I’m a big believer in testing.
I’m very open to new ideas and strategies.
So that’s why I decided to run a tag sale followed by an auction this past weekend.
Let me set the stage for you:
This was a sale for a long-time collector who needed to move into a location with significantly less storage space. This was due to illness.
There were a lot of items. It completely filled, floor to ceiling, two single car garages.
The sale needed to happen in a week and a half. It also was going to be run in the middle of January in Northeast Ohio. There was no economical way to move it all to our auction house. And there was no place to hold it inside at their house.
The owner was interested in a tag sale. They are big in our area.
So, we decided to have a tag sale all day Saturday and Sunday morning. And then we’d follow up with an auction on Sunday afternoon.
The long and short of it is: We sold everything. That was the overarching goal. I don’t believe that would have been possible with one auction. It was too cold to stand around for hours. And people always get tired about 3 hours into an auction.
So I the tag sale / auction blend was good in this case.
But let me talk about it from two different perspectives: the seller and the auctioneer:
As the seller I feel like I made them a little more money going this route. I was able to price things a bit higher than I thought I’d get them at auction. And people bought them. Many of these people were regulars at my auctions. So they know what stuff goes for. But they bought them any way at a higher price. Maybe this was because it was cold and they didn’t want to stand around at an auction.
I feel like this was a good solution for a lot of small personal items in garages in the winter.
The question is: if it was a warm summer weekend, could I have gotten more money by having two auctions? Maybe a Saturday auction and a Sunday auction.
My instinct is yes. My regulars would have come to both auctions. And they would have ended up bidding against each other both days. Ultimately, I think I would have gotten more money total.
But… there’s a big but.
From the viewpoint of an auctioneer things were much more interesting.
I got a lot of people showing up that go to tag sales. My newspaper ad pulled a lot of new people. My auction people don’t use the paper. They just use Auctionzip.
Craig’s List also brought in new people.
This was a great opportunity to meet new people and invite them to our auction house.
They were good buyers. I think they liked the sale because we priced everything to sell. There is a widely known fact in our area that tag sale companies over price their items. They either take the left overs or leave them with the customer. We needed this stuff gone.
But my regular auction goers were interesting. Many of them came to the tag sale but didn’t come back to the auction. A few did, however. And they were my saving grace to move items.
I also know that they didn’t buy things at the tag sale that I know perfectly well they would have bought at the auction. If they had come back to the auction I feel like I could have gotten a higher price for the items at the end because there would have been some bidding wars.
But I had two new bidders that cleaned me out. One guy had never been to an auction before. And another lady hadn’t gone in many years. I think they loved the deals. I was so excited for them. An auction regular knows some items can go for super cheap. But these new people were pretty shocked at all they could get.
I don’t think they would have come if it had just been an auction. I think a lot of people are afraid of auctions. And truthfully, they can be a little intimidating to the newly initiated.
I’d say we got about 50 – 75 people to come to our tag sale. And we had 10 motivated buyers at the auction.
Having a sale in the winter is great, in my opinion. There isn’t nearly the amount of competition. And people definitely want to buy.
I just wish I had been able to have it in doors. But the items, and the sheer amount of items, didn’t make moving them to our auction house an economically viable solution.
Given the same situation, I think I’d seriously consider doing it this way again.
People were able to come and go quickly during the tag sale so they didn’t have to freeze waiting for their item to come up.
And then we were able to do the auction of the remaining items in about 2 hours.
The biggest issue as the auctioneer was the cost of doing the tag sale / auction.
I just charged a flat 25% for the entire operation.
Paying someone for 8 hours of a tag sale on Saturday, 4 hours on Sunday and then paying 3 people for 3 hours on the auction was a much bigger expense.
As I think about it, maybe an online auction would have been a viable solution in this case. I could have run the entire thing by myself if I wanted to.
If I did it again, I think I’d charge a labor cost of $100. That would have really taken the edge off the costs.
I might come up with some packages that people can buy. I’d keep the 25% commission and then offer a one day tag sale for $100. A 2 day tag sale for $200. A 2 day tag sale and $100 of advertising for $300. We’ll see what comes my way next.
I do think that I’d just skip the Sunday morning tag sale that we had before the auction. We got very few people. It didn’t really make it worth it. I might also consider ending the tag sale at 3:00 instead of 5:00.
But ultimately, I loved meeting the new people. I feel happy that we got what we did for the merchandise. I’d say it was a successful experiment that I’d try again.