Aaron and I love going to auctions. It's exciting to bid on some vintage, unique items; but you have to set some ground rules, or you will get burned.
1. Always preview the items in person. Most auction houses nowadays have an online gallery for looking at the upcoming auction items, but they don't show you the broken bits, discolorations, or any other flaws. You don't want to bid on an awesome-looking piece of furniture only to discover when you're loading into the truck that something is missing. Those mistakes can be costly and, frankly, depressing!
2. Create a budget. Don't spend more than you can afford to--you will want to eat later in the month, and spending your grocery money for the remainder of the month is dumb, dumb, dumb!!
3. Make a "list of priorities". Decide in advance exactly what you want to bid on. Don't waste your Benjamins aggressively bidding on a chest of drawers early in the day, when you really want an old Coke machine that is near the end of the auction. You're gonna want at the cash possible to end up the winner of that bid!!
4. Don't get into a bidding war! Okay, I am guilty of this one! The last auction we attended, I got into it with a dealer who had a lot more spending money than me, but I reaaaaaallllyyy wanted these lamps!! I spent more $$ on them than I had hoped to, but I was still within my budget. (Thank goodness!!)
5. Never be the first bidder on the starting bid!! Even if it's the one item you can't see yourself leaving without.It's hard, but keep your hand down! If no one else bids, guess what: the auctioneer will lower the starting bid. Score!! Now you can bid!!
6. Keep in mind that most auction houses have a buyer's premium of about 10%. That means that instead of paying a tax of 8.25% on your purchases, you'll pay 18.25% tax. Sounds costly, but if you get some cheap buys, it really isn't much. That ties into your budget....
7. Keep an eye out for items that aren't being bid on!! Aaron bought this amazing double-decker factory cart for a whopping $75. It's now our entertainment center. Restoration Hardware sells old factory carts--just the bottom part, mind you--for $700. Great deal, huh!
8. Don't be too serious. Auctions are a lot fun. I love to watch the bidders when they get all fired up, and the auctioneer's spitting out words so fast he sounds like a Pentecostal on Sundays.
But if you break your budget, I'm seriously going to come over and paddle your bum!
Here are some local auction houses. Contact me if you want to go because I'll take an opportunity to go along! Click on the links to find out more about them.
Bright Star Antiques
Sulphur Springs Auction