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Old 10-30-11, 05:21 PM   #1
SumoMuffin
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State surplus auction. OH! THE HORROR!

I went to a state (Virginia) surplus auction yesterday hoping to score some cheap bikes and other resellables. I was amazed at, one: the condition of the bikes they were trying to sell; and two: how much people were buying them for. Junky Next bikes with no seat and 5mm of rust on the entire drivetrain were going for $30!! The only bike remotely nice was a Giant Boulder, also rusty and with frayed cables. It went for $60! The sad part was most of the people bidding on them looked poor. I guess people get excited about the auction aspect and drive the price up.

Anyone else have experience with auctions like this? More horror stories? Success stories??
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Old 10-30-11, 05:33 PM   #2
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In the 1990s, my dad lost his job when a factory left town and opened his own gun and tackle shop. It was his dream, so I'm glad he did it, but it only took a couple of years for him to realize that he didn't want to be in retail. We ended up holding an auction to sell off the remaining inventory (dad kept the building out back . . . with the air conditioning, the alarm system, the security doors, and the walls of racks for his own collections, plus the glass display cases. Sometimes I think that was the plan from the beginning.)

Anyway, people went crazy at the auction, and almost everything sold for more than it would have cost at retail in the shop--much of it still had price stickers marked. My parents paid off the bank loan they'd taken on to start the shop and put the rest away. Dad's greatest regret about that auction was putting one of his favorite antique rifles in to be sold. At the time, he'd been hoping they could pay off most of the bank loan and get out with their skin still on their backs; as it turned out, he could have kept it. Auctions are intoxicating, and the better the auctioneer is at keeping the action moving, the less people think about what they're really spending.
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Old 10-30-11, 05:48 PM   #3
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If an an auctioneer can whip the crowd into a frenzy "bidding wars" will start and money will be made !!
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Old 10-31-11, 02:28 AM   #4
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I remember going to an auto auction up in Richmond back in the early 90's with my father. The cars being auctioned were obviously govt fleet vehicles in questionable condition. Seemed like most of the active bidders were used car lot dealers and junkyard/used part guys.

If you're looking for bike auctions, you're better off going to a Police dept auction.
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Old 10-31-11, 04:10 AM   #5
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I used to drive cars for an exotic auto auction. That was interesting beyond being able to jump from 59 Corvette to Rolls to Porsche. There were all levels of cars. The bottom feeders were the worn out land yachts, big, inexpensive, groaning as they rolled and barely able to cross the auction floor. Invariably, they were running on fumes as well. Above that was a nicer mix of everything from 57 Chevy's to MG TCs and garden variety Rolls. Collectors for everyman. And then there were the purebreds, the one of a kind cars, with prices that got buying fever going, and drove up the prices for the others.

The professional buyers played all the angles. They got friendly with the drivers because the drivers were the only ones who could actually run the machines and have an unbiased opinion about the cars.

Of course there was a bar in the back of the tent. In buyer registration, they made sure to point out that "buyer's remorse" would not be honored. You buy it, you bought it. More than one drunken buyer realized after the fact that he had made an expensive bargain. Of course, there was also a bank on site willing to give you credit, at a price.

Some people knew how to play the game and made money at it consistently. Others would get swept up in buying fever.
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Old 10-31-11, 05:09 AM   #6
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just once when i kinda scared myself.

i've only been to a couple of police auctions, mostly 'cause i never know when they are and end up coming across one by chance. anyway, i was into car stereo back then and was looking at an older amp. i knew it was a decent name brand, but being older i figured it wouldn't go for much (and i didn't have much anyway) so i decided to try for it.

so the bidding starts, and i have my hand in the air for the initial bid, but it jumps up so fast. it's beyond what i have in an instant and my hand is still up. fortunately the bidding kept flying up well past my snatching my own hand out of the air. something i was thinking i might consider maxing out around $50 for ended up going well into the hundreds of dollars.
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Old 10-31-11, 07:33 AM   #7
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If an an auctioneer can whip the crowd into a frenzy "bidding wars" will start and money will be made !!
This is exactly why auctions aren't such a good place to buy used bicycles. The media has romanticized auctions so much lately that it's now to the point of saturation from overinterest. Buyers with money to burn think they can get a good deal. Thrift shops, flea markets, garage sales and even CL are actually better places to buy now, because the crush of humanity is not there all at once. You can slip in, find a good deal fast and slip out stealthily without anyone noticing. One of my current fitness bikes was purchased this way.
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Old 10-31-11, 08:17 AM   #8
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Agreed, CL and garage sales are by far the best. They also give a good opportunity for haggling with the seller.
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Old 10-31-11, 08:27 AM   #9
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Even on line auctions are out of control these days. Rarely if never a good deal on ebay anymore.
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Old 10-31-11, 10:00 AM   #10
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Which is why I only ever bid my maximum in the last 5 to 10 seconds of the auction. If I win I win, if I don't, I don't have time to get into a bidding frenzy.
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Old 10-31-11, 10:01 AM   #11
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I went to a city auction last summer and had the same experience as you. They had around 100 bicycles and 96 of them were Xmart bikes with bent wheels, missing pedals and rusted everything. They were selling for over or near original retail. I was very disappointing.
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Old 10-31-11, 08:17 PM   #12
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Agreed, CL and garage sales are by far the best. They also give a good opportunity for haggling with the seller.
I prefer estate sales to garage sales. In the estate sale, everything is for sale. In a garage sale, only the stuff they don't like is for sale.
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Old 11-04-11, 01:47 PM   #13
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estate sales are often chances at finding incredible deals. Especially in a semi-technical area like bikes.
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