Live In-store Auctions Appeal to Deal Hunters

by Maritime

Those who shop at Thrift Stores know that it’s all about the find. With new items arriving daily, and the massive turnover of product, sometimes scoring that perfect piece of clothing or household item is down to timing.

WEB1On one particular day, this is even more true: auction day. Many Salvation Army Thrift Stores around the country hold live, in-store auctions as a way of bringing people into the stores, and getting maximum value from some high quality donations.

By no means a new idea, auctions have been taking place in the greater Halifax area for about four or five years now, according to district manager Barb Warren.

Here’s how it works. Interesting items are placed in display cases leading up to the auction to generate some buzz in advance. Up until auction day, the event is often run like a silent auction with people making bids on items they like. On auction day, the bidding begins at the highest silent auction bid. If no further bids are received, the silent auction high bid takes the item. Otherwise, it walks out the door with its new owner.

A Halifax location offers auctions once a month. A recent auction, saw a dozen people take part at different points of the event.

Using a wooden spoon from the kitchen section as a gavel, and a small step stool as a perch, store worker Jenna served as the auctioneer for the afternoon. Assisted by a colleague, Jenna rattled through 42 items on this Saturday, parading them in front of the people gathered.

WEB2Items up for grabs vary wildly. From antiques to high quality items to the slightly bizarre, if it’s perceived as eye-catching it has been set aside to today. On this day, the items ranged from a professional set of German-made kitchen knives (complete with a combination lock briefcase to store them in), to a Pearl Harbour commemorative coin, art work, a vintage suit, binoculars, commemorative plates, a book about the life and times of JFK and more.

Ninety minutes later, everything has sold. About three-quarters of the items went to silent auction bidders, the rest finding a new home among the audience.

Making the sales is only part of the benefit for the Thrift Store. Having people come in for the auction, or come in early to make a silent auction bid, helps drive more traffic to the store.

“Whatever reason that we can use to get people into the store is a great thing,” Warren says. “Generally, people will shop while they’re waiting for the auction to begin.

“It’s not just about winning the auction either, these really do help create a sense of community in the store. Some of the people that come are dealers, and the rest are community people who meet friends at the store and make an event of it.”

WEB3Warren admits that reality TVs recent obsession with auction lifestyle has done nothing but increase the interest in their auctions. More than anything, however, the auctions ensure that an item that someone took the time to donate to The Salvation Army generates the highest possible funds for the work that The Salvation Army is doing in the community.

“I think the auctions are an example to donors that we’re really making good use of the objects that they’ve donated to us, and that we’re really trying to honour their donation,” Warren says.

“I remember a teddy bear coming with a note that said, ‘I was well loved, please take good care of me, I hope you make lots of money from me and somebody loves me as much as I was loved by my owner.’ We had another lady who donated two or three platters for us and she had already looked up their value for us for the auction.”

One thing is for certain, auctions aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

“As long as people are interested in coming to auctions, we’re going to be having them,” Warren says.

For a list of upcoming auctions at HRM Thrift Stores CLICK HERE to visit our Thrift Store website. Many other Salvation Army Thrift Stores hold auctions as well. Please check with your local Thrift Store to see if they do.