5 Reasons You Should Start Coming To My Auctions

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Nearly every auction I do I think to myself: “If [fill in the blank] would just come to auctions we could change their lives.”

  • College students
  • Low income folks
  • Elderly
  • People thinking about starting a business
  • People that are just bored on a Saturday afternoon

Auctions are like this seemingly private club. There are “auction” people and then there is everyone else.

I think people are nervous about going to an auction. They don’t know what to expect. They don’t know if they are going to be confused. They don’t know how much money they are going to spend.

If nothing else, under this about any of the Rubber City Auctions:

  • It’s free to come.
  • You are NEVER required to buy anything.
  • You can just come and eat a hot dog.
  • You can just come and watch.
  • If you want a bidder number we ask for a photo ID in case you  want to write a check. (We ask everybody for this just to keep things universal.)
    • If you don’t have a photo ID come anyway and let us know. We probably can work with you.
  • We almost always have free hot dogs. It’s kind of our signature thing. You can just come for the hot dogs.
  • You can come any time during our auctions. I like to keep auctions under 2 hours. I think people get tired (me included) after that.
  • Our doors usually open two hours before an auction so you can come check stuff out. 
  • If you want to bid I suggest getting to the auction maybe 15 minutes early so you can get your bidder number and you don’t miss out on any items. I often auction some of the best stuff first.

So that’s how the process works. But here are 5 reasons why I REALLY think you should come to our auctions.

Reason #1 you should come to a Rubber City Auction

DEALS. DEALS. DEALS!

You will not believe the deals you will get on things. Standard household item auctions are like buying wholesale. In fact, that’s how a lot of our regulars use us. They buy stuff from our auction and then go resell it. 

But if you need a table, or a cool chair or some stuff for your house you have got to come check out what we have. You simply won’t believe the prices on things.

Reason #2 you should come to a Rubber City Auction

Rubber City Auctions are fun. I don’t waste people’s time. But I also make a big effort to have fun and keep you entertained. I’ve been told I should take my auction to America’s Got Talent. I’m probably not going to do that. So you’ll just have to come check us out at one of our auctions.

Reason #3 you should come to a Rubber City Auction

It’s like a little community. It’s like that bar Cheers where “Everybody Knows Your Name.” You see new friends you’ve made and you get to catch up with them.

Reason #4 you should come to a Rubber City Auction

We love newcomers. Some auction houses feel a little elitist. If you are new to the whole game it can be disorienting. 

If you are new to auctions just mention that to me or one of the people working with us. We’ll give you a little primer and help you along the way.

Reason #5 you should come to a Rubber City Auction

We often auction items that were donated to our sister charity, The Homeless Charity. We also hire homeless to work the auction. So when you come to a Rubber City Auction you are making a big impact in helping the homeless in your community.

So there you have it. You really should come and check us out. We’d love for you to come to one of our auctions. 

I think you’ll love it and probably will get hooked on the auction bug.

Kiko Robbed Me!

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I’ve heard this at least 3 times in my short auction career.

A person told me recently that Kiko had an auction for them. “No one came to the auction and machines that where worth $200 sold for $20.”

Another person told me that Kiko sold his dad’s house for $40,000 but it was worth $70,000.

Let me be clear: At least in these cases: Kiko robbed nothing from anyone.

The biggest learning curve I have been dealing with is helping sellers deal with expectations.

Expectations are the biggest issue in selling at auction.

What you paid for something new has no relation to what it is worth on the open market.

A Nissan Leaf loses 48% of it’s retail value in the first year.

And some things become completely worthless. You can’t get someone to pick it up and throw it away on the way out the door. Dolls come to mind.

If a potential seller is concerned about what something will bring (excluding real estate and vehicles) this is what I tell them:

Try selling it yourself. List it on eBay or Craigslist or Facebook. Or have a garage sale.

They then often tell me they either tried that or don’t want to spend the effort doing that.

So, then we’re stuck. They feel something is worth a particular price (that is likely unrealistic) but they also want the item gone.

I’ve sold stuff that people feel went for too little money. I HATE that experience. I’m too thin skinned and too much of a people pleaser.

I try really hard to sniff out where a person is with their stuff. I don’t have the mental stamina to get yelled at because someone felt things went for less than they should.

It’s possible that Kiko has grown immune to that issue.

The fact of the matter is: There are times when a person, or family, needs to let things go. Their personal items are causing actual damage to their family.

I once did an auction where a family was moving and one of the people in the family was a serious collector that hated to see their things go.

I did that auction because the family really needed it to happen.

I then once got totally reamed from a person that was incredibly unhappy about the price I got for items that had already been through a garage sale and run through Craigslist. I regret taking that auction.

Auctions are a tool used for a specific situation. We are more of a wholesale service provider than a retail provider.

The way you get the absolute maximum amount of money out of an item is to advertise it and sit on it. That’s the model of retail selling.

Auctions are all about moving items incredibly quickly.

I’m sitting in the lobby of an office building that needed to liquidate all their old furniture and items because they were moving to a new location.

We sold every single item in 3 hours on Saturday. And now I’m just sitting here watching our buyers break everything down and carry everything out.

All the owner did was hand me the keys and building security codes the week before the auction.

The president stopped by today. She walked through briefly. She said she heard the parking lot was packed the day of the auction and everything was sold.

Her exact words were, “This is a huge load off my mind.”

She didn’t have to lift a finger. She didn’t have to call around. She didn’t have to try to organize countless meetings for people to come by and peruse her items. She has much more important things to do. She’s not in the business of selling old office furniture.

But do you know who is in the business of selling old office furniture? My buyers!

They come to me to get good deals on a lot of merchandise that they can sell for a profit.

This is the ecosystem of selling pretty much anything.

I, as an auctioneer, start the life process of your stuff all over again.

When you’re done with it a person like me comes in and sends it back out into the world to begin a new journey.

So, in this case, no. Kiko didn’t rob you. You got fair market value for your items at that point in time, at that point in space in an auction setting.

If you are really concerned about getting a particular amount of money for an item set a reserve price on it so it doesn’t go for less than that. That’s a good idea for large ticket items.

But if you are selling traditional household items or office items ask yourself what you truly want. Do you want to sit on the stuff and market it and market it? Or do you want to move on with your life?

Bonus Thought #1:
The other problem you are going to deal with is that you don’t have an audience. Even if you are willing to sit on items to get the maximum amount of money, you don’t have a group of buyers on hand. Craigslist, Facebook and eBay are so saturated it is becoming increasingly difficult for a person to just put something online and expect it to sell. You may never sell your stuff.

Bonus Thought #2:
The other thing about an auction is that it’s an event. People come to auctions because they are fun and exciting and they can pick up interesting items for a good deal. A retail store is not an event. That’s why they have all those fake sales. Presidents Day. Back To School. Black Friday. That’s all they have. An auction is a once in a lifetime event. The things that you find at an auction are unique and special. And once they’re gone they’re gone. So I can get 50-100 people to show up on a Saturday afternoon. How long will it take you to get your items in front of 50 to 100 people that will fight over your stuff?

Help! My parents were hoarders.

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I’ve made a life being surrounded by people with various forms of addictions and disorders in our Homeless Charity

  • Alcoholism
  • Drug addiction
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • General anxiety

The homeless are a group of people with a high level of mental health issues.

You might be surprised to learn that a couple homeless people I work with are also hoarders. 

There’s one man that reminds me of a raccoon. He’ll pick something up and just store it in his area. If I am missing something I can often go to his area and find what I’m looking for. 

But where I see hoarding the most is in my auction work.

My experience has been that hoarding effects both men and women, both rich and poor, both young and old.

Hoarding doesn’t discriminate.

Most people are embarrassed by their own hoarding or their family member’s hoarding.

I wish people could let go of the embarrassment they feel with their mental health issues. These are afflictions that have been laid on you through your life journey.

Yesterday was my 14 year anniversary of quitting drinking, smoking and coffee. I was a case of beer a day kind of guy (and a couple packs of cigarettes and couple pots of coffee). Am I the one who chose to pick up all those beers and cigarettes and pots of coffee? Yes. But it became bigger than me. It was more about dealing with anxiety and depression than it was the substances.

The same is true with hoarding. You or your loved one bought those things. Yes. But it becomes something that you lose control of. 

A first step is not adding additional anxiety on top of the terrible feelings you already have. It’s ok. You are ok. You are just experiencing a mental health issue that is manifesting itself into collecting a lot of things.

The other thing to know about hoarding is: as an auctioneer, it doesn’t scare me in the least.

I once sold all of a person’s hoardings in a day and told him to start over and I’d be back in a couple years. 

I see a lot of adult children overwhelmed by their parents’ estates. I feel bad that they feel so bad because it truly is no big deal. I just see a 7 hour job. But I feel for them because they see a lifetime of collecting.

I was told that some local auctioneers only want to sell a few cherry-picked items. I’ll gladly sell everything. Shoot, I can even put the house up for auction that day and see if we get what you want out of it. I’ll sell everything. I’m a licensed Realtor and gun dealer. Truly, there isn’t much I can’t sell.

While the selling of items is of little concern to me, the emotional aspect of it all becomes more complicated.

If I’m working directly with the hoarder I look for some signs:

Someone who hoards may exhibit the following:

  • Inability to throw away possessions
  • Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
  • Great difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions
  • Indecision about what to keep or where to put things
  • Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
  • Suspicion of other people touching items
  • Obsessive thoughts and actions: fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future; checking the trash for accidentally discarded objects
  • Functional impairments, including loss of living space, social isolation, family or marital discord, financial difficulties, health hazards

That list is from here: Hoarding: The Basics | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA

These symptoms can sometimes make selling items impossible.

I recently had a person tell me their father said he was just going to leave the mess to his kids to clean up. Believe it or not, that’s not a terrible way to go.

While the adult child feels overwhelmed by it all an auctioneer, such as myself, can make quick work of that problem. You should know that almost everything will sell:

  • Clothes
  • Kitchen utensils 
  • Tupperware 
  • All kinds of dishes
  • Old shelving
  • Boxes of nails

You name it. The hardest thing I have to sell is Christmas. I have to do some serious begging. But more often than not I can also sell that stuff too.

Shoes seem hard to move too. 

But other than that, I can usually find a home for all your things. 

And that’s an important thing for a hoarder to know: These items are going to be loved by someone new. It’s going to be put to good use and people are going to find it valuable. 

An auction is an act of recycling. We are giving your items a new life. They are going to start their journey again.

They aren’t going to be thrown away in a land fill. 

People hoard for several reasons.  An item:

  • will be useful or valuable in the future.
  • has sentimental value.
  • is unique and irreplaceable.
  • is a huge bargain.

Getting rid of items for a hoarder is incredibly difficult. Usually the only reason a hoarder reluctantly agrees to sell their items is because they have no other choice.

  • They have to move.
  • Their spouse is threatening to leave them.
  • They are living in unsafe conditions.
  • They can’t afford storage fees any more.

Selling a hoarder’s items is a very emotional experience. I always try to get the person to not be around for the actual auction. 

You should be aware that the pain of keeping the items has to be greater than the pain of selling the items. That means keeping the items has to be pretty darn painful.

If your parent is safe and can exist with their things, you might do all of yourselves a favor to just let them keep their things.

That said… if you can get a hoarder to agree to an auction, my experience has been that they recover quite quickly from the trauma of selling the things. I’m no mental health professional so don’t treat this like any kind of medical advice. It’s possible that for some people it might be a devastating experience that lingers with them for a long time. But so far that has not been my experience.

You might actually consider getting a mental health professional involved in the process. I’d be happy to meet with them, if that would help.

Hopefully, this will help you. So just to recap:

  1. If your parents have passed on and left you with a lot of stuff to deal with, fear not! We can quickly sell all those items for you.
  2. If your parent is still alive, pick your battles carefully. Do you really need to sell the items? Or can you let them live with them? If you can let them live with them I’d encourage you to think about just letting this fight go. Let them know you love them, keep them safe and just enjoy spending time with them even though their hoarding bothers you. Dealing with these things won’t be as big a deal as you think it will when they are gone.
  3. If you are somewhere in the middle, see if your parent would be willing to meet with a mental health professional. Maybe together you can all come up with a plan that makes sense for everyone involved.

 

 

Aren’t I Going To Lose Money Putting My Things In An Auction?

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I see it all the time.

A person walks me through their house carefully showing me this item or that item. 

“This kitchen table is over 100 years old.”

Many times people just aren’t ready to let go. 

Selling your things is a personal journey. 

If I feel like a person isn’t ready to let go I often suggest they put their items on Craigslist or eBay or even have a garage sale.  Take your things to the Hartville Flea Market.

Test the market. See what you can get for an item.

I often hear exciting stories from the resellers who come to my auctions. 

“Remember that table I bought from you for $30? Well, I took it to Hartville and sold it for $200!”

I love stories like that. I love helping my buyers find good deals that they can turn around and make a profit. 

I’m basically a wholesaler. I give your things a new life. They get a fresh start with me and move on to be loved by a new family. 

The “big fish” stories I hear from my buyers are great. But I also think they are the exception. 

I’ve sold at Hartville. 

I got my space on a Friday at 5:30am. If you don’t get there early (and you don’t have a reserved spot) you will be relegated far out in the back. I setup and waited for the market to open at 9:00am. 

I also forgot to bring sunscreen. It was 86 degrees that day. The sun was blazing. I had no cover. I just sat there all day. I’m pretty sure I got sun poisoning. I felt sick and tired the entire next day.

I sold until 3:00pm. I made $50. And about $10 of that went to Hartville for my space.

I’m quite sure my buyers who sell at Hartville could do better. But honestly, I watched all the other “regulars” around me. I didn’t see any great sales going on with them either.

Craigslist can be dangerous. And you always have to arrange a time to meet that is convenient for your buyer and you. But mostly, if you don’t price your items right, you will just find that things don’t sell very well on Craigslist.

Personally, my favorite way of selling (outside of auctions) is garage sales. You get to sit in the shade of your garage. You have your bathroom and kitchen right there. Hopefully you can convince a friend to set there with you Thursday through Saturday. And you can just pass the time. It’s pretty relaxing.

But I get many people that have done all of the above. They’ve had a garage sale. They’ve put their items on Craigslist. They’ve gone to Hartville Flea Market. 

And they still come to me with a house full of stuff they need to get rid of.

The biggest problem I see in garage sales and Craigslist is over pricing. 

What you paid for something at a store has absolutely no relation to what it is worth used.

Look at cars. Some cars hold their value. Some cars don’t. It’s just what the market will bare.

And honestly, most of the things you have aren’t worth that much.

I’ve had people tell me that they hired an appraiser who said their favorite doll is worth $300. They should have sold it to the appraiser. Dolls are worth next to nothing. I’m sorry. But that’s just the case.

Ever since the great recession the bottom completely fell out of the entire doll market. 

I can definitely sell dolls. But not for anywhere near you think they will sell for.

If I see someone who still is in love with their items I tell them to either sell themselves or take them out of the auction. I hate disappointing people.

But almost every time they will tell me they want the things out of their house.

That’s not true. They told me first, very emotionally, how valuable their things are. If I don’t get them what they think something is worth then they are going to be really upset.

These are the kinds of auctions I walk away from.

We are usually at an impasse at this point. They want two diametrically apposed things: A high price for their item and have it gone.

When a person consigns items with me at our auction house I give them several options:

They can set a minimum of $5 or $10 for an item for no extra cost. But if they want to have a reserve price for something higher then it costs them $5 to list it. 

Almost every time the reserve isn’t met. That’s simply because they are pricing items emotionally and not with what the market will bare. 

If they were experts at resale they probably wouldn’t be talking to me. They’d sell the items themselves. The experts buy from me. They are going to take the time to put the items in their store and sit on it until it sells for the profit they feel they can get for the item.

You (and I) don’t have a store. We aren’t retailers. That’s an entire business that takes time to build up. 

So:

  • You don’t have a store
  • You don’t have the expertise or time or interest to sell properly on Craigslist
  • You don’t want to ship items all over the country using eBay
  • You tried a garage sale or you don’t want to do a garage sale

You just want your things gone. You have made your peace with them. They are ready to move on to another life.

That’s where I come in.

I can sell nearly every item in a traditional house in 3 hours. 

My end of the month auctions move about 100 items in 90 minutes. 

I’m selling an item every 54 seconds. 

You come to me because you are ready to move on. If you are worried about getting the best price for your items you probably aren’t ready to let go.

But honestly, I feel like the prices we get for items are pretty realistic. 

  • $40 for a standard dining room set. 
  • $100 for a bedroom set.
  • $5 for a Barbie
  • $100 for a common .22 rifle
  • $20 for the complete set of your fine china

Half the time the biggest issue is space. The bigger the item the less appealing it is. Storage has a price. 

And then there’s the unique stuff…

Now that’s where things get interesting. There are things that my buyers crave. 

  • Old pottery
  • Real silverware
  • Old toys
  • Old sports memorabilia
  • Old signs

There are items that definitely go for a lot of money. But that’s because they are rare. 

If you collected everything that other people collected and they are selling their stuff right now you are selling into a saturated market.

Dolls. Most Dishes. Electronics. Exercise equipment.

You probably have this stuff and so does everyone else.

I can still probably sell it. You aren’t going to love what I’m going to get for it. But hopefully you are going to love that you can move on with your life and you didn’t pay someone to just throw your stuff away.

This is as honest as I can be about my profession. I am a liquidator / wholesaler when it comes to common household items. Real estate, antiques, cars, farm equipment. Those are an entirely different story. We can always have reserves on those items and they will likely sell for at least what you are asking.

But your furniture, housewares, clothes and stuff like that… the goal I have when selling that stuff is to move it. 

 

The Things We Save

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Pictured here are my mother’s dog tags. I can look at the year and know which dog likely wore each shiny medallion. I am saving them as treasures. I am not saving her over-50-piece set of Liberty Falls tiny houses. Which begs the question: why do we save the things we do?

Turn of the 20th century, we owned little, passed down items imbued with family history and sentiment, and we almost seemed better at letting go. Fast forward to the turn of the 21st century. We’ve spent the last 50 years as consumers, many of us with “disposable” income. But we’re not just giving that income to transient experiences. We’re collecting, choosing, saving and even hoarding the things we buy without thinking through their fate.

As an auction house owner, I am gaining insight about the fate of our treasures. I have harsh news. Sometimes the fate is a landfill. There is an undercurrent of nostalgia that drives the aftermarket of saved “stuff,” but there’s an incredible disconnect between those letting go and those taking on these items.

Redundancy

There is the flood of sameness to consider. For example many people over a certain age collected similar items and many remain unwanted by the next generation. There are the Hummels and angels and precious moments figurines; the beanie babies, boyd’s bears or Madam Alexander dolls; it goes on and on.

It can be hard to believe a buyer might want a McDonalds toy from the 70s or an old mineral spirits bottle or your aunt’s cast iron pan instead of things you’ve purposefully saved. There is a clear divorce of sentiment and value. They still know each other well, occasionally come together, but are in no way married.

Volume

Consider that 10.5 Million tons of textiles go to landfills. Things like clothes, rugs, cloth bags, stuffed animals, linens. Only the exceptional are wanted. Or how about the 9.4 million tons of e-waste a year? Your cordless phones and old televisions, printers, and computers are all irrelevant and also unwanted. Most clothes are donated. Linens and towels can sometimes go to dog shelters, but the aged electronics are unsalable and rarely donate-able regardless of condition.

Those might make sense, but would you be surprised to learn about the 9.8 million tons of furniture waste per year? We’ve sold couches for $2. Bedroom sets, full sets, for $25. Given away kitchen tables and chairs. We might blame Ikea, or our large houses, but if you have a storage unit full of furniture, you should know it may not be worth the cost of housing it.

What’s Valuable?

Old does not necessarily signify “value” any longer. Anything before the turn of the 20th century, sure. But the 30s? Not necessarily. It comes down to supply and demand, which feels cold and hurtful when it is applied to your grandfather’s film development equipment.

Styles come and go out of favor. There was an era, we shall call it the TGIF era, where vintage riff raff could be hung on a wall in a kind of cluttered admiration. But that charming 80s era has passed. Ikea has come now and will be a bygone era soon too.

We own so much more now than ever before. So a houseful gets sorted in this… “what’s hot now” way? The 50s? The 20s? The 80s? And unfortunately the answer to those questions can surprise and cut deep. Sometimes, everyone downsizing or passing on in a five year period collected the same things, and then the market floods and the value of their household items plummets.

If this fills you with an icky feeling, know that it does for me too. I hate telling people their things lack market value. But know that the collectors are not to blame, nor the stuff, nor the buyers, or the auctioneer!

Don’t Despair

The takeaway, in my opinion, is to never collect things for their perceived market value alone. Ever. Your jewelry, Swarkovski figures, art and linens and furniture should be bringing you and your family joy and purpose each day. They are gifts of the moment and serve your life here and now. They have no sure future beyond you. You bring the value to your things. The people you love might carry their value on, but it is just as likely that they will not or that they will choose things to treasure that you may have never expected.