Better Than eBay

The gallery of the W.A. Smith auction house before the auction began. Photo provided.

My First Time At An Auction

You know that feeling you get when your heart races so hard you feel it in your head? I had that feeling.

My head screamed. My heart pounded. My hand leapt in the air before I knew what was happening.

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I must have look petrified.

As a 26-year-old who has furnished an apartment almost entirely with online deals, I think I was the youngest bidder at the W.A. Smith auction. I was wide-eyed and stunned. This was like an action-packed movie.

An entire Ethan Allen bedroom set for $100?

A giant rug for $150?

Aren’t antiques expensive? I thought.

Apparently not. The auction business has shifted, Bill Smith told me. Smith owns the W.A. Smith auction house in Plainfield. In the 55 years he’s been in business, he has seen interests shift toward modern designs and wallets toward online sales. Fewer are bidding at auctions and the selling price is anyone’s guess. Smith told me there was no better time to buy an antique.

“They’re going for pennies on the dollar,” he said.

I had to test this, so there I was Tuesday night with a numbered card for bidding in my hands and my eyes on this bed.  It was a small wooden bed with ropes instead of springs. I decided it was the perfect couch replacement.

“Would anyone like that for $200?” auctioneer Ken Labnon asked. “$200 for the bed?”

My brain started arguing with itself.

Raise your number! The voice said.

No, net yet!

“How ‘bout $100?” the auctioneer asked.

Raise your number!

No, net yet.

“$50 for the bed?”

Raise your number!

The auctioneer asked for $60, but there were no takers. The bed was mine!

A bed for $50? I wondered.Is that a good price?

I looked up what my bed was worth as soon as I got home.

Rope beds are selling for at least $500 on eBay and up to $2,000 elsewhere. Smith was right. I was missing out on something.

This was better than eBay.

My new couch. Photo provided


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