Editor of the Iowa Soybean Review, Ann Clinton

Ann Clinton, Iowa Soybean Review editor. (Photo: Iowa Soybean Association)

The Last Word: Estate Auction Thrills

September 24, 2021

“Is he speaking a foreign language?”

My 7-year-old nephew, Daniel, was standing beside me recently at an estate sale, listening to the auctioneer call out a choice of boxes organized on a flatbed trailer. We had combed through the offerings before the sale started, and Daniel was laser-focused on a plastic tote full of balls he’d seen down the line.

I explained to Daniel that the rhythmic chant of the caller wasn’t foreign, but it was definitely unique. I said the auctioneer had to go to a special school to learn the impressive skill of creating interest and urgency. My nephew was spellbound.

He took my bid card out of my pocket and held on to it for dear life. I can only imagine what he was thinking, but I assume he felt like he was clutching the key to the universe in his hands. Or, at least, that’s how a piece of paper with a number written in sharpie makes me feel.

By the time the crowd shuffled closer to Daniel’s treasures, he’d learned how a subtle head nod would seal the fate to his happiness. He was poised and ready when it was go time. There were a lot of items around the tote he wanted, and the bid was for choice. When the current call went over his allotted budget, he had to chance fate and let it go. But the winner didn’t pick the tote my nephew wanted, and so the process started over again. When Daniel won the bid and snatched up his treasures, I knew the child would be hooked on auctions for life.

Young man standing in front of his purchase at estate auction

I should interject here and say that I would have paid whatever it took to get Daniel that tote. However, it wasn’t my first time assessing an auction crowd, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t the athletic equipment our opponent was after! I’ve also learned over the years that playing it too safe won’t necessarily work out for you in the end. I have some estate auction regrets. But, I also have some wins. Let’s face it, it’s a “bid now or lose out” world we are living in right now.

I don’t know if Daniel will remember his first estate auction, but I will. It’s always fun introducing people you love to experiences that bring you joy. And it’s even more fun when you “win the bid” of whatever adventure you’re on.

What’s your auction tale? Tell me about your most satisfying win or heartbreaking pass. If I’ve learned anything about life over the years, it’s that the best memories are never about the stuff and always about the story.

Stay well, my friends.

This story was originally published in the October 2021 issue of the Iowa Soybean Review.