Auction Etiquette & Tips

I just spent the day at a neighbor’s farm auction and came home with a van load of bargains.

We’ve really enjoy auctions! (Actually one of our very first dates was at an auction. I encouraged my husband -only then we were just dating- to purchase a picnic table that I helped him to restore. We are still using it seventeen plus years later!)

Over the years we have learned the hard way how to make sure that we get a good deal. Here’s a few hints:

  • If possible, know retail price on an item before bidding. You don’t want to spend $65 for a used microwave when you can pick up a new one for $50.
  • Get there early so you can look over the merchandise carefully. Check it over well. We once bought a large wheeled water tank and even made a special trip to pull it home, only to discover when we used it the first time that the bottom had rusted through. Not good.
  • Check out the boxes well before bidding and know which ones you are interested in. Try to go all the way to the bottom of the box, you never know what you might find!
  • Pay attention to what’s going on! I once bought a rotting wooden chest because I wasn’t following closely enough and thought I was bidding on something else.
  • It’s better to not jump in on the bid right away. If the auctioneer doesn’t get an opening bid, they will lower it.
  • Know your limits and stick to them. It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement and overbid.
  • Come prepared to bring your items home. We’ve had to pass up some sweet deals because we didn’t have a way to get them home. Smart auction attenders bring their pick-up and/or trailers with them or at least have their cars cleaned out and ready.
  • Buy what you need or have a place for. if you don’t need something, it doesn’t matter how cheap it is, you are wasting your money to buy it. (Unless of course, you can resell it on eBay…)
  • Carry food or water (if allowed) with you because the concessions at auctions are quite over-priced.
  • Stick around for the bargain boxes! As the auction winds down and the crowd thins, many auctioneers will pile boxes together for one bid. Pick out the items you need or want and donate or throw away the rest.  (I’ve gotten some great kitchen things this way! The pots and pans I don’t want go out to the sand box and the playhouse for the kids to use.)
  • Have fun! There’s something exciting about an auction that gets in your blood!

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