Going Once… Going Twice… Sold!
By: Cathy Droz
Thank you Allison and Partners Public Relations firm for the invitation to my first non- car auction this past week. You felt my coverage for the media would be educational, you didn’t tell me how entertaining it would be.
As an automotive journalist, who has test- driven over 500 cars, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve attended and written about the Barrett Jackson, Russo Steele and RM car auctions for years, but this one involved leather, jewelry and a particular pair of shoes. I had now entered a new world of auctions; sort of a live e-bay in my neighborhood that is called the American Auction Company.
Upon arrival at an upscale Scottsdale restaurant, I was greeted by a team of American Auction Company employees. Most wore crisp blue shirts with their names showing, as well as that of the company. My greeting was friendly and professional as they quickly found my name on the guest list. I was presented with an array of literature and a gift card to be used either on line or in person towards any of my auction purchases.
This is the perfect venue to get your feet wet if it is your first time at an auction. I received a schedule of future American Auction Company events, with dates and locations for specific “needs” including home goods, police confiscated property, dolls, autos, boats etc. You are welcome to attend the American Auction Company at their 10 ½ acre home office in Phoenix on Watkins Street or visit one of their other locations in San Diego, London and Shanghai, China. However, their most popular auctions are the live ones scheduled around the valley. Ours was called “Ladies Night” and it was held at a Scottsdale restaurant.
I also received a “New Bids on the Block” (get it, New Kids, New Bids?) pamphlet for the new bidders like myself. This perfectly laid out, easy to read, tri-fold, speaks volumes to how the bidding works online or in person. Not to mention, there were so many friendly employees at the event that you could just tap one on the shoulder and ask what to do next. Customer service was above and beyond.
The most exciting part for me, since I’m not a regular Sotheby’s or Christies attendee, was I was given a paddle to use for bidding, yes a paddle …number 45. It was now time to grab a glass of wine and move on to the tables with the all-new merchandise neatly displayed. There were purses and wallets and a pair of Christian Louboutin high heels. I ogled Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo ,Gucci, Burberry and Prada. There were fine jewelry necklaces, bracelets and rings. All of the items came with proof of authenticity and the original boxes. This was different for me, as I own a few knock-off purses that I negotiated for on the streets of New York, and the only thing authentic, was the vendor’s accent and the NY police officers chasing them.
Next enters the auctioneer and the Vice President of AmericanAuctionCo, Jason Spancill. He made some quick announcements, joked with the ladies and then did his thing. You know, do I hear ten, twenty, forty etc. The next unique character was the ring woman or ring person. She was an attractive woman who pointed to the people bidding and looked you straight in your eyes. She made some very interesting noises when you bid much like a grunt with a whistle but I’m told she is saying “yep” with a lot of pep in her delivery. Let me say this, it got your attention and kept you engaged. She was fantastic at keeping it going and played well off of Jason.
A $1,500 Fendi bag started bidding at $10.00 and then jumped in to the hundreds but stopped at $500.00. All of a sudden no one held up their paddle, there was silence and Jason’s voice yelled “SOLD to #25 for $500.00.” The women around me started whispering about how inexpensive that was and what a great deal #25 just got. The rest of the evening went the same way. Finally, I wanted to bid and raise my paddle and take home the Christian Louboutin Paris black leather open toe pumps. They were a size 9 but it didn’t matter, the bottoms were red and my company’s signature colors are red and black and I wanted them for office décor. Now I understand that these particular heels go for about $875.00 but I was hoping to snag them for $50.00. It just goes to show, I didn’t do my homework. Bidding started at $10.00 but that wen t up quickly and finally I quit at $100.00, with the heels eventually selling for $145.00.
I also noticed that most of the bidding and buying was at a table to my left. Three very attractive people in their 40’s (paddle #25) who seemed to know exactly what they wanted and how much they would spend. Speculation by me and other folks who were also first time bidders was that they were buying all of these items and would be re-selling them. I decided to find out for myself and ask them.
When I interviewed the three I found it fascinating. The woman doing the bidding had never done this before but went online at www.americanauctionco.com to see what would be on the block and learn what to do. She was a well-dressed woman with obvious fine taste and flare for fashion. I suggested she might have a store somewhere to re-sell the items. She said absolutely not… I went on line, looked at what was going to be auctioned off, found out how to bid and what the items sell for retail and took it from there. I called my girlfriends up, told them what was going on and asked if they were interested in any of the merchandise. They said yes and gave me a cap amount that they would pay. This young lady paid for all her merchandise in cash and attached her friend’s names to the boxes. I asked her… what will you do with the size 9 heels and she said Oh! My girlfriend bought those and she is a size 9. What are the chances her friend wore that size? She knew how to tell if the purses and wallets were fake or not and went into great detail about how to distinguish the differences as my eyes glazed over. You see, I was very proud of my Anne Klein, red wallet that I got at Bealls this spring on Senior Day, not knowing that the world of designer goods is much more complex than snagging a single item at 25% off.
My friend Cindy bought her daughter a Fendi business card holder for $120.00… She said they go for $500. According to the men and women at the event who purchased items, they left with fantastic value and were asking when the next local event is scheduled. It was now time to turn in your paddle, but I asked if I might keep it and have Jason autograph it. I figured I may never attend one again until I hit it big and can bring a bag of cash and buy everything at a great price and gift them to friends and family. The one thing I will treat myself to is a pair of Louboutins in red, size 7 to wear, not display.
American Auction Company – Since 1995
Owned and Operated by: Deb Weidenhamer
For more information go to www.americanauctionco.com
Visit their Facility:
951 W. Watkins Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Photos: Cathy Droz