For thrills and chills it's pretty hard to beat an auction. The thrills come with competing for a bargain and the chills come from the silence you hear when the bidding ends for that A-1 tractor you are trying to sell.
As you can read in the March Ohio Farmer I visited the Ashland Hay and Straw Auction last month. While hay and straw are the main products exchanged, a morning produce auction also draws a crowd.
"The produce auctions here and around this area are getting more and more popular," says Tom Dilgard, Ashland's auctioneer and owner. "In today's economy auctions may become even bigger," he speculates.
According to the National Auctioneers Association some $268.4 billion in goods and services were sold at auction in the United States in 2008. Yeah that's big even if it is a slight decrease of just less than 1% compared to 2007. Only five sectors of the industry: agricultural machinery and equipment, commercial and industrial machinery and equipment, land and agricultural real estate, residential real estate, and charity auctions, showed an increase in business. Significant decreases in gross revenue were reported in art, antiques and collectibles (-9.3%), automobile (-5.4%), and personal property (-5.1%) auctions.
Agricultural machinery and equipment auctions led the industry with gross sales revenue increasing 1.9% in 2008. Since the NAA began tracking the industry in 2003, gross receipts from real estate auctions have increased each year. Last year, residential real estate auctions increased 1.1% and agricultural real estate grew 0.5%. Commercial real estate dipped 1.4% last year.
It seems to me the U.S. government is joining the auction business right now trying to find bidders for the infamous toxic assets that capsized our economic cruise ship. I've run into several entrepreneurs who are trying to sort through the debris and find some assets worth bidding on.
Like any auction the key is to get the action moving. Dilgard starts the bidding by telling people, "Pay attention folks, you aren't going to want to miss this one."
We'll see about that.
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