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Farmhouse Window: Auctions not only are a big part of the rural community, but also can be an emotional experience.

Carol Ann Gregg

July 8, 2021

3 Min Read
blocks spelling out "auction" with gavel in background
AUCTIONS ARE BACK: The pandemic sidelined many auctioneers. Now with things opening back up, auctioneers are busier than ever, and people are clamoring for their services. AndreyPopov/Getty Images

I have never been a frequent attendee of auctions. In fact, I was always afraid that I would end up unwittingly bidding on something.

Over the past several years, however, I have had the opportunity to visit with a variety of auctioneers. Their entrepreneurial spirit is contagious. Regardless of their specialty, they have cut out a niche to serve their customers.

No two auctioneers are the same. Some are members of multi-generational family businesses; others share their talents and training from time to time as the community needs their services.

In 2020, many auctioneers took a hit to their businesses, even though livestock auctions continued to serve the agricultural community. When some restrictions eased in May 2020, auctioneers were able to conduct sales outside, though some people were still hesitant to attend large events.

Farm owners and homeowners who were contemplating an auction were not anxious to have the public on their property either.

Now, more than a year later, the floodgates have opened. Auctioneers are swamped. Customers must be patient for any openings in auctioneers’ schedules.

Lots of prep involved

Much work takes place before an auction is held. Sorting, displaying and prepping for the auction takes time.

Several auctioneers in my area are finding that using public venues helps families who would rather not have a sale at their home, regardless of the reason.

Some sales are filled with anticipation, like fair youth livestock sales or 4-H events. Though many children find this the hardest part of having a livestock project, they learn that selling their project is part of the deal.

Sign of transition

For others, an auction is a transition into the next phase of their lives. These auctions are really tough ones.

I recently attended two auctions for people who were moving into some sort of assisted living arrangement. At one auction, most of the furniture was already gone, and many of the things that were displayed around the yard were the remnants of what had been left in drawers, closets, the garage and a garden shed.

To the untrained eye, it appeared to be junk. But, as is often the case, one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. Many of the buyers were regular customers of this auctioneer. These buyers were able to decipher what was of value in the bottom of a box.

What was sad to me was that the elderly homeowner was sitting there, watching her life be sold for what, I’m sure, seemed to her to be pennies.

A few weeks later the children of our neighbors had an auction. Their parents had moved into an assisted living facility, and they were preparing to sell the house. At this auction, the daughter recommended to her dad that he not attend the sale.

This was a wise move. The couple had traveled extensively. Many of their things would have held many precious memories that had sentimental value but not necessarily monetary value to the buyers.

Watching as the paintings from their walls and the mementos from their travels were sold was painful. Sets of pots and pans, and the contents of the kitchen cupboards were purchased for reuse in another home.

Time marches on. Soon the house will be put on the market, and new owners will bring life back to this corner of our neighborhood.

We are watching as young people are moving onto our road, changing the demographics. Instead of being the young folks in the neighborhood, we are the older generation. I guess we earned that title since we now have great-grandchildren.

Gregg writes from western Pennsylvania. She is the Pennsylvania 2019 Outstanding Woman in Agriculture and is a past president of American Agri-Women.



About the Author(s)

Carol Ann Gregg

Carol Ann Gregg writes from western Pennsylvania. She is the Pennsylvania 2019 Outstanding Woman in Agriculture and is a past president of American Agri-Women.

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