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Chasing bargains at auctions … or chasing my tail?Chasing bargains at auctions … or chasing my tail?

Front Porch: You gotta love auctions, bargain or not!

Tom J. Bechman

September 8, 2023

3 Min Read
A close-up of a plastic bag sitting on top of an air compressor
BARGAIN? STILL DECIDING: Perhaps I bid on this air compressor in haste. Once I added the air hose that I had to buy at the store, the “bargain” was just shy in price of a new one. Tom J. Bechman

I have loved going to auctions since I was a little kid. The chant of a good auctioneer gets my blood pumping. Today, however, it’s usually the ding of the computer telling me I got outbid. Maybe it’s more efficient, but it’s not the same.

That’s why I was excited to go to the local estate auction of a good farmer recently. I was interested in a major item, but I am always on the lookout for bargains. And I needed a new air compressor — maybe there would be one there.

Sure enough, as soon as I arrived and about 10 minutes after the auction started, I saw a pancake-style air compressor sitting in line near the auctioneer. Darn! He was moving the wrong direction; it was already sold.

“What did that compressor bring?” I asked a neighbor whom I recognized.

“Oh, $25, I think,” he replied.

That figures. I would have given considerably more. Typical of my luck.

The major item I wanted to see was only about 45 minutes from selling, so I decided to stay with the auctioneer as he sold several lines of items from the shop and shed. The long-handled tools caught my eye.

There was a like-new post-hole digger with wood handles. I bid $10 and got it — now that is a bargain! Then for $5 each, I got a good spade and short-handled shovel. Maybe it was my lucky day.

The auctioneer moved on. I wasn’t so lucky on the log chain. I let someone else take it home. Then, suddenly, something caught my eye. No, it couldn’t be! It was a portable, drag-along air compressor, like new and exactly what I wanted.

Moment of truth

The auctioneer was almost to it. I didn’t have time to give it a second look or think. I just bid and bid and bid again. For $90, it was mine.

Soon after that, the big item came up for sale. No bargain there. It started at the top bid I was willing to pay … and doubled after that.

So, I paid for my air compressor and started loading it. That’s when I realized it didn’t have an air hose. I checked it over. No secret compartment — it just wasn’t there. There were two shiny receptacles to plug it in, but no hose. Ah, so that’s why the other guy quit bidding.

Instead of going home, I went to a local farm store to buy an air hose. But I also had to buy connectors for both ends and an air chuck. The farm store had what I needed, and it even had a new compressor, just like mine, in a box with a warranty.

I totaled up where I was on my bargain so far. Let’s see, $90 bid price plus 10% buyer’s premium — I still don’t get that one — plus $28 for an air hose and connections. Hmm, my “bargain” was now only about $35 cheaper than buying new.

Hey, that’s OK. I really like the neighbor’s family. Yes, I will go back to another auction. My wife, Carla, says maybe I ought to put on my glasses before I bid next time!

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman is editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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