallible, so don't think just because they aren't showing an interest, the lot isn't worth anything. Don't be put off by other's giving you advice, though it doesn't hurt to listen. Bidding at a live auction, like everything else, takes a little practise, but winning your lot at the fall of the gavel is thoroughly exciting. Take some boxes and wrapping with you, some auction houses don't provide much, and it will be useful. Be prepared to pay and collect your items on the night, so an empty car and cash ( sometimes credit card payments are charged extra) would be handy.
You've attended your first real auction. You will have found it a terrific adrenaline rush, and you will have boxes of items no doubt to sort out. If you have decided it is for you, try to organise a proper space for it all, believe me it will grow. Some stuff you get will not be eBayable, I know, my garage still reminds me. Think perhaps about selling at a bootfair or just giving to a charity shop, after all, you have already made your money from it. Just a few other things to think about.
1/ Don't be tempted by to many large heavy items. They may be a bargain, but are awkward to pack and cost a fortune to post, so may put off buyers.
2/ Don't be tempted by electrical goods, unless you know what you are doing. Again they may seem a bargain, but may not work or for long, and you don't want to ruin your feedback with disgruntled buyers.
3/ Remember that auction houses sometimes charge a premium on anything bought, and take that into account before you bid.
4/ Always ensure that what buying you can sell on. I know thats the point, but you will get things that aren't eBayable, perhaps in job lots, and you don't want it cluttering up the place.
5/ Enjoy it, it can be a lot of work, and if you don't look forward to auction night perhaps it isn't for you.
Hope these little tips have been of help. I'll update this guide if anything else that might help occurs to me. I would appreciate a plus vote if you have found it of use, at least I'll know it was worth writing. Thankyou for your time and enjoy the experience of a live auction if this has interested you. Personally, I love them.