Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Auctioneering Skills

My husband and I have bought and sold a whole lot of cattle in our marriage.  They know my husband on a first name basis at the sale barn. We nearly always bring in the highest prices of the sale for our cattle because we raise good quality stock.  I love auctions, but I have a really difficult time seeing some of our cattle go through the sale ring after years of bonding with them in the pasture. My husband, on the other hand, loves to watch our stock go through the ring.  There's just something exciting about the whole thing.  The cattle moving in the ring, the auctioneer talking in a fast, rhythmic manner....almost a chant at times.  I love to watch the buyers too.  Each has his own bidding mannerisms: a head flick, a nod, a point with the lips, a raise of the chin, or the lifting of an index finger.  But the thing I love most is the big ole' FAT check we get when it's all said and done.

Knowing that my husband has knowledge of the auction process, and knowing that he's kind of a hoot to listen to, some people at church approached him about acting as this year's auctioneer at our annual church picnic.  He hesitatingly said OK.  That's when things started getting a little weird around here.  First my husband googled "auctioneering" and then watched no less than 10 you tube videos on how to develop your own auctioneering style.  I had no idea there were auctioneering "how- to" videos, but after hearing 10 of them in my kitchen, I think I'm an expert.  I kind of chuckled at the beginning of this whole ordeal but then I got a little worried when I saw my husband talking to himself out in the backyard. 
 "What are you doing?" I asked him. 
"Practicing" he said, matter of factly. 
"Practicing what?" I asked. 
"I'm working on my auctioneer chant and rhythm" he said.

So I went back into the house and hoped this was all a little phase.  But then he really scared me.

"There's an auctioneering video on Amazon for $59.99....do you think I should buy it?" he asked.
"What?!!! Are you out of your mind?!! You're taking this church auction FAR too seriously."
"I think I discovered that I like auctioneering.  I may want to make it a hobby some day."

I rolled my eyes and hoped that it would pass.  Then the auction day came.  The problem is...this was not a livestock auction.  This was an auction for stuff that little old ladies in our church made, and the proceeds were for children's camp.  My husband does not know the first thing about crocheted blankets, embroidered pillows, and homemade bird feeders.  He knows prices for all types of cattle: feeder steers, fancy heifers, cull cows and three stripers.  He knows nothing about the value of knitted sweaters, latch hook rugs, and strawberry rhubarb pies.  How does a man who has never made a craft in his life, place a value on someones hand made treasure?  The poor guy was completely out of his element, but you couldn't tell it by looking at him!
He kept the crowd heavily entertained, and squeezed every dime out of them to help the cause.

This was the funniest thing he sold.  This big burly cowboy held up a stuffed bear with a handmade dress and headband, and attempted to keep a straight face.  Where do you even start the bidding for something like this?  You've definitely got to have the right buyer for these things.  He did a fine job though, and sold it for a large profit.  He had the old ladies cracking up, and trying to out bid their friends.  If someone scratched their nose he would count it as a bid.  I tried hard not to even blink! 
He started to break a sweat when an elderly lady came up to him with two "Swedish Embroidered" pillows.  He didn't know what in the world "Swedish Embroidery" even was, or if he should sell the pillows separately or as a set.   Evidently no one in the audience knew what it was either. But he made the sale anyway. Apparently, this type of embroidery is a "big deal". He got through the entire auction, and had the crowd pulling out their checkbooks in the end. I guess the you tube videos did turn out to be beneficial in the end.  All in all, it was a success, but I think craft items are a tough sell for a first time cowboy auctioneer.  I'm pretty sure he'd like to stick to four legged livestock in the future or perhaps he'll just forget about the whole thing in a few weeks, and life can go back to normal around here.

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