Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Happy Home

Jessie Dorman was a school teacher.  She wanted her own house before she got married, so in the 1940's she bought the house on 205 Broadway in Casa, Arkansas.  To make the payments she walked five miles one way to the schoolhouse to teach elementary-aged children every weekday.
 She was a good teacher.  The house had many bookshelves built in and she didn't know it then but they would all one day be filled with knick-knacks and collectables brought to her by all her students.
 "She could still tell you years later which student brought her which gift," Shirley Bridgeman, Dorman's niece, said.
Eventually she met her husband, a Baptist minister.  They moved to another town for him to preach but Jessie left her sister and parents to care for the house, to which she and her husband returned after only a few years. 
Casa in those days was a booming little town and Jessie's house, and her yard, were well known.  The Dormans, the minister and the teacher, lived right across the street from the doctor.  On weekends Jessie could be seen working in her yard with her azaleas, flowers everywhere in full bloom.
"The yard was the main thing," Bridgeman said.  "People would drive by just to see it."
As a Baptist minister Jessie's husband would often meet with couples planning to get married, sometimes he would meet with them at his house, and when he did they sometimes asked if they could have their wedding there.
"It was so beautiful," Bridgeman said.  "There have been lots of weddings on that property."
Jessie and her husband lived happily in the home for many years.  Jessie is now in a nursing home, one of two of her eight siblings who have not battled cancer and the family has made the bittersweet decision to sell the house.
There are some houses that just feel warm and welcoming for no particular reason.  Some people say it's the "energy" of the home, others believe it's "place memory."  In this case maybe was all the weddings, the joy of two people starting their lives together imprinted on the property.  Maybe it was the flowers, with all their vibrance and colors lending their life to the home.  It could have been the children and their youthful enthusiasm with their gifts for their favorite teacher.  Maybe it was Jessie in her garden, her husband helping perhaps, the doctor waving from across the street as friends drove by to see her flowers.  Whatever it is, 205 Broadway is one of those homes.

Questions Answered

Attending an auction for the first time can be a little intimidating.  All I knew of auctions when I married my husband was what I had seen on TV: the indecipherable babble of the auctioneer, the even more indecipherable nodding of heads to confirm a bid, the numbers, crowds, and confusion.  What I found when I started attending auctions was very different.  The babble of the auctioneer took on meaning, the nodding of heads had a point, the numbers, crowds, and confusion achieved order and the atmosphere of the event was enjoyable, exciting, and something that I looked forward to at the end of each week.  First-time auction-goers sometimes have questions, I did and I certainly didn't want to ask seasoned veterans, so here are the answers to a few of the questions I had:

Q:  Will I understand the auctioneer?
A:  In a word, yes.  The auction chant is comprised of a series of numbers and filler words.  The auctioneer will start the bid on a specific number, "five" for example, then some filler words that are there to keep the rhythm of the chant (which is what I recognized as the indecipherable babble), then the auctioneer will look for a higher bid by saying and repeating the next number he's looking for, "ten" for example.  When he gets that, he'll go up to fifteen and so on.  

Q:  How do I bid on an item?
A:  When you check in at the auction trailer you'll be asked to give your name, address, and phone number which will be entered into the computer and a number will be assigned to you. You'll be given a bid card with that number on it.  If an item comes up that you wish to bid on you simply raise your card high enough for the auctioneer to see it.  In some instances the crowd is large and the auctioneer can't always have his eyes on all the people.  That is what ringmen are for.  There will often be about two or three people working with the auctioneer to catch bids, these are the ringmen.  They are always scanning the crowd and looking for bids and when they see someone trying to bid they'll get the auctioneer's attention and work with the bidder to make sure that they're getting it in.

Q:  Can I pay for my items any time or do I have to stay until the auction is over?
A:  The clerk is always near the auctioneer entering information into the computer.  The first thing the clerk enters is an item description, then the price for which the item sold, and the bidder number of the person who bought the item.  The computer that the clerk uses is linked via modem to the computer in the auction trailer so that as soon as the clerk enters the information on an item into her computer it is immediately accessible from the computer in the trailer.  So, if you wish to leave before the auction is over you can pay out at the trailer at any time.

Q:  Is it possible to bid on something without meaning to?
A:  Sometimes the auctioneer will take a bid from a person who didn't mean to bid, but usually the auctioneer and ringmen make eye contact and either gesture or nod their heads to make sure that they've got your bid.  If you do end up bidding on an item unintentionally the auctioneer will start the bidding again with the person who had the next highest bid, and it's not a big deal so don't worry.

Q:  Do I need to bring cash?
A:  Spear Auctioneers accepts cash, checks, and credit cards. 

Q:  What if I purchase I large item that won't fit in my car?
A:  Many times an auction site, especially one where there are lots of large items or equipment, will be open long after the auction for people to get their stuff.  Arrangements can usually be made to return the next day with a truck or larger vehicle.  Sellers tend to be very willing to work with you to make sure that you get your purchases.  

Q:  Is there any kind of warranty on the stuff I buy?
A:  Items sold by auction are sold "as is," but when there are vehicles or equipment the crew will usually try to start them up and see if and how they're running so people have a better idea of what they're bidding on.

Q:  If I'm only interested in one item, how do I know when it will come up for bidding?
A:  The auctioneer tries to move through a sale in order.  If he jumps around a lot it becomes more possible that he'll miss something.  High-dollar items such as vehicles and real estate will usually be sold at a scheduled time because most of the buyers for those items are there specifically for them.  Other items like coins, jewelry, guns, and collectibles are often sold at the beginning of a sale.

Q:  Is there anything to eat or drink there?
A:  There is usually a concession stand that sells hot dogs, hamburgers, sodas, chips, and bar-be-que that "smells so good I nearly bit someone," as ringman and auctioneer Don Dougan says.

Q:  Can I bring the kids?
A:  Absolutely!  An auction is a really fun way to spend a Saturday with the family.

If anyone has any questions that have not been answered here, please feel free to email me (my address can be found on my profile) or contact Spear Auctioneers.  Don't be intimidated if you're thinking of attending an auction for the first time.  Auctions are not nearly as confusing as they make them seem on TV.  They're a lot of fun whether you're just checking things out or planning some large purchases.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Customers and Friends

We're always glad when we see them coming, Big Bill in his big overalls and Patty in her smile. If you're standing next to Justin when they arrive, you'll hear her greet him with "hey good lookin', what you got cookin'?"  
Bill and Patty Austin have been doing business with Spear Auctioneers for nearly 20 years, and while they're out of town on business a lot you'll know when they're home because they'll be at every one of Spear Auctioneer's auctions, and recently they were on the selling end.
"Richard made us a lot of money, I'm tickled to death about it," Patty said.  "I'm thrilled to be able to use his resources."
Patty laughed about a yard ornament of a fish that she's "not ashamed to say" she bought at a yard sale for $20 dollars.  She said she thought she'd use it, but never did and ended up putting it in the auction as an afterthought.
"During the auction I heard people saying 'get to the fish, Richard, get to the fish!'  He ended up selling it for $185!  I was thrilled!" she said.
"I've never had anything but good dealings with Richard," Bill added.  "He's the utmost professional."
Bill and Patty are like family at Spear Auctioneers auctions and for good reason.  Patty says they try to hit every one of Richard's auctions and they'll stay all day and spend lots of money.
"That's just what we like to do," she said.
Like many people, the Austins attend auctions to get a good deal on a variety of items. They said that a lot of the things that they buy they resell and make a few bucks.  But getting a good deal is not the only thing that beings them to auctions.
"We like the whole atmosphere, everybody's in an upbeat mood, we've met lots of friends at auctions," Patty said.
Often they'll be the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave.  They know the whole crew by name and even become part of the crew offering their expertise on items like jewelry and coins and on hot days bringing water to clerks and ringmen.
When they decided to have their own auction Patty said Spear Auctioneers was the obvious choice.
I talked with her on the phone for this piece and she paused for a second, Big Bill was saying something in the background.
Finally she said "here's a quote from Big Bill: '[the auction] was all that I hoped it would be and more than I expected.'"
"We're just thrilled with our experiences with Spear Auctioneers," Patty said.
Patty, Spear Auctioneers is thrilled with you and Big Bill, and all our loyal customers and friends. 



Sold! on the Auction Method

Gary Sullivan isn't an auction-goer as we in the business tend to think of them: those people who plan their weeks around which auctions they'll attend, who come pulling trailers in anticipation of the purchases they'll be making, who stop by the Spear Auctioneers office to check on upcoming dates or sometimes just to chat.  Gary Sullivan is a man who, as a lot of people have been, was put in charge of a relative's estate after a death, and his sister LaDoris J. Minson and her fiance Billy D. Pack, Sr. each had quite an estate. 
"There was a large quantity of stuff and Richard was recommended to me," Gary said, "plus my sister loved dealing with him, so I thought she'd like that."
The auction was scheduled for May 10, 2008.  As that day approached Richard and his crew spent their days preparing the property.  When it comes to real estate the appearance of the property makes a huge difference in the dollar amount it brings.  A nicely trimmed hedge-line could mean the difference between making the sale or not.  In Sullivan's case there was a lot more than just real estate too.  There were cars, tractors, machinery, trailers, and household items aplenty.  
"The preparation was excellent, the crew did an amazing job of getting things running," Sullivan said.  "I learned a lot."
Sullivan said that he was happy about how the sale did, that it went "even better than expected." 
 Since that auction Sullivan said that he's been to a few of Spear Auctioneer's auctions and enjoys them.  He may not be planning his weeks around sales yet, but he seems to be sold on the auction method as a way of liquidating an estate or selling real estate, "I would do it again and I would recommend it.  I was amazed."