Monday, October 12, 2015

The auction

So last night I participated in my first-ever online auction, sponsored by a local auction house in the next town over. I've been trolling these auctions for a few months now, hanging out both online as well as in the actual shadows of the in-person one, watching how things go down and seeing what kind of deals were available. In other words; learning. I'm one of those people who needs to know what they're doing before actually doing it, especially where any money is involved. 

There is a time and a place for spontaneity, but for me it's usually not when I'm holding my checkbook. And just like at the casino, an auction is a great place to lose a lot of money quickly if you're not careful. 

(Disclaimer: Sigh. Okay. I'll tell you right now that my spontaneity comment above is basically bullshit, because in the end, while I held to the spirit of my rule, I didn't hold to the law of it. Funny how that happens. I initially set my high-end limit at a couple hundred bucks. And realized about halfway through the auction that I hadn't budgeted nearly enough. I just wasn't realistic. So I raised my limit again to double the initial budget, and came in handsomely on the mark.) 

In the end I got several pieces, which together will comprise an actual library in our house. You see, when we moved to this property, we inherited a large room in the front of the house that was probably supposed to be a formal living room. But as we had no use for that, and no furniture to turn it into one, instead we called it our library. Our file cabinets, bookcases, reading chair and desk are all in here. But all those things once resided in different rooms of our previous house, so nothing matches. So for a long time I I was also fond of calling it "the un-loved room," because that's how it looks. Then I saw the items I needed on the auction block and decided to go for it.

In the end I spent more than I wanted, but still got a good deal. By the end of today or tomorrow we will actually have library furniture to go with the idea of that room being our library now. I also get the good feeling of knowing I am re-using estate furniture instead of buying new. Anytime you can do this and still get what you want, it's a good thing. New furniture isn't the most eco-friendly option for things, although with things like beds, chairs and sofas, I get why new is best. So I can give myself some eco-brownie points, although honestly budget was as much a concern as anything else. I was just very lucky to happen to have gotten an extra large check from work last week and so the money was already there, and luckily, not earmarked for anything else.

So before actually starting the bidding process, I did a little homework. In online bidding, it turns, out, there are apparently two types of bidders. One is the squatter, who lands on the piece she wants and quickly outbids anyone who ventures into her territory. And there is the sniper, who waits until the last minute and then tries to unseat the up-until-now winning bidder.

There's a lot of different opinions about who ultimately saves more money, the squatter or the sniper. But at this point I'd tend to say the latter. And last night I did a little of both. Without boring you with a whole play-by-play of the process, there were a couple of items I squatted on and won easily, and one item where I feigned disinterest until the last minute of the auction and then became a sniper and snatched it up quickly. And of course there was one other item -- the one I needed most, sadly, where I faced a bidding war. So that jumped in price, although it was still bought at roughly 10 percent of what I'd have paid for it new (and it is in mint condition).

And so now it's all done except the pick-up. Sometime today and tomorrow, we'll get the front room ready (now really, almost a real library room!) and pick up our winning bid items. I'm excited to see how it all looks when its done, and will post some pics soon.

And now I have a new Moniker: Hot Flash Homestead -- Auction Sniper and occasional Steely-eyed Squatter.


  1. I wouldn't call it bullshit! You were learning as you went and sometimes we all need to admit to ourselves what things *really* cost, even when we want them to reeeeally cost less! How fun! I love auctions. I guess that's obvious :) I work in a combination method like you. Generally my tactic is squat on generic things where you see them and think "I could always catch the next one", and then I'm a last 30 seconds sniper on very unique or special items. I did a lot of squat buying recently on eBay and got some incredible deals!

    1. I admire your courage and nerve to do this and call it "fun!" Really, I was so stressed about the possibility of not getting the items I wanted at the price I wanted I was up doing jumping jacks as I watched the computer the last 10 minutes of the auction! Perhaps next time I'll be a little more relaxed...I'm hoping to replace our dining room table and chairs next time. Hopefully without cardiac arrest lol.

    2. Haha be careful, it gets much easier! But I usually buy small, tabletop stuff. Furniture and light fixtures are much, much more nerve wracking. Especially when it's something you've been watching and waiting for. So happy how well this all worked out for you!