Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tsumanmi on the Mahoning River, 4.0 Earthquake Hits Youngstown

An enormous earthquake hits Youngstown, sending all of the locals into a frenzy as the Mahoning River rushed over its banks. The Tsunami created by the 4.0 quake, raged over the banks of the Mahoning creating havoc in the city of 70,000. The wave came crashing into the shoreline at an estimated 2 miles per hour setting off car alarms and disrupting the otherwise tranquil New Years Celebrations.

Local fishermen were caught off guard when the wave crashed into the shoreline upsetting fishing seats and tipping over cups filled with night crawlers. Frankie Fracking exclaimed "It was like somone throwed a rock in da water, n it made a big splash, I got wet!". His chair was seen floating down the river with hundreds of other chairs. The local economy is expected to be devastated.

The truth is...were all okay! Shaken, not stirred.

Friday, December 30, 2011

iPad from Santa

In the category of its not how big your computer is its the magic you perform with it, I got an iPad from Santa. There's only one small problem, I'm a computer idiot. It wasn't always this way,I was a computer whiz back in the days of IBM punch cards, in today's world I'm just plain stupid. The dog accidentally stepped on it and got more information than I can. div>So, if my blogs seem a bit confused during the next few days it is because the I'm completely out of it technologically. Antiques and collectibles, expert. Computers, not so much. Thank god things are slow right now, it will give a me an opportunity to learn how to use it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Shows On!

Break time is over. We just got word that we will be doing the antiques appraisals shows for Mid America Events. The show schedule starts in Columbus on the weekend of January 20-23 and ends in the spring with a show in Austintown, Ohio.

The shows are the reason that I originally began this blog. Starting today I'll be posting on a regular basis. I've also signed up for a Twitter account and as soon as I figure out how to use it (ten years from now) I'll begin posting there too.

It should be an interesting year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taking a Break!

Once in while you just have to take a break. Eatin lunch at the Magic Kingdom!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Check Your Change! Indian Head Penny

This afternoon we stopped by Giant Eagle (grocery store) to pick up a couple of last second Thanksgiving items. In my change much to my surprise was a 1905 Indian Head Penny. Indian Heads were last produced in 1909 so finding one still in circulation is pretty unusual. Thanks to the generosity of Giant Eagle and the person who spent it there I am now $4.00 ahead of where I would have been with a regular old Lincoln penny.

It may sound silly but always look at your change before you spend it. This time it was a reasonably good penny. The next time it might be a silver coin. Don't forget that silver coins are currently selling for around 25 to one. For those of you mathematically challenged a silver dime is worth $2.50, a quarter is worth $6.25 and a silver half is $12.50.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is here!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is one of my favorites because I really don't have to do anything but eat and watch football. I'm really not sure about how it could be any better until I start thinking of Thanksgiving past. So today I take a trip down memory lane.

When I was a kid (way back in the 60's) Thanksgivings were always spent at my Grandparents house. It was an interesting place because my Aunt, Uncle and cousins lived with them so you always knew that it was going to a full house. A typical Thanksgiving included the following family members:

My Mother
Sister, Linda
Aunt Glady's
Uncle Bill

Along with this set group we would also have between 4-10 others that would show up, announced or unannounced. It never really mattered though because it always ended up being a good time.

Back in 1965 we had three TV stations, no video games and blue laws. So nothing was open on holidays and Sundays. After dinner your choices were watching the Lions loose or play cards. I would choose the card games. What I wouldn't do today to play a game of Pokeno with this now mostly gone group of people.

This story however isn't really about Thanksgiving day, its about Thanksgiving stuffing. The Thanksgiving stuffing that I am sure that I'm the only person (and possibly Skip) who really knew what was in it.

Preparation for the dinner always began the week before. There was the planning on how many would be there (with an allowance for the freeloaders who came unexpectedly). Then a major trip to Kroger's was in store. I remember so well because of how much they bought. It seemed as though the bags of food coming into the house was endless. They would look at the sales slip and comment on how the cost of food was getting so high. I can remember them complaining about how a bag of groceries cost almost $10! Considering that the bags were five times the size of today's bags, which ironically hold about $50 worth of food.

They would spend what seemed like hours emptying out the buys. First, the canned goods, then the snacks, dairy into the refrigerator, an enormous turkey of 20+ pounds, bag after bag of bread and of course nine $2.00 cartons of cigarettes. Nana smoked LM's, Glady's smoked Pall Malls and Bill Lucky's. For those of you trying to figure it out they each smoked 3 packs a day. I spent the majority of my youth in a silver / blue fog that floated around the house 24 hours a day. Second hand smoke? You betcha.

The actual preparation of the stuffing was handled by Nana. She was a short, skinny temperamental Irish women who smoked incessantly. She would hit you with a broom, throw a can at you and tell you that she loved you all at the same time. The turkey would be defrosting in the kitchen sink as she chopped and cut the onions, celery and seasonings. She would then go into the living room to begin tearing apart the bread.

I can clearly remember her sitting in her green chair with the blond cigarette burned end table sitting next to it. The table was used as a staging area for the bread tearing. She would sit with four loaves of bread and a gigantic yellow Pyrex bowl. The bread would be ripped and put into the bowl, as the bowl became filled it would go back into the kitchen to be put into one of the large paper grocery bags. Over and over the process would be repeated until it was all complete. Nana throughout the whole process would be talking to me and Skip (my younger cousin), it was a continuous stream of whatever came into her mind. As she spoke she also smoked, and as she smoked she tore that loaf of bread into smaller and smaller pieces.

We were always mesmerized by the fact that Nana could keep an ash as long as a dogs tail on her still burning cigarette. It just never seemed to fall off. But she never seemed to try to knock it off either. As long as it would get she never reached for the ashtray.

Since the process of tearing the bread lasted about an hour, and she smoked about 10 cigarettes an hour, and she never took the time to knock off those ashes...get the picture. The secrete ingredient...LM ashes.

So, this Thanksgiving as your sitting around the table, with all of your relatives present, and you know that Grandma made the stuffing, and it appears to be seasoned with just the right amount of "pepper", hope and prey that she really did stop smoking.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Locker #4

Locker #4, the final one of the group. Would it be the winner? Would it have the rare circus banners that Barry gets on the Storage Wars show? Would it have Brandi's horse head, Darrel's coin collection or Dave's skeleton? Or would I have the same dumb luck that always seems to help out the downtrodden Jarred?

No. No. No. No. No and No!

It was another bunch of crap! The only way that this locker could have had any less in it would be for me to have found a dead body inside of it. What appeared to be good on the outside ended up being stained, dirty and mostly clothes. The funny thing is I'm really not complaining. The fact is that this is the reality of buying storage lockers.

No second guessing. No "I'm never going to do this again!". Buying storage lockers is just plain fun. Win, lose or draw they are gambling in its purest form. You throw several hundred dollars out on the table with the hope that this is the one. This weeks purchases ended up with me making a small amount overall. I expect to get about $900 back for the $750 that I spent.

It could be worse. I could have ended up with the same locker that I had earlier this year. See you at the auctions on Monday!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

UHaul Storage Locker Sale, Clean out day.

So, I went out yesterday and purchased 4 storage lockers. I haven't been buying too many lockers this year because Storage Wars has changed the landscape. In the old days (last year) a typical locker would sell for $250. A really good locker $500. Junk lockers would sell for a few dollars. Typically I was purchasing about 5 a month. The lockers provided a little extra money. Rarely great, sometimes bad, but most of the time you could double your money prior to expenses.

Not anymore. The average junk locker starts at $100 and often ends in the $5-600 dollar range. The typical locker brings around $1,000 and a good locker astronomical. Really though, there is no way to tell how good a locker is going to be. I've bought them for $35 and made hundreds, I've also bought them for $800 and sold them for nothing. It really is calculated gambling.

So, I was feeling particularly crazy on Wednesday and I gambled $700 on 4 lockers. I could go to Vegas but I prefer the friendly confines of the local U-Haul storage buildings. Below is my so far analysis.

Locker #1

Paid $100

No other bids. I opened up the bidding at $100 and to my surprise no one else bid. My first thought? Did I miss a giant tird laying on the ground just inside the locker door. It is in fact highly unusual these days for no one else to bid on a locker. This time it worked out ok for me. The locker yielded a decent matress set and frame, a sofa, and some decent household items. My estimated net, about $225

Locker #2

Paid $45

I opened this one up at $25 and there was one other bid. It looked like a bunch of junk and it was. The locker was a 5' x 8' and out of it came 10 small things, a paper mache santa ($75), a box with some Lenox china ($50) and a couple of small stands. The remainder was a pile of nothing. That nothing is going to be donated to the local shelter. For those of you thinking to yourselves "Gee that Dave is such a swell guy, giving garbage to the poor." you should be aware that the stuff isn't unusable. Its just not practical to try to sell it. It turns into a simple math equation where the cost to store it is greater that the value I can get for it, so I donate it.

Locker #3

Paid $150

I opened this one at $100 and had one bid against me. Sometimes being a bully and opening the lockers up at a high price works. In this case I thought that I had hit a solid triple. I could see two brand new looking appliances and a brand new looking micro fiber sofa and loveseat. I was pretty sure that I could get $4-500 out of the locker.

Wrong. The appliances (a washer and dryer) were good enough. I should get $2-250 for the pair. The sofa's were a different story. They were in perfect condition. No spots, stains, smells, dog hairs or cigarette burns. I really don't think that they were ever used, there were no mm's under the cusions nor were there any potato chip crumbs. They were in unused condtion.

So, why did they take the cover off of the middle cushion on the couch? Did they need it for matching paint chips? Did they use it to clean up a spill on the kitchen floor? It doesn't matter what they did with it, it just simply was not there. It wasn't under the sofa, it wasn't in the washer and it wasn't hanging on the wall. So, short and simple I have a nice micro fiber loveseat. The sofa I currently have no clue as to what I'm going to do with it. By any chance do any of you want a sofa without the middle cushion? If you do give me a call.

Total value of locker #3, about $350...and one micro fiber sofa for my permanent collection

Locker #4 is still waiting for me. Stay tuned for to see how it turns out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Storage Locker Day!

Dave Hester would be proud of me! I managed to buy 4 lockers today. Hopefully they will turn out better than the last bunch. I will hopefully be telling you about the millions that I made in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

French Provincial Living Room Sofa and Chair

I recently went into a local home to give some estimates on what their furniture was worth. I normally love doing these types of appraisals. It gives me a chance to show off my superior intellect on antiques and to bring joy to people by telling them how fantastic their antiques are. Then there is the flip side, it is when my normally great sense of value gets conflicted with reality.

This particular set was in perfect condition. It was if it had been in Marie Baron's (Everybody Loves Raymond) living room covered with plastic. Not a rip, tear or wrinkle. No stains, dog hair or cat scratches. No smoke, no smells and no fading. They had never been sat on. She paid over $2,000 for the pair. In the heat of the moment I blurted out; " They should bring at least $500 at auction.".

Wrong. I should have known better. Sometimes, what seems to be reasonable is not. Although these were perfect in every conceivable way they just weren't what the auction crowd wanted that night. They brought a whopping $140.

No matter how hard you try, no matter how much experience you have and no matter what seems reasonable, auction crowds tend to make up their own rules. I still believe that the set should have brought $500. Oops!

Monday, November 7, 2011

WWII Forget-Me-Not Bracelet

Not all Sterling Silver items need to be scrapped. During WWII forget-me-not bracelets were made and given as remembrance tokens for those going off to war. The simple connecting links each contained the name of a person to be remembered. Some went off to war, while others were worn by those left at home.

Scrap sterling value of this item is about $12.00. Collectible value of a bracelet like this, around $160. Expect the typical bracelet to be worth $20-25 per link. Look for them in old jewelry boxes and veterans collections.

Great time to sell on the internet, but the shipping is for the dogs!

So you have all discovered how good selling is on the Internet this time of year, there's only one problem......shipping.

The selling part is fun! You watch the final minutes of your online auction tic away, and then, hooray! Your item sells for 10 times more than you expected. You are excited beyond belief until you find out that your winning bidder is (insert drum roll):

Hakeem Obongolotsasuttamonga
ak45wx Conanamachalingo
Marakesh, Congo, East Nevagonafindit

That's right, Hakeem did not read your listing that you ship to the U.S. only, in addition he thinks that your free shipping label, includes him in Nevagonafindit. Put this together with the fact that you had 78 other items close at the same time and the problems really start to mount. And, if all of that wasn't enough, the postal office is behind in getting you those "free" shipping boxes. So what do you do?

You get help, any help that you can. At our house we came up with a simple solution, we gave the shipping job to "Gus". He is pictured here getting ready for this weeks shipping. On the bad side the lack of an opposable thumb makes it difficult for him to use the tape dispenser. On the positive side he works for biscuits.

As it turns out, Hakeem did not want to pay the additional $168 in shipping to Nevagonafidit. So the item will be relisted and will probably sell for next to nothing...ahhh, the joys of Internet selling.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Postcards

Postcard's originally sold for a penny and cost one penny to send. Once received people often kept the cards in albums as keepsakes and as colorful collectibles. Today, a hundred years later they are no longer sent for a mere two cents, they are still collected as keepsakes and colorful collectibles.

This particular card was recently sold on eBay for $910. Yes, you read that correctly, nine hundred and ten dollars. Condition, along with being embossed (the raised printing) were major contributor's to this price. Halloween cards have always been favorites to card collectors. Add all of this to selling the item at the right time of year and you end up with what seems like an absurd price.

Cards can be found just about anywhere. I've seen them in albums, used as bookmarks and in bundles with rubber bands holding them together. They can often be purchased inexpensively at garage sales and auctions. To be successful at buying cards you need to do one important thing, look. That's right, look. It is a very simple process, when you see a group of cards being offered for sale, look at them. Don't be lazy and offer a blanket excuse that they are just a bunch of postcards that aren't worth anything. You may be passing up a golden opportunity to make a lot of money.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Allright, Enough Already!

Art Deco celluloid ring box.


It doesn't have to be gold to be worth something!

Gnome Pinecone Elves Ornaments

Verified, It is now time to sell your Christmas items on Ebay! The GENIUS strikes again!!


Harold Gale, Kansas City Royals Santa Claus

In January of this year Stephanie attended an auction and saw this little Santa Claus standing with two of his Santa friends in a box on the junk rows. The junk rows almost always sell last at our local auctions so she needed to be patient to purchase it. After waiting for 2 hours and 45 minutes she purchased the group for $5.00. I threw them into the back of the truck (during a snowstorm) and brought them home. At home they went into hibernation in the basement until last week.


That's right, one hundred seventy two dollars and fifty five cents. She's a genius.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Singer Sewing Machine 99K

Most older sewing machines are nothing more than novel relics from the past. The world is full of Lady Kenmore's, Brothers, White's and Singer's. Virtually every home that we go into has some type of sewing machine. They are easy to overlook and most people don't even consider them when they show up at auction. So, why should we care?

Because although most machines are worthless, there are many that are not. This particular machine turned up in a household that we recently purchased. I personally have become lazy when it concerns consul type machines. They are everywhere, I normally don't even bother to take them out of the houses. Once again, in steps Stephanie (my wife). I would have put this out at the curb. As she pointed out I need to spend more time considering the value of everything and not just the things that I like.

Her quick (I didn't bother to look) look at ebay showed that these are selling for $150 to 400. The best part is they come right out of the stand, which still allows me the joy of putting something out at the curb. The bottom line is to check out everything, and don't assume that because your not interested in it that someone else may be.

Oh yeah, people will even buy parts off of them. An old freind sent his kid to college on the parts off of old sewing machines.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I've been away! Not Really.

Over the last few weeks I have started and not finished numerous blogs on antiques. I haven't finished any of them. Why? Am I getting to picky? Lazy? Just plain ran out of things to say?

No, none of the above. The truth is I have been just plain busy. It seems that every time I sit down to write a new blog something happens to throw me off course. Anyone who knows me will tell you that all you have to do is wiggle something shiney in front of me any whatever I was concentrating on is forgotten. It comes with being ADD, or is it Dad, or is it any one of the other things that I try to be?

So, today I am going to try to describe just what I do for a living. I am an auctioneer, appraiser, auction helper, picker, garage saler, storage locker buyer, online auction photographer, estate buyer, ebayer, craigslister, flea marketer, antiques show dealer, auction seller, booth renter at an antiques mall and blogger. Usually I'm not doing all of these at the same time, lately it seems as though all of them have in fact been happening at the same time.

So, I've been cheating on the blog. It seems that I have more fans of the blog than I really knew. It all started as a way for me to write the book on antiques that I always thought I had the ability to write. As it has turned out maybe its better. This blog gives me the abiltiy to simultaneously write about antiques and tell all of you what I really think of the business. Bottom line; time for me to get back on the bloggin.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Beer Mugs

Beer mugs and steins were being sold by the millions in the 1990's. They became almost as common as collector plates. So what are they worth today?

In general not too much. Most mugs perfect in the box can be purchased for a couple of dollars each. I really don't recommend investing too heavily in this type of collectible. Millions were produced and in the 1990's people were beginning to catch on to keeping the items perfect in the box, so there are a lot of them out there. If you do feel the need to buy, use them. Keeping them in the original box just isn't going to payoff, at least not in our lifetimes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gonna Go 4 Wheelin

Whenever I go to an auction, garage sale or house call, I go with the attitude that I will buy anything that can possibly result in a net profit to me. Sometimes its antiques and collectibles, sometimes its tools and other times Honda ATV's. This fine piece of machinery was sold to me at a garage sale last month. They initially asked $500 for it. I ended up paying $250. Why such a high discount? I'm not really sure. All I did was acted like it was too much. They actually reduced the price without me saying a single word.

Apparently they really wanted to sell it! Five hundred dollars really was too much, but when they almost immediately reduced the price to $250 I just couldn't resist. I've never taken one of these things for a ride before so my dog Ekho, took it by the reigns to show me how. She raced around in circles for about 1/2 hour in my back yard. Although she really enjoyed the ride, in the end I had to break it to her that we just couldn't afford to keep it right now. Disappointed, she asked for a photo to remember her day with.

The photo taken it was now time to sell the ATV. Onto Craigslist it went and it sold in less than a day. Don't be afraid to buy it just because its not an antique. Because a $200 profit on an ATV is just as good as a $200 profit on a set of sterling flatware...and just think of the memories that your dog will have.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Went to the antique show. Had a chandelier. A women saw it. She fell in love. "Are all of the crystals there?". "Yes, they are.". She made the purchase. Took the chandelier and walked away. An hour later I looked down at the ground. Oops!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

iS it tRaSH Or iS IT TReaSuRE?

We went to an auction today. No real surprises there since I go to multiple auctions almost every day. What was special about today's auction? Absolutely nothing. But on the other hand I haven't been very diligent about posting lately so I might as well tell you about what I did today.

It has been crazy busy. It seems as though the number of auctions that have been being held is just phenomenal. I can literally go to auctions from the time that I get up (well not quite, it seems the rest of the world thinks that 5:00 am is a little too early) until the time that I go to bed (another lie, since I'm tired from getting up at 5:00). So why all the action?

Its really simple, auctions are the easiest way to get rid of a lot of stuff in a short amount of time. No other method of selling can get you results as quickly as an auction. In our area auction prices seem to be going wild. Partly because of the influx of stuff (from the multitude of auctions happening) and partly due to the extreme overabundance of television shows depicting the massive amount of money that everyone is making by going to them.

Today for me was fun. My wife Stephanie got up early with me on her day off and away we went. It was a 60 mile drive to the auction that was held in West Virginia. The town located along the Ohio River, contained two old buildings full of antiques (junk). Kiko Auctioneers from the Canton,Ohio provided the auction services. West Virginia provided the scenery. The local people provided the competition. The seventy year old wearing a purple thong provided the sexual tension (it was like a car wreck...you just had to look). I just spent money.

My purchases included a Hire's Root Beer barrel dispenser, a 12 gallon decorated stoneware crock, porcelain signs, an old oak alarm system box, an oak candy dispenser and 30+ metal storage containers. Will I make some money on this pile of junk? I think so, but there are no guarantees. I took a few photo's of the truck filled with this stuff because I thought you might find it interesting. Oh yeah, we stopped off to deposit a few quarters(pennies) in the slot machines at Mountaineer Casino's on the way home. We should have kept on going.

Anyways the antiques (junk) will be for sale at the Springfield Antiques Extravaganza (flea market would have been enough) this Friday. So if your in the area, stop on by and take some of these antiques (junk) off of my hands.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It Doesn't Have to be Gold to be Scrap!

The world has gone gold and silver scrap crazy! Virtually everywhere that you go someone is either buying or selling scrap gold and silver. Don't get lazy. Gold and silver aren't the only metals worth something in the scrap market. You want to be looking for any type of scrap. In this case I purchased 50 pounds of aluminum at a garage sale for $10. Scrap value? About $40. So don't fall asleep at the wheel by just looking for gold and silver. I purchased this at 9:00 am and had my money by 10:00 am. It was a two mile ride from the garage sale to the scrap metals buyer.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Speaking Out

I am a regular at garage sales, auctions, flea markets and just about anywhere else that I can purchase items to resale. I work almost incessantly. I'll leave the house at 4:00 in the morning and come home at 1:00 am. I work in freezing cold, pouring rain and blistering heat. I do this because I know just how difficult it is to survive in this business. Others do the same thing. It is after all "The early bird gets the worm.". Today I am home mostly in anger, partly in disgust and mostly because of my lack of belief that people really are this &*cking stupid.

I came home early so that I can tell you about the 97 degree heat that we are having here in Youngstown today. I am home to tell you that I really didn't find too much today. I am home to tell you that I just witnessed a garage seller leaving an infant child in the backseat of her car, which was sitting in the sun, to peruse a garage sale for approximately 10 minutes.

Ten minutes, I know this because she was there ahead of me and I was there for 10 minutes. In ten minutes time the temperature in my open windowed truck rose to around 110 (just a guess but probably pretty close). For 10 minutes a 4-5 month old sat in a closed windowed car, that was sitting in direct sunlight, while her caretaker attended a garage sale.

When I first arrived at the sale I recognized the caretaker from a prior garage sale today. I initially passed the car without thinking or looking at it, there was absolutely no reason for me to give it any notice. I wandered around this particular sale a little longer than normal because it was border line interesting. I half payed attention to the other garage salers only noticing that the person who had left the car ahead of me was purchasing a candle and a chair. Not seeing anything that I wanted to purchase I headed back down the driveway.

As I passed the car in front of mine I thought that I heard a crying sound. After glancing at the car, I saw a small crying child strapped into a car seat. Stunned at first I looked to see if anyone else had noticed. It appeared as though the person parked on the other side of the car started to get out to say something to me. Too late. I was already on my way back up the drive.

On my trek back up the drive I was torn between saying "the hell with this person" and calling 911, or saying to them "are you really that stupid?". I went with the "are you really that stupid?". The answer is "yes, she is". After my speaking to her she immediately left the sale, of course carrying the important load of candles and a single chair, to attend to her protege. He appeared fine and with an angered look on my face I left her to her ways.

I really wasn't sure if it was a momentary lapse in judgement or if she should be put into jail. I truly hope it was a momentary lapse. Lets not forget about the poor women who just plain forgot about the sleeping baby when she bought doughnuts for work. Accidents do happen.

In my opinion garage sales and auctions are not the place to take infant children. This person should have stayed home and watched Sesame Street with the baby instead risking its life so that she could buy a candle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gone! The Lincoln Departs Us!

Sadly, my short lived cruising days are over. After 3 weeks the Lincoln sold today. Other than the fact that it took up a huge amount of space its good to know that large items like this can be sold. I purchased the Lincoln for $1,000 and with a little selling expense it sold today for $1,500. Not bad. If someone told you that you could make an additional $500 (less income taxes of course) with very little effort, would you do it?? Most people would say yes. Paying attention at auctions, any type of auction, can payoff for you. Full credit for this one goes to my wife Stephanie. If she hadn't kicked me in the butt and said "Do you see how cheap that car is?", I may not have gotten it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Last of The Storage Locker

When I began this particular blog my goal was to give everyone a "what its really like" feeling about purchasing storage lockers. The week that I chose this particular locker to write about I had actually purchased a total of four lockers and two automobiles at the storage sales. I chose this locker to write about for one reason; it was completely full. In my mind completely full meant that there would be a cache of hidden treasures, things that I could tell you that I made hundreds on, I wanted to show that the hard work could be worth it.

I was wrong.

This storage locker turned out to be a total disaster. In total I spent close to $1,000 to purchase and clean out the locker. I made 11 trips to Akron from Youngstown, each trip measured over 100 miles in total driving distance. I spent more than 3 hours after arriving working on the mess, in mostly oppressive heat inside of a tin building. There were times that I felt like Cool Hand Luke when he was locked up in the tiny metal building doing penance for his wrongs. All of this suffering was done in the name to make money, or in this case to not.

I took a total of 22 loads of dirty clothing to the local Goodwill to be turned into rags. I took an additional 8 loads to the local charity to hopefully be redistributed to someone in need. My total take out of a 10' x 20' storage locker, one, even with the truck bed load that I managed to sell for $600. Pretty lucrative. The good news is I did make money on the other units that I bought. Not a great amount, but it was enough to offset the loss on this unit and still enable me buy a bag of rice to feed us with this week.

The end summary is as I stated long ago and far away, "Storage units are high risk.". You can make money on them, but you can also loose money on them and to make matters worse, you just can never tell which ones are truly good, and which ones are truly bad. It is like being Ladigo Smith (movie Support Your Local Sheriff) and putting all of your money on red 23 in the hopes that the roulette Gods will appease you. So, for those of you with a sense of adventure, this manor of making money may be just for you.

I would strongly recommend that those of you who don't have a good distribution structure to get rid of things, or those of you who own Honda Civics and think that it couldn't possibly be that hard to clean out a locker, STAY AWAY! It is far easier to go to the local auctions where everything has been cleaned and laid out for your viewing. Lockers are a tremendous amount of work and can be either great, or in this case damaging to your business.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Over ten feet and still counting. The snow this year just doesn't want to stop. I thought that last year was bad when we had over 30 inches in one night. This year is a different story it just seems to be snowing continuously. Today when I woke up 8 fresh inches coated everything from my car to the fine antiques and collectibles that were sitting on the back of my trailer.

The first two hours of my day is being spent relocating all of this snow. Two hours on the driveways (mine, my neighbors (because I'm a nice guy), my mothers, then Uncle Joe's). Uncle Joe's always takes the longest because shoveling the snow just isn't enough. Afterwords, I must talk to him, then talk to his wife, then talk to the care givers, then take him to Dunkin Doughnut's. I really don't know who's crazier, him or me.

After the snow comes the trip down to my storage building to unload the trailer. I really should have done it last night but the minus 15 degree temperature and 20 mile an hour winds convinced me that morning would be better. Wrong again, its still minus 15 the wind is now 3o mph and of course 8 inches of snow. Oh yeah, the building has no heat or electricity. It is however a bargain to rent. The added bonus is that the mice know that good nesting materials are avialable in the barn and they take advantage of it.

Now that I am sufficiently frozen I'll start the next part of my day, warming up. Since my wife works going home isn't really an effective option so I head to my favorite hangout, McDonald's. The golden arches supply me with a decent cup of hot chocolate. This along with the outstanding help (tattoo's covering every part of their body, unusual odors, greasy hair and dirty clothing) make it the perfect place to "warm" up.

The next part of my day will be spent going to a couple of local "weekly" auctions. Today's fare is typical of this time of year, lawnmowers, kids toys and broken furnishings fill the buildings. Unfortunately, everyone has the same problem, the people of the state of Ohio go into hibernation in the winter time. The only active ones are the finest antiquers in the world, the garbage can pickers. Their motto: "No Hefty left unopened!", is proven by the quality of the merchandise that shows up at these auctions.

Finally, home again. I'll watch TV, pet the dog and maybe drink a glass of wine. Winter is GRAND!

Moral of the story: Quit complaining about how hot it is.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Billy the Kid Photo $2,500,000

Just short of two million five hundred thousand dollars.

Just short of two million five hundred thousand dollars.

Just short of two million five hundred thousand dollars.

Just short of two million five hundred thousand dollars.





Is how much a photograph of Billy the Kid sold for. For those of you keeping track;

You could purchase (at 20 cents a piece) 12,500,000 photo's of me.
You could purchase (at $3.59 a gallon) 696,378 gallons of gas.
You could purchase (at $8.25) 303,030 tremendous 12's at Perkins for breakfast.
You could purchase (at $2000) 1,250, 1979 Lincoln Continental, Mark 5, Bill Blass Editions.
You could purchase (at $1.29) 1,937,984, 16 oz bottles of Coca Cola.

Or you could purchase one photograph of Billy the Kid. Killer, cattle rustler and participant in the Lincoln county War a worn out photograph is worth $2,500,000.

I love the antiques and collectibles business and I am truly appreciative of the fact that so many people have a passion that sometimes seems to exceed good sense in their collecting fields. It just seems to me that two million and five hundred thousand dollars for a photo of a killer is a bit excessive. I have not included a photo this time because I am afraid of being sued for copyrite infringement. Anyone who would pay that kind of money for a photograph is probably going to protect it with a team of attorney's.

This is another example of you should look at every single item being offered for sale. Although this particular photograph was sold by the family of the original owner great things can sometimes show up in unusual places. So keep your eyes open and never quit looking, $2,500,000 may be in the next box lot that you don't look in.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Son Your Going To Drive Me To Drinkin If You Don't Stop Drivin That Hot Rod Lincoln

Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen said it all and today guess what I'm Drivin? That Hot...Rod...Lincoln!

What I do for a living is just plain fun! I go to auctions, garage sales, flea markets and just about anywhere you can imagine seeking out...well just about anything that I think that I can sell. On Monday I went to a small sale in Warren, Ohio, and look at what I came home with, a classic 1979 Lincoln Continental, Mark V, Bill Blass Edition automobile. Oh yeah, just for the record I bought a GMC pickup truck too.

This thing is a blast! It is like driving a tank with a marsh mellow ride. My wife and step daughter went for a short ride with me in it tonight and absolutely loved it. My step son told me that I'm not allowed to get rid of it, and people everywhere were just plain in awe of it. It comes complete with 1979 power everything that includes a Cartier clock and a Quadraphonic Eight Track player. With any luck I'll find my Meatloaf, Bat Out of Hell eight track to play tomorrow.

But, alas I'm in the business of finding and selling things. Tomorrow morning it will be up at the corner for sale. For anyone interested give me a call it is bargain priced and runs great!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Storage Locker Blues

Today, I finally decided to get back to my ongoing project in Akron, Ohio, the storage locker. You have seen the clothes, the packed unit and the huge cache of money that we found in a small chest. My return trip produced no treasures, only trash. Today's pickings; a closed refrigerator, a grease filled washer, a stove and a dryer.

Let's start with the stove. Most people use stoves for cooking, a few people use them for heating their homes and this stove must have been used as an alternative food storage area. I say this because the top is encrusted with a heavy coating of leftover food. The entire top is covered with several layers of soups, cheeses, various greases / fats and of course a huge grouping of I don't know what to call it. All of this fine storage coupled with several broken elements makes this a prize ready for only the finest homes. Apparently among the now ninety plus bags of clothing items they didn't have a single rag to wipe off the stove with.

The grease filled washer is something that I can honestly say I have never seen before. Just how do you get a heavy coating of some type of greasy substance on the inside of a washer that you never used? I know that they didn't actually use it because there was not a single piece of clothing that was clean. The heavy film will probably need a good strong dose of ammonia to put any type of dent in it.

The dryer, full of dust, need I say anymore.

But the coup de grace is the refrigerator. Anytime that you enter a storage locker and see a closed door refrigerator or freezer you know that you are in for a treat. When a refrigerator is in operation, closing the door and keeping it closed are absolutely the correct thing to do. When they are shut off, not such a good idea. Experience has taught me to remove the refrigerator from the storage locker before opening the door. Take my word for it this is the best way to do it because people often leave items in the refrigerators when they store them, remember we are not always dealing with the cream of the crop when it comes to people who rent these units.

After removing it from the building I was ready (kind of ) to proceed. Viewing the lush black fungus that had accumulated on and around the door seals still didn't prepare me for the mess that was contained within. In all of my years I have never seen the inside of a refrigerator that had turned completely black. The white sides...black, the clear plastic bins...black, the door seal...black and on and on it went. The leftover pickle jars were permanently affixed to the shelves by a furry black mold. I'm just not sure that there is enough Clorox in the world to fix this one. I'm sure that the scrap yard is going to discount the weight of the appliances to allow for the growth both on, in and around them.

So, how have I done on this locker so far? Pretty bad. I am expecting to loose around $300 after I include the trips back and forth to Akron to pick up the contents.

But, don't cry for me. I purchased 3 other storage lockers and two cars in the last 6 days. I am going to do very well on the other 3 lockers and the cars...who knows! The joys of being a junk dealer. I will add some photo's tomorrow after the final day of cleaning out the locker.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Storage Lockers, The WOW Factor!

The WOW factor, Darrel talks about it all of the time on Storage Wars. Today, I experienced it myself. After 3 days of diligent digging, prying and moving dirty clothing it finally happened, the big WOW!

The big WOW occurred moments after a pair of women's size 28 underwear came tumbling out of a bag directly into my face, I found this chest full of money!!! I've witnessed it on the shows but never really had it happen to me. Today was my day.

After careful examination for booby traps, hidden locks and the dreaded attack dog I gingerly opened the treasure box. I was in at state of absolute shock when the cash started tumbling out.

Three dollars and eighty cents. WOW! Almost enough to buy a Happy Meal at McDonald's.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Storage Locker, Goodwill Here We Come!

When Daryl, Dave, Barry, Jarrod and Brandon purchase storage lockers all you really ever hear about are the great things that they find. Inevitably there's a scene of Barry throwing things all over the place or Dave with his crew of thousands going through each and every pocket finding nothing but treasures. They never show the massive volume of totally useless garbage that most of these units really hold. Being adapt at getting rid of "everything else" is one of the key issues with buying storage lockers. I use a variety of avenues; auctions, flea markets, Craigslist and Goodwill are just a few that I utilize.

The first order of business, extending the time limits on getting everything out. In many cases this can be one of your best defenses against making a major mistake. In other cases (like this one) it is the only prayer you have of cleaning it out. I do not have a cast of thousands, I have me (and sometimes Stephanie), myself and I. This complimented with a 5' x 8' open trailer is how I remove everything. Rainy days are potential nightmares, the open trailer limits me to sunny days only. So time is always an issue. I solved it this time by taking advantage of the first 30 days rent free policy of this particular storage company. Its real simple, sign the contract, pay $22 and give notice prior to the first 30 days expiration, and its free!

So, now I have additional time. So here is what I saw both when I purchased the locker and today.

The first clue that maybe I was in over my head...LOCKER 13

The second clue that maybe I was in over my head...IT WAS FULL OF DIRTY *%IT!

Actually, this is pretty typical. You don't buy storage lockers because they are pretty. You buy them because you are trying to make money. Every locker is different. Some are neat and clean, some are a mess. This one looked like someone was pissed off. Everything was just thrown in. How it gets there always makes you wonder about what the history is. Did someone die? A messy divorce? Or where they just pigs?

I have a routine that I try to follow on every locker that I purchase, first I get all of the clothing out that I can, next household and general merchandise and finally I remove antiques / anything of value. This plan is often interrupted by finding something cool as your going through everything else. The first day this time, was spent emptying out clothing, shoes and books. Some of the more interesting things that have happened so far; unwashed underwear, dog feces in the clothing and lots of broken stuff. Aside from the dirty underwear it was pretty typical. Most people will leave underwear but it is normally clean underwear, today that was not the case. Bag after bag of clothing came out of the unit. Three trailers full so far

As you can plainly see its not as great as the shows make it seem. It is hard work, followed hopefully by profit. The unfortunate thing is it doesn't always end in profit. Today, three trips to Goodwill, tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Storage Lockers!

It has been a while since I've said anything about storage lockers, today however we begin again. Ever since the advent of the storage auction shows it has been virtually impossible to buy them and make any money. Since I am intellectually gifted (I can count to eleven with visual assistance) I decided since I couldn't outbid them I would sell to them. So the adventure of auctioning storage units began. The problem with this is every other auctioneer in the country also wants to sell the storage lockers. Easy money? Yeah, pretty much. But recently the tide has begun to change.

The craze isn't over. But it has subsided significantly. A few short months ago I wrote about a storage auction that had over 200 people in attendance. Today, I went to a group of storage auctions that had no more than 12 people in attendance. The result...I may have actually made some money.

The first 5 lockers looked like trash that absolutely no one would want. One unit had a glass top table and nothing else. Another unit had a lawn mower, 4 bald mud tires and a life size personal vinyl blow up doll. The doll did spike interest in the unit and it garnered final bid of $10. The gentlemen who bought it was all smiles and stated that he was going to give it to a friend as a gag gift. Yeah, sure.

Finally, we arrived at unit number 6. The door drawn upward with a great deal of effort revealed a unit that was filled to the maximum. Boxes were literally falling out as the door went upward. Amazed I asked "How deep is the locker?", the answer was it measured 10' x 20'. It just had to be good!

I opened the bidding at $100. Someone bid $105. Not really feeling like going in $5 increments I next bid $200. The next bid $205. This went on for a while, finally, I ended up paying $525 for the locker. I literally had to force the contents back into the unit in order to close the door. I slipped my lock on and proceeded to the next unit.

Dog pee. A lot of it. That was the only thing that I knew about the next locker. It smelled so bad (helped along by the 95 degree temperature) that I could not bring myself to bid on it. The final winning offer, $1. I hope that the person who bought it has a high tolerance for the smell of urine.

The last location had 3 units available. The first looked intriguing. It had a mounted deer head, bedroom furniture and miscellaneous in boxes. I really wasn't too enthused about this one and it sold for a final bid of $110. The next unit wound up being mine. It just looked right. A safe on the floor, gun sights in plain view, tools and totes of who knows what. I opened it at $25, the five dollar bidders were out again and after 10 total bids I purchased it for $250.

Then the last locker. It WAS A DOUBLE! Huge units usually mean lots of great stuff! The doors opened to reveal a locker full of doors, old shelving, packing blankets and cabinet bases. I jokingly said that if anyone wanted to bid on the unit that I would give them $10 for the blankets. No one bid.

As we were returning to the office to make payment the unit was re offered to me for $1 and I could take what I wanted. Extremely low risk, I accepted. Under normal circumstances you are required to remove everything. Since all I had to do was take what I wanted (I offered $10 for the blankets) this one should turn out to be fantastic.

So, starting at 5:00 am tomorrow I will begin the adventure of cleaning out the 3 lockers that I purchased. For me a lot of work, hopefully with money to be made in the end. For you the chance to live vicariously and see what really happens on the adventures of a habitual junk buyer. Stay tuned. I'll take lots of photo's and try to describe the the good, the bad and the ugly.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kasich Crimes

So Governor Kasick has decided that the auction industry is not exempt from his absolutey restrictive thinking. HB 114 which is for Transportation has a piece of legislation that restricts free business practices for auctioneers. It is my guess that he must have had a major campaign contributor who is in the auction industry. There is simply no logical reason to put this piece of legislation into law.

Very simply the law was snuck through as an attachment to a bill that otherwise has nothing to do with the auction industry (American politics at its best). The law states that an auctioneer must have a property of over 90 acres and a building of not less that 60,000 feet in order to conduct auctions of construction equipment. It may seem silly to many of you that I am complaining about this, but if you had told me two weeks ago that I would be conducting the sale of two model C Steinway piano's at the same time you would understand my concern.

Restricting the auction industry so that only a few individuals (or companies ) can conduct business is nothing more that pandering to your donors. A law such as this only serves to restrict trade and allow monopolies to exist. The end result will be higher cost to sellers and a very restricted market place for buyers. Plain and simple anyone who has ever considered purchasing or selling at auction should be outraged at Kasich and the Ohio Legislature for allowing such a restrictive law to be passed.

I firmly believe in Ohio auction law and fully support the Department of Agriculture in regulating those laws. I completely and fully disagree with restrictive legislation that will do absolutely nothing to improve the industry. This law achieves one thing an one thing only, it prohibits free trade.

Attached is a copy of my letter to Representatives Hagan and Gerberry, and to State Senator Schiavoni.

Mr, Gerberry,

House Bill 114 is scheduled to become effective on June 29, 2011. I was recently made aware that HB 114 has a section pertaining to auctioneers. As an auctioneer licensed by the State of Ohio Department of Agriculture I am very concerned about the restrictive nature of this bill. The legislation contains a regulation that restricts auctioneers from conducting auctions of construction equipment. It requires that auctioneers have an auction site of over 90 acres and an auction facility of over 60,000 square feet before they can conduct auctions of construction equipment.

I am not sure why this legislation ever passed. This represents a gross inequity that will allow only a very few auctioneers to conduct auctions of such equipment. Due to its highly restrictive nature I am imploring you to seek an amendment correcting this unreasonable requirement.

The auction industry is well regulated by the Department of Agriculture when it concerns the day to day operations and consumer safety. This unfair law will allow a very select group of businessmen to control (monopolize) an important section of the industry.


David Dangerfield

Monday, June 6, 2011

Steinway, Model C

Since my last posting I have had several inquiries about the Steinway. The only one so far that is worth letting you know about is a question, "How many keys does it have?".

At first I thought that this was a stupid question, because I knew that all piano's have 88 keys. But, considering that it came from several different people and that they were all experts, I had to believe that it was a valid question. So, I did some checking and as it turns out not all Steinway's have 88 keys. Many were produced with 85 keys. I would think that someone spending a lot of money on a piano would want all 88 keys so I contacted the owners and asked if they would mind counting the number of keys on their piano.

After extensive counting and using advanced accounting methods the owners determined that the piano did in fact have 88 keys. I'm hoping that the three keys are worth an additional sum of money. Still no offers, but this can be a patient mans game.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Steinway Model C, Grand Piano

Once in a while something special shows up that needs to be sold. In this case it is a Steinway Model "C", concert grand piano. The first question that I was asked by the family was "Have you ever sold a Steinway Piano before?". It seems as though that is a perfectly reasonable question to ask. My answer, "Nope, but I can." . This may seem a little cocky to a lot of people but it is an absolutely true statement. The reality of it is I have over the years sold many expensive items, its just that none of them has been a Steinway piano.

Should they be afraid to let me sell it? No. If you do your homework, remain patient and seek out more than one opinion of value, anyone can sell just about anything. The trick is ask a lot of questions, verify the answers and negotiate. The crooked people you can weed out almost immediately. You do this by having a clue about how it really works before contacting anyone.

In most cases the Internet is the answer. It is real simple, eBay and google. First, do an eBay search. See what people are asking for similar items (remember the key word similar). Then find similar items that have actually sold. The bottom line is unless it has actually sold the asking price is nothing more that someones fantasy. Next, check google. Although most dealers do not report their final selling prices for items, they do show (most) their asking prices. Figure that most dealers are willing to discount 10-20% and offer free delivery.

So now we know what it sells for, but what will they pay? I normally figure around 50% of what they can reasonably expect as a final selling price. So, if they are asking $70,000 and will discount it for 20% and they expect to pay $2,500 to deliver it and will pay 50% of the final selling price, you should expect between $25 to 30,000 as a buying price.

Then again maybe they already have ten of the damn things and won't be interested at all! I'll let you know how it proceeds.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brass and Iron Portholes

How many of these do you see in a typical week? We had 10, $200 each!

Hyde Ships Wheel

This was one of my favorite items at the auction last Saturday, a cast iron ships wheel salvaged from a Lake Erie freightor. This item had spent the better part of 30 years as a yard decoration. It sold at auction for $450. I personally think that it was one of the bargains of the sale. It would look fantastic in a studio appartment.

WWII Nazi SS Helmet

I have performed a lot of auctions over the years. Tools, equipment, jewelry, guns and automobiles to name a few, but I have never had the response to an item like I had on this one. An authentic WWII Nazi SS Helmet. To tell the truth when I first saw the helmet I wasn't really all that impressed. I tend to look at items like this in a negative way. The history, the destruction and the Holocaust were all brought on by this group of maladjusted people. But in today's world these items now fall into the category of collectibles.

This particular helmet was well used. The helmet had multiple scratching and the emblem was quite worn, on the good side the liner was excellent and the provenance strong. My first thoughts were that the helmet would bring around $1,500. This estimate was based on nothing more than my previous experience with military items. This auction would teach me new things. I received over 30 emails and 40 phone calls. The questions ranged from "How did the owner get it?" to "What numbers are on the helmet?". I spent over 1 hour with one gentlemen on the phone detailing each and every scratch, ding and number. My initial photo's were not enough for anyone, so, a dozen new photo's were taken and placed into the ad.

The result 14 left bids, one phone bid (I refused many others because they were not even close), and multiple people in attendance at the auction for this one item. It brought a whopping $2,750 it seems that my pre-auction estimate was just a tad short. This is one of those times that the scarcity of an item can and will drive the prices far higher than normal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guns, Nazi Helmets, Military and Weapons

Tomorrow is the big day! We have been preparing for this auction and Saturdays antiques sale for over 6 weeks. This sale has plain been a lot of work. Hopefully the payoff will be there for both the sellers and myself. The truth is, you just plain never know.

This sale has some great items, a Nazi SS helmet, an army dagger from a battle of the bulge hero, great guns and greater swords and daggers. Saturday is another great auction. It is full of clocks, jewelry, sterling, furnishings and nautical items. If any of you have the time try to show up. If you don't at least take a look at the photo's and auction listing for the two days. You will see some items that just don't turn up everyday.

To see the sale listings go to www.auctionzip.com and then put in 44077 for the zip code and dangerfield as the key word. It should return the two auctions that we are holding this week. I will do some followup on the final selling prices during the next two weeks. Thanks to all of you for your patience the last couple of weeks. I hope to begin posting regularly next week ( after I sleep in for three days straight and try to rediscover my golf swing! ).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Brimfield, Mass

Last week on a whim I traveled to the antiques Mecca, of the world Brimfield, Massachusets. A long time friend of mine was making the trip and asked if I would like to go. After securing the proper permissions (wife, family, dogs) I said yes. In years past the trip to Brimfield, was a regular commitment for me. Three times a year I would pack up my Toyota pick up truck and make the 9 hour trip to sell antiques. That was over 25 years ago. It was when the speed limit was 55, I was 27 years old and antiques were both plentiful and sought after. So I was really curious to see how it had all changed.

First, It was much better organized. Back in the 80's rumors of discontent between the competing markets ran rampant. Gordon Reid was the original, everyone else also rans. It seemed at the time that none of them liked each other, today it is quite a bit different. It seems that they all figured out that they could make more money by cooperating than by fighting. Organization seemed to prevail. Everything from food to the openings of the various markets seemed to run flawlessly. This was quite a change from the past. The best of all changes was in the sanitary end. Plenty of porta johns. No, I'm not obsessed with them, in 1980 they were typically overflowing and not very clean. This time the exact opposite.

Next, the crowds. The crowds overall seemed to be about the same size, but they lacked the excitement. I can clearly remember the rush of buyers that would be at every shows opening. It would be crazy, people unloading your vehicle for you, fighting over the best antiques and not even asking for a discount because they were afraid that the person next to them would take the item. This time the buyers seemed to meander. There was very little enthusiasm and definitely no imperative buying. The truth is the buyers took their time and thought out their purchases. No fighting, no help unpacking no rush. It was busy, but no rush.

So what has happened? Is it because of the Internet? Is it moneys tight or are they just being more careful? I really don't know. I see more enthusiasm from the buyers at the local flea market. These people get excited about dollar items, Brimfield practically no excitement at all. Remember what I am comparing it to, 25 years ago people were in an antiques frenzy, today however it seems that the reproductions ruled.

And what about those reproductions. Twenty five years ago a dealer would be asked to put away any items that did not qualify as an antique, or a a minimum a very old collectible. In some cases the dealer was asked to leave if they had too many non antique items. Things have changed. I estimated that over 50% of what was being offered for sale did not come even close to being antique. Huge tents full of reproductions were present in all of the markets (to be fair several of the larger markets had not had their openings yet). I personally think that this is the main reason for the lack of enthusiasm. The buyers did not feel any of the anxiety that they had felt in years past because they felt that another item was already on the cargo ship from China. They didn't have to worry about getting one because a thousand others were at the ready.

In summary I had a great time. Despite the changes it is still something that every antiquer should see. Just like Mecca, This is a pilgrimage that you should try to make at least once in your lifetime.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Auction Food!

How bout dat! Auction food, its either the best, or worst, absolutely no in between. As an auctioneer my main goal is to get it for free. Unfortunately it does not always work out so well. So today we are talking about George.

Several years back I ran my own auction house. We tried to keep it simple, stuff for sale, easy parking, nice location and simple foods. My auction house actually had none of these. The stuff for sale was usually junk, the parking needed a security guard (we will tell the story about him in a later article), outside of the man being chased by the police while carrying a fully automatic AK47 the location was OK (another story for later) and the food.

You would have thought that Graham Kerr himself was the cook. Hot dogs, hot ssssaussauge nacho chips, soda, and some other stuff. George was our galloping gourmet. First, lets describe George. Relatively demure in stature (pot belly, stained shirt and with just a hint of alcohol) George was the epitome of an auction cook. His thinning (greasy) and receding (with some obvious scalp disease) hairline accented his well groomed (unevenly unshaven) rugged looks. His jawline was accented by a gleaming (toothless) perfect (green) smile. He wore only the finest (Goodwill) clothing. A slight but distinct speech impediment that involved the prolonged usage of the letter S completessssss thissssss dessssscripssssssion.

George came with a girlfriend named Kitty. Kitty was a benevolent type whose soft spoken manner was equal to her beloved George. Kitty would show up at each auction with an uplifting personality that could be best compared to Randel Patrick McMurphy. She could be manic, sane and serene, all at the same time. Her favorite topic, George. Kitty was always seeking advice (from anyone who would listen) about her love life. In particular she wanted someone, to explain to her why she was still with George. She would ask me, Stephanie, my children or anyone attending the auction to tell her about why she should stay. Since none of us could come up with a good reason we assumed it was because of his cooking.

His cooking was extraordinary. It was out of this world. It was without comparison. It was usually 3-4 weeks old. The food was usually brought in the night of the auction pre cooked. Now I am not really sure about where it was cooked, how it was cooked or when it was cooked. I do know that he tried to cook it. I know this because the hot dogs were always a nice charcoal color. Not the charcoal that would make you think of a nice rich black color, the charcoal that is actually charcoal. Over cooked to the point of turning to ash. The buns could not be steamed back to life. This seems to be somewhat of a contradiction since they obviously did contain life. The rich green and red spotting that was contained throughout the bottom of the bag made you think of rainbows and squirrels run over on the road.

The hot ssssausssagesss were without comparison. The only thing burnt worse that the hot dogs was the hot ssssaussagesss. The sssaussage came complete with pickled peppers and onions. The peppers and onions (still in some type of brine) were kept warm with the ssssaussage in some type of candle heated tray. We always made it a point to keep a fire extinguisher nearby just in case the candles ever became a problem. We also feared the the hot dogs and ssssaussagesss might reignite causing some type of Beverly Hills supper club incident that we really didn't want to be responsible for.

The nacho chips and cheese dip are another story that could stand on their own. The cheese was always hot. The chips always stale. This may have been caused by the storage methods employed upon completion of the auction. After the auction was completed the leftover cheese was was put with all of the other condiments into the sun filled oppressively hot storage room that we had provided to him. The open chip bag would always be set right next to the left over hot dogs so that forgetting to use them all up would be an impossible task. Some nights he would have specials. We still are not sure about what his specials really were but I suspect that it may have been the leftovers of the leftovers, mixed with some ketchup. Bona petite.

To top it all off they had a helper. Not hamburger helper like most auction food people use, but an assistant. When the helper showed up it his shirt would be partially tucked in shirt, with the tail protruding from his zipper, the standard greasy hair and a very distinct smell. This smell was one that if captured and bottled for sale as a perfume would have to include the words "boozncheapcigsnobath" in the title. A truly rare scent that can only be reproduced in the finest bridge trusses in the world.

Like I said earlier, auction food is either the best or worst with no in between. George was one of the best. Some day I'll tell you about the worst. For the time being keep on eating those weenies.

Friday, April 29, 2011

On Conducting an Auction

Part 4, Tempus Fugit

It already seems an eternity ago that this auction transaction started. Four weeks ago the first call, three weeks ago the first visit, two weeks ago the contract, one week ago the first meeting. I am sure that as quickly as last four weeks have passed, next three weeks leading up to the actual auction date will go even faster. Tempus Fugit.

The second trip that I made was a continuatin of the first. It was another day of sorting and preparing the auction ad, This trip I made by myself. Stephanie needed a break and this day would be a long monotonous one. After the initial excitement has worn off the work really begins and this day was going to be spent digging through mounds of just about anything.

Before leaving home I performed all of the madatory double checks to ensure that I had everything that I would need for the day; pens, paper, camera, boxes, flashlight, loop (magnifying eyeglass) and tags, I had them all. Feeling good about myself I hit the road. Since the long drive gives you a lot of time to think things through my plan was to review the steps necessary to complete the auction. My first major thought had nothing to do with the auction. I knew that something was wrong, but what could I have possibly forgotten? Then it hit me, I immediately turned around to go back home, it seems that I had forgotten my wallet and since OPEC keeps us on a short (and expensive) energy leash, going back home would have to be my first stop.

After the sidebar, once again, off I went. Upon arriving the search really began in earnest. For 9 straight hours, no lunch, no bathroom not even a drink of water, I worked. I looked in every single box, every drawer and every cobweb covered corner. I took over 100 photo's and filled 15 pages in a notebook. I detailed each item that I came across. Overkill? Maybe, but I firmly believe that it is my job to at least look at each item at least once before I sell it. The worst possible thing that I could do for my consignors is to be lazy and do incomplete work. It does not guarantee results, but it does guarantee that they will get the best effort that I have.

The amazing thing is I never realized how much time I had spent looking that day. In the early evening the owners looked at me and said "You know that you said you would be leaving over 2 hours ago.". Now I'm no genius but I can take a hint. Then the phone rang, "Where are you?", Stephanie asked. The second hint really hit home, which is where I should have been, so I packed my bags, said my goodbyes and into the sunset I went.

Tempus Fugit, time flies (flees) is a Latin term that is often engraved on grandfather clocks. Sometimes a little noticed an often misapplied term comes into play in life. As a kid growing up in Youngstown time seemed pass like a lazy river, as an adult it passes with a fury and as an auctioneer on this day it passed unnoticed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Conducting an Auction

Part 3

Now the really hard work begins. For anyone out there who has ever tried to sort through a household, we salute you. The morning started around 9:30 am. The owners were waiting at the door for our arrival. After the typical good mornings, the question "So where do we start and what can we do to help?". Stephanie who had made the trip with me glanced over to hear what my answer would be. Of course she already knew what it was, "I don't know." was my response.

"I don't know." I am sure that this type of response is just what the consignors want to hear. I am going to work on my answers, but the reality is when you first go in to a home you really don't know where to start. I started with a 10 minute tour. After the tour, Stephanie and I decided to start with the guns, weapons and military items.

Nine hours it took. We had to find, describe, photograph, tag and sort every piece of military that we could find. We found items in closets, cabinets, drawers and boxes. Although the owners were able to help us in the search it was still a daunting task. Items that they thought were valuable, were not. Items that they thought were junk, were priceless. We took over 100 photo's. We wrote over 300 descriptions. We tagged 90 items.

After nine hours. The first room was done. Six rooms, a basement and garage were all that remained.