I don’t know if other areas are like the guild chapters in our area, but over the years we have all held stash sales and, most importantly, guild auctions. On Saturday I attend the auction from the Mount Tam Canvas Workers, the ANG chapter in Marin County. They hold their auction every two years and collect items for it all the time. They advertise it heavily to other Northern California guilds and it draws people from more than 2 hours away.
I love it because not only do I find amazing things at great prices, I see old friends and just have a great time.
Auctions like this, as I have said before, are one of the best ways to increase your stash. They are even better if you are on a budget. At this auction there were free frames and project bags, floss skeins at a dime each, tons of other threads, canvases, charted needlepoint, stands, and even a mat cutter in its box.
You can see most of what I bought in the pictures. Now I want to stitch it all! If you are looking for a great way to raise money for your guild consider and auction.
The Parts of the Auction
Our local auctions are divided into three parts: silent auction, live auction, and fixed price.
Live Auction: The biggest, best, and/or most in-demand items are reserved for the love auction. Generally these are more expensive pieces and their are relatively few of them.
For each item, or lot, a starting price is determined, usually a percentage of the retail price. The auctioneer and her helpers hold up the item, say the starting price and ask for bids. Folks that are interested raise their paddles or cards and the auctioneer recognizes them.
The price goes up with each bid until there is only one bidder left. That person wins the lot for the current price.
Silent Auction: These lots are grouped together and are open for bidding when the doors open. Each item has a sheet on it. The sheet identifies the item and gives a minimum bid. Under that are a bunch of lines. Each person interested in the item writes down his name or number and the price he would like to pay for the item. Bidding continues until that auction closes.
Depending on the event, silent auctions can end all at once or a bit at a time. Usually it is announced when there is a short amount of time before the auction closes. That’s when you hover around to increase the bids, if needed, on items you want. When the auction closes, the person with the highest bid wins the auction for the amount bid. Take your items with you, rip off the papers and give them to the people ringing you up.
Fixed Price: In our auctions the majority of stuff these days is fixed price. We roughly divide this area into four groups: canvases, books & charts, threads, and everything else. Each item has a specified price. For things other than threads, it’s marked on the item. For threads it’s marked on a bin.
You pick up the items you want and they are tallied when you check out.
How to Shop an Auction
- Bring cash or a checkbook. Guilds don’t accept credit cards.
- Set a realistic budget and stick to it. It’s far too easy to get auction fever, especially in the live auction, and overspend.
- Know what you need and want. For example I know I have tons of thread, so I picked up relatively little. I know I need small finishing items, so I bought everything they had. I don’t need baby presents so I left and adorable Baby’s Sleeping canvas for someone else.
- If bags of threads are stapled closed, don’t open them. They are grouped that way for a reason.
- If the price tag is missing, ask the price.
Behind the Scenes
Auctions can be big money-makers for guild chapters but they are lots of work. Many people need to be involved. If you will be having auctions regularly, invest in tools and use them in each auction.
Many people will be involved, especially on Auction Day.
Before the auction you will need:
- A person to collect and store items; make sure it’s someone with plenty of space that’s dry and safe.
- A committee to price items and determine what goes in the live & silent auctions. This can usually be done in one or more meetings
- A person to prepare the items and lots by making sure everything is together, that things are bagged that need to be and that canvases are in good condition.
- People to solicit donations and to publicize the auction.
Just prior to the auction, you’ll need:
- Someone to get and prepare auction items: paddles, silent auction sheets, etc.
- Someone to get change and stock the cash box.
- People to make signs,staple bags, and put on price tags.
On Auction Day you’ll need:
- Registration/cashiers: Sign in bidders & give them paddles & check out people as they finish shopping.
- Auctioneer, helpers & spotters: The auctioneer controls the live auction, the helpers help display the lots, and the spotters stand and point to bidders during the auction.
- A manager to make deals, assign prices, and solve conflicts.This person should be the ultimate authority.
- Set-up and tear-down: These people set up the tables and signs and take everything down when the auction is over. Be sure to know where unsold items will go and assign someone to do this.
Many folks on the Auction Committee will perform multiple tasks. But it takes many hands to make an Auction a success!
A great auction is fun for everyone involved and can be managed by even small chapters as long as you have items to sell. It’s been the best way to increase my stash & library over the years!