Community Auction – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

March 29, 2009

In my neck of the woods many communities have an annual auction.  They block off one or more streets in their town, several auctioneers volunteer their time, and a commission from the sales goes to a local charitable organization.  Some people use this as an opportunity to clear out their basements, barns, garages, and attics, others make this a sideline business buying and selling various antiques, farm equipment, tools, household items, even livestock. 

An organization I work with sponsors our town’s auction this time each year.  This year it was a volunteer activity for the entire family.  DH helped people set up and helped auctioneers show items.  I helped buyers get their bidder numbers before the auction begins.  The kids were runners for the auctioneers taking paperwork from the trucks to the office throughout the auction.  We were all pretty weary afterwards, but it was a good weary.

Some years are better than others, and while the numbers aren’t in yet, it looks as if the proceeds this year will be meager.  The economy didn’t help, but neither did the weather.  It started cold and windy and got worse.  The sale began at 10:00 and the rain began at 11.  The hard-core sellers and the habitual buyers were there dressed in their warmest hunting and farming attire.  The less hardy looked out the window and stayed home.  With five auctioneers working simultaneously it was all over by 1:30.   So for the sellers it wasn’t a record-breaking day.  But for the buyers it was great.  What deals!

The community auction is a great time to see old friends, covet or laugh about items for sale, and make some money for a worthy cause.  But it’s also a fairly eco-friendly way to deal with our stuff.

Reduce.  I used the sale as a chance to make a dent in our accumulated stuff.  I hit the basement and the garage and a couple of cupboards and found several boxes of items we will never miss.  Plus it was time to get rid of the patio furniture.  I only scraped the surface at what could be gone, but every little bit counts.

Reuse. We had nothing of much value to sell so we donated it all to the sponsoring organization and I don’t know how much it went for.  But I was happy to see the patio set was gone along with all but a small bunch of metal garden-themed decorations (that I had ended up with in a box from another auction).

Meanwhile, I was not sitting with my hands in my pocket.  I had my bidder number and used it.

We were in the market for a few items.  My daughter needed a dresser; we needed patio furniture; we were running low on lawn chairs, and the dining room table is a bit rickety.   Look for these in a store – ka-ching, ka-ching. 

We did very well, if I may say so myself.  We may have spent a little more than warranted on a metal patio set (can you say recycleable?), but the dining room table with two chairs (bonus!) was a deal.  Two metal lawn chairs for $5 total is nothing to sneeze at, although they do need to be repainted.  And the dresser – $1.00! 

And lastly Recycle.  After the auction the metal recyclers come around.  Occasionally there are even squabbles over who gets a hunk of metal to recycle.  Three blocks lined with goods on either side is reduced a few hours later to a small pickup load for the landfill.

There also appears to have been a bit of recycling done with our new dining room table.  It is what they call in the biz, a marriage of different pieces.  It’s an oak pedestal table with three leaves.  But the leaves are pine, not oak, and there are two sets of holes in the table for leaves, so there were clearly other leaves with different pegs originally.  And a look at the pedestal suggests it was probably on another table first.  Do I care?  Nope.  It just means I don’t have to treat this as a fine antique.  Which is good, because a fine antique wouldn’t be fine for long in this house.

We stayed in town, bought three major purchases and a couple of chairs and spent less than we would have likely spent for one table at retail prices.  We supported a local charity, volunteered our own efforts, and cleared some space in our own home.   It was a socially-conscious, environmentally friendly  kind of day.


One comment

  1. Love the idea to auction off old stuff. We have a community fundraiser auction, but it’s always new stuff. This would be a great school fundraiser too.

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