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I attended the auction of Hewlett-Packard’s Corvallis “Model Shop” yesterday, and it got me wondering whether going to industrial auctions is worth it. This particular auction had sky-high bidding and although there were a few things that my buddy and I wanted, we ended up buying nothing. That said, I’ve found great deals and bought many of my tools at other auctions.

So, the Hot:  Sometimes you find great, pennies-on-the-dollar deals.  You meet many like-minded tool junkies and local shop owners, so it’s a good place to network.  You get to take a look inside a shop and see how the owner set up their tools, stored their tooling, etc.

The Not:  Depending on the local economy and the auctioneer you may end up with prices that are the inverse of pennies-on-the-dollar.  Auctions take a good deal of time, upwards of 6-10 hours in some cases.  You often find yourself standing on a cold concrete slab in a dirty building.  The amenities are often poor.

Possibly the worst thing:  You get some good deals on stuff you really don’t need, and your shop ends up cluttered with all these piles of weird crap that might be “useful” someday.  (This could also be seen as “Hot” if you have an understanding spouse.)

Let us know what you think in comments.

Thanks to killbox for the great CC-licensed photo.


7 Responses to Hot or Not? Industrial Auctions

  1. Punameco says:

    Hot: But you have to know what the bargains are. Chances are that most commonly desired items will get bid up over a realistic price (“auction fever” at work) however for the off beat and uncommon items, things the general public has no idea what they are or have no ability to use, genuine bargains can be had.

  2. asbestos says:

    I had an antique store for about 7 years. and am a veteran of at least 150 auctions. Many featured contents from industrial as well as homes in the same auction. I would have to sit through both because there was stuff I needed to buy to fix and sell. or stuff I wanted to buy, stuff that needed fixing and the tools to do it. It comes down to time. if you go with a buddy or two they can be as good a place to sit around and BS as any. Sometimes you get something for $20 that otherwise there was no way you could have even touched. other times you get a very used HF bench grinder going for $35.
    A huge bonus is that you will see some cool stuff, some weird stuff, some stuff you can even figure out what it is for, and if you are lucky a few items no one has any idea about. and at preview you get too dig through it all. I have seen so many strange items that I could not figure out until at another auction some old guy in back let you in on it.

  3. killbox says:

    Thanks! Its awesome to stumble across my photos being used, and being used well!

  4. Terry says:

    The rational voice in my head says I don’t have the room for any more stuff. I shouldn’t go near auctions like this because I don’t have the willpower to pass up what I don’t need. But, the louder voice is wondering where I can find these auctions.

  5. Leaf says:

    Kind of makes you wounder if the economy is really as bad as everyone says it is if the prices at auctions are still not that low.

  6. Toolhearty says:

    I read a pretty good summation of auctions somewhere:

    “If you won an auction, you were willing to pay more than anyone else was so, by definition, you paid too much.”

    There are bargains to be had, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.

  7. george curtis says:

    i had an auction place in the same culdesac as my business. i was stunned at what folks were paying for stuff. i talked to the owners once about it. they said they just laughed their way to the bank. they did work hard though.

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