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From Picker Dave

We’ve been running live auctions in our Roncy shop for a while now. Thursday the 21st will be our 40th one. We’ve found it’s a high energy method of getting new customers in our store; it also rotates our inventory and shakes up our floor plan. It’s not a huge money maker, we couldn’t feed the kids if we were just an auction house. Mostly its fun.

Taking what we’ve learned from live auctions we decided to try online auctions. After doing 4 of them it turns out they are just the same only different.

Our colleagues in the vintage business have taken notice; they gently make vague comments about offhandedly noticing something about “was that maybe you guys doing some online thingie”…What they want to ask is “DOES THIS PUT GOLD IN THE BOX?!!!!

I promised a few of them I would answer:

Trying to curate an auction is alchemy.

Mrs. H has given me very few rules, one that is firm is to “only buy things that you would have in your own home”. Sifting through the results of past auctions I found an antique duck decoy that sold for a lot of money. I knew of a supplier who had a nice selection and I bought a flock of 4 at $40.00 each.

They sat in the backseat as I drove them home. It takes an hour to go anywhere in downtown Toronto so the 5 of us had some time. Hand carved and lovingly painted by 4 different craftsmen, circa 1950’s, they we’re stunning.  I moved them upfront with me. By the time we got to the shop I knew they we’re special and decided to put them on the floor for $110.00 each, not to auction them off.

The floated around the shop for 6 weeks. Nothing. So I selected the best one and put it in an online auction. The duck was surrounded by 99 other lots, all good stuff, we were proud to brand it a “Mrs. Huizenga Auction”. I was excited to see how it would do when the auction closed on Thursday afternoon. I was going to make money selling something I really liked.

It sold for $11.31

Minus the 30% fee

I was sad. Sad that I lost us money but really sad that I lost my duck. I should have taken it home and kept it for the rest of my life. It was worth way more than 8 bucks to me...

The rest of the auction went well. We started another one immediately. It’s how we feed our kids.

All weekend long I lamented; I’ve never taken the time to learn how to lose gracefully. It was only one piece out of 400 but I didn’t care. My duck was gone.

On Monday morning I received an email titled “lot # 53. Duck Decoy”. Great, not only did I get gooned on the price but the buyer is unhappy about my duck.

I opened the email and it was a very polite, well written, gracious thank you note from the winner. He was so very happy to have the duck.

It was carved by his Grandfather.



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