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How To Have An Awesome Auction Experience

08/07/2013 06:36 EDT | Updated 10/07/2013 05:12 EDT

Nestled in the downtown core between City Hall and East Village is an auction house called Rick's Auction Galleries. It has become of my favourite places to be on Wednesday evenings. I stumbled upon Rick's just over a year ago when I was killing time between events in the core. The large red, "Auction Today" sign displayed on the sidewalk is impossible to miss. This location's days are numbered as it will be torn down soon and moved into the Northeast near the Calgary Herald building.

Ever since I was a small boy I remember visiting many flea markets and antique dealers throughout my life. I've always gotten a kick out of seeing the unique, the strange and practical things that people like to buy and sell. I grew up in a house that always had slightly used things and have had parents that appreciate the history stored in objects. Collecting has always seemed like an urban treasure hunt.

Auction items at Rick's Auction Galleries

Nowadays collecting has become popularized with reality television shows like Auction Kings, Canadian Pickers, and Antique Roadshow which is the holy grail for hobbyists. It's easy to become lost in the excitement of finding items which make the home, yard or business a more interesting place. Learning about the history of objects makes acquiring them even more tantalizing. Everyone loves a great story as much as they like great stuff.

The following is a few tips that I have to share about how to gain the most enjoyment out of scoring a deal at Rick's Auction Galleries.

  1. Arrive early. Rick's opens in the morning before the auction. You are going to want to see what is going to hit the block before you bid. This will give you an opportunity to decide on what you like and what it's worth. Those that arrive on time or during the auction run the risk of an impulse buy. I speak from experience as I've bought a few things for more than they are worth and don't really care for. For those that can't stay for the auction there is an absentee bidders form. Simply fill out form with the maximum price you would like to pay for a particular item and the auctioneer will bid on your behalf up to the maximum.
  2. Be aware of the auction fee. As of writing this the fee at Rick's is 12%. That means that if you buy something for $100 it really costs you $112. This may seem like a very small amount, and it is, but as you bid for multiple items the fee climbs.
  3. Bring a vehicle if necessary. You have to remove the items within 24 hours of the auction. Often it's easier to come prepared during the auction than planning on removing the items the following day. You might as well start enjoying your plunder that very evening!
  4. Understand the overall theme of the auction. There are a few different types. Antique auctions often fetch higher prices than estate auctions. Just need a nice couch for a cheap price? Maybe the estate auction is your best bet.
  5. Look at boxed lots. These are boxes containing a variety of things. I once saw a box of old tourism pendants fetch over $50. After the bidding had concluded I approached the buyer and offered $5 for the pendant that I liked. I once bought a box of collectable drinking glasses and was approached about one of the glasses. Sometimes you don't need to take the whole thing.
  6. The value of something is often what you're willing to pay for it. From time to time I've paid more than something is worth on the market because I can't easily get it somewhere else or it's not worth my time hunting for it elsewhere.
  7. Have fun! Many people go to auctions for different reasons. Foremost in my mind is always the plan to enjoy myself whether or not I buy something. Sometimes seeing what people bid on and what they're willing to pay is a valuable lesson in itself. Why else would there be popular television shows on this subject?

I hope that this short blog post has been helpful. If you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to hit me up on Twitter or comment below.