My wife and I recently spent two back-to-back nights at charity events with live auctions. Now, I must admit, this is a new experience for us as we tend to be too frugal (read “cheap” here) to participate in a live auction. However, I've recently been watching a few reality shows based on auctions and therefore, I now consider myself an expert in this area and believe that I can get an excellent deal while supporting a good cause (of course).
The first night we scouted out the potential items up for auction and spied what we believed we could get for a good deal — five nights in a cabin in the mountains. We waited patiently for our item to make it to the auction block. However, my lovely (and pregnant) wife eventually couldn't wait any longer and went to powder her nose, only to have our item come up for auction almost immediately after she left the room. The bidding started low and this built my confidence as I threw out a starting bid. A so-called friend jumped my bid and I countered. He bid $25 more. I bid $25 more. He bid $25 more. I bid $25. Everyone else in the room watched. What were we doing?
My friend must have felt the pressure of the increasing prices as his next bid was an increase of only $5. As the price went up, our bids grew smaller.
"I bid $405!"
"I bid $405.25!"
Finally, a gentleman in the back of the room who presumably grew bored of our amateur auction tactics jumped our bid by about $50 leaving us scratching our heads, looking at one another solemnly and shrugging our shoulders. We were out. The guy in the back stole the cabin and my wife, of course, returned and asked, "What happened?"
I just turned and said, “What happened? Where were you?”
The second auction, we felt more confident. We found an item we both loved, a custom-painted toy box for the kids and started to formulate a plan. We took our seats and set our top dollar bid at $100. After we looked at the toy box a bit longer, we realized that this was truly a piece of art and adjusted our top dollar bid to $200. After watching the bidding on several other items, my wife made the prediction that there was no way this beautiful box would go for only $200, so we made one last adjustment to our top bid and said we’d go no higher than $300. So, without a single bid being tossed out, we had already tripled our top bid. We were effectively bidding against ourselves. I’d like to pause here and share some wisdom with you. One lesson I have learned is that a key element to success in auctions is to set a limit and not go over it.
We felt we had a good strategy and we were excited when the toy box finally made it to the auction block. This was to be followed by crushing disappointment when the auctioneer said, “We’ll start the bidding at $275!”
Still inside my limit, I immediately raised the paddle. The feeling of power, energy and excitement that surged through my body was indescribable. Immediately, my bid was beaten with a bid of $300. We were out. But that power felt so good, the adrenaline was flowing through my veins and before I knew it, my paddle was raised again ... then again ... then one more time and suddenly I saw the auctioneer pointing at us yelling, "SOLD!"
I turned to my wife, “What happened? Where were you?"
Yes, we are professional auction hunters.
(Editor’s Note: Matt has a family of six — a beautiful, pregnant wife, a son, a daughter and of course, Tucker and Boomer, the family dogs. Ultimately, the Ryersons love the new toy box and they only paid four times their original limit. Matt’s column appears on Wednesdays in the Cleveland Daily Banner.)