Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shopping? No, Auctioning!

I am always on the hunt for something worth having at a steal. Designer sample sales, secret thrift stores my sister knows, Home Goods....Now consignment and auctions have also been on my mind thanks to a creative friend who just opened a fabulous consignment store in Pittsburg, PA. Jordan Deane of Redesignation is sharing her expertise on shopping at auctions. It's a great way to make a creative and personal home, affordably. Clearly she's got it down and has great taste; check out her store here!

Jordan thanks so much for sharing! Soooo...who wants to go auction shopping with me soon?

Jordan Deane of Redesignation :
I must admit that when Lisa first asked me to blog about my business, I was a little intimidated. I've read and thoroughly enjoyed some of her previous guest bloggers, and really had no idea [initially] what to write about. Now that I've been officially open for a month and a half, I feel like I can more confidently write to you about all things consignment.

First off, hi, my name's Jordan and I opened Redesignation--a furniture and home decor consignment shop in Pittsburgh, PA. When guests pay us a compliment on something in our home, I take such pride in being able to tell them where we found it and what a great deal we got on it. Now I'm able to offer others a way to experience this. Oh, I love my job!

The biggest question I get from customers is where do I find all my goodies. I love being able to tell them stories about the items they like. Generally, my answer goes a little something like this: about 10% comes from people consigning with me (hopefully more as my reputation grows), and then the rest comes from a combination of estate sales, flea markets, and auctions. Being that I now do this for a living, it enables me to walk in and walk out of an auction with some awesome pieces for a fraction of the cost. But I want you to know that auctions aren't just for furniture store owners. You, too, can go to one and score BIG, and I'm going to share how and why you should. 

I remember my first auction (especially since it was only four months ago). I was such a freshmen. I walked in nervously, with no idea where to start or what to do, until I located the sign in desk. Embarrassed by not knowing the drill, I asked this lady how to get a number and she snapped back at me about having an i.d. and registering first. Oh, boy. Once we got situated it was pretty much all fun and games from there. Like a chess match, there's a lot of strategy that can go into bidding. A couple thousand dollars later, my husband and I were surrounded by a circle of our successful bids that would originally cost upwards of $25k (see what I mean about finding some steals?). This was a very good start for our soon-to-be consignment shop, and the beginning of my love for auctions in general.

So how do you do it?  First of all, locate an auction you want to go to. There's an amazing website called auctionzip.com. Go to it, plug in your zip code, and viola, all the auctions within a 30 mile radius. You can browse through pictures of the items they're selling and sometimes descriptions. Make sure you read about their terms. Typically, there's a 10-15% buyers' premium. This means that you're paying that percentage on top of what you buy, so be sure to factor that in when you go to bid on something. Sometimes the percentage they take is less when you pay in cash. There's an auction out there for just about anything. Kitchens, lighting, vintage jewelery, furniture, art. You name it, you'll find it at an auction, and I guarantee you'll never want to walk into a home depot or furniture store and pay full price again.

Ok, next, bring your id, sign in and get your number (this is what you raise in order to bid on something). Then walk around and write down notes on anything you see that catches your eye. You never want to seem too eager for any given item, or someone will surely bid it up. Although it is illegal, I've seen it happen where people are planted to bid an item up so it goes for a higher price. Just make sure you're not telling people what you like. Always play it cool.

Second, never jump on the starting bid. Wait till the auctioneer goes to a lower number. If no one jumps on it still, shout out an even lower bid. If it's at $20, casually say you'll give them $15. They'll either accept it or say no, but most likely they'll allow it. You'll be amazed at the amount of people that were previously "uninterested" who are now bidding all over it.

Third, set a price in your head before you get into a bidding war. The auctioneers are good at what they do, and can sometimes bully you into going higher than you really want. Prevent this from happening by backing off of a bid, and let it go if it gets too high. They'll get to know you mean business, and hopefully not pressure you. Keep track of anything you win by writing down the lot number and price. At the end of the auction, you can collect your items and check out by paying. Hang on to your receipt and check it thoroughly for any mistakes. They usually check your receipt and items at the door to make sure you're walking out with the right stuff.

So that's my secret. I hope it makes going to an auction a little less daunting and encourages you to get out there and find some deals for yourself. Because let's face it, even though our economy's tanking, we still don't want our homes to reflect that. If auctions still aren't for you, maybe it means visiting your local consignment or thrift store. You never know what you're going to find, and that, my friends, is the beauty of it all.

Happy Hunting, everybody. 



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