The Weekenders: Saturday Evening Auction Action

  |  November 2, 2012

The secretary that we got for $14 at Robert’s Auction

I hope that everyone made it through the storm or is on the way to getting back to normal.  We had it easy upstate with this storm – we lost power for a total of about 20 hours, and the creek got pretty high, but no flooding, washed out bridges or landslides like last year with Irene.  Though there are areas in Ulster county where the power is still out.  We ended up staying upstate through the week, me working from home online and Mr. Sticks having the week off because his office building in Manhattan hasn’t had power since the storm.  A lot of our friends here ended up coming back upstate early this week either to avoid the storm, or because they didn’t have power downstate.

Since the weather has changed or has been wet in the past few weeks, we haven’t been able to do our normal outside work (scraping, painting, scraping, painting, painting) and we weren’t quite as tired a few Saturday nights ago as we usually were, so we decided to do something different: go to the local auction.

We’ve done pretty well with furniture since we combined items from two apartments into one when we bought the house, but there are a few things we’ve been looking for: a short, narrow chest of drawers or cabinet to put in the downstairs bathroom, bedside tables, and it would be great to find a cool coffee table to bring down to the apartment in Brooklyn.

We’d been to Rt 28 Exchange  in Shokan once briefly, but we got there after the auction had already started, we didn’t know the process, and we hadn’t had a chance to preview what was for sale, so we left after watching for about thirty minutes.  But one thing we sensed when we were there: going to the auction is one of the social and entertaining things people do around here on a Saturday evening.  Rather than going to a movie, people go to the auction.

Rather than take the longer trip to Shokan, we decided to go to Robert’s Auction in Boiceville (they used to be in Arkville, but moved sometime last year after the flood). They provide a listing with photos of some of the things that are available a few days before the auction.  They auction start at 6:00pm sharp, so we got there early so we would have time to look around at what was for sale, decide if we wanted to stay and figure out what we wanted to bid on.  Then we registered with the guy in the back, got our bidding paddle (the thing with a number on it that you hold up when you want to place a bid), then waited for the auction to start.

They auction of a lot of stuff every weekend, and a lot of it is junk – but junk to me, is treasure for others.  There were lots of tools (both old and new) garden implements, furniture of all ages, shapes, sizes and conditions, dishes, paintings, frames and miscellaneous bric-a-brac.  I could see it getting very easy to get carried away and buy stuff you don’t really want and definitely don’t need.  But it is very much like going to a show – the auctioneer reeling off prices and pointing to bidders, the quips he would exchange with the people working and holding up items for bid, the characters in the audience.  It all moves pretty fast, so if you want something, you have to make up your mind quickly or someone else will get it.

There was one thing that we saw that had we known it was going to go for so little money, we would have bid on it: a really nice oak sideboard that I assumed was going to sell for hundreds of dollars.  It ultimately sold for $55 and we are still kicking ourselves that we didn’t bid on it.

We ended up spending about $180 and got the following items: two nice wicker chairs, a nice oak chair, three crates of old 78 Edison records, some berry picking crates that I’ll use for seedlings, a framed mirror, 2 wooden runner sleds, some metal hooks, an old bow saw, and the ‘mahogany’ secretary in the photo above  (not something we normally would have gotten, nor was it something we were looking for, but for $14???).  Most of the things we got need repairs or at the very least cleaning, so you can’t really expect to get new or like new items for the prices you pay at auctions, but if you’re willing to put in some elbow grease or do minor repairs and painting, auctions can be great places to find bargains.

Next time we go, we’ll go even earlier and stop off at the new PhoeniciaDiner on Rt 28 inPhoenicia.  It’s been renovated and has new management and a new chef and the food is excellent.  Diner classics that are locally sourced and fresh.  And they did a great job with the renovation – keeping the booths, counter, metal and tile details, but cleaning it up and highlighting the diner aspects of it.  They are open from Thursday – Monday from 7AM to 5PM, (no dinner yet) so go for a late lunch or early dinner (they’ve been packed on weekends for breakfast) and fill up before hitting the auction.

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