Once again I will spend some time talking about the recent auction. Folks remain curious as to my reasons and approach for covering the things I do. Both are very simple. I only want to be associated and involved in an organization that I have trust and confidence in. Since the inception of MEARS, I have been very public about fiscal issues, matters of policy, and at times, things I have not been very happy with. Including an auction venue to the MEARS portfolio only places something additional under my scrutiny that should be covered in the same manner.

A number of things I have always been happy with remained in place with the October Auction, for example the three words you won’t see in a MEARS Auction… “Reserve Not Met.” No games or playing with words or concepts as to if the reserve is hidden or not. If you see those three words and are not told what that reserve is, then there is a reserve and that amount is hidden from the bidder. In a MEARS auction, you will see an opening price. If one bid is placed, the item is sold. From feedback I have received, some collectors may not like that price, but they appreciate our honesty up front and that continues to be rewarded. Additionally, if a MEARS employee has a financial interest in an item, then that too is disclosed in the item description.

An additional thing that collectors seem to appreciate is the industry low 10% buyer’s premium. This is even more striking when you consider that if you are paying for your item with either a credit card or Pay Pal, on average MEARS is absorbing 3% of that purchase price in MEARS for your convenience. In my opinion, Troy has done a great job in managing a very small staff in order to keep “pass through” costs down to buyers.

Say you bought an item and paid with a credit card or Pay Pal. What did you get for 7% by bidding in a MEARS Auction.

1. The ability to know what the absolute minimum you would have to pay for any and all items, without exception, in any auction.

2. The confidence to know that you were only bidding against other legitimate bidders.

3. An item that is covered by the MEARS Buyers Protection Program.

4. Disclosed financial interest on the part of MEARS Auctions employees and staff.

Combine all of this with what it costs the bidding collector, I am proud to say all of these things, as a complete package, can not be found in any other auction venue and I state this with no qualifiers. Some may feature parts, portions or variations, but not this entire package and price.

Moving on to the October Auction, the Total Prices Realized (Including 10% BP) was $84,421.70. This represented our best auction yet. The numbers for October looked like this:

-670 lots were offered

-252 lots bid on

-37% of the lots sold (68% for September)

– 47% of the lots sold for the minimum bid (39% for September)

This is what I saw and liked. Troy and his staff put together over twice the number of lots than the previous month. A lower percentage sold overall and higher percentage sold at the minimum bid, yet the total price realized was the highest we have had yet.

The high selling item in the September auction sold for 33% of the auction total and it was bought by an auction house. This tells me they saw room to make additional money on it, meaning you will likely pay more for it the next time it comes up as that auction house is likely to want to protect their investment. In this auction, the number of dealers and auction houses winning lots was the lowest in our history. This auction was successful because we had an increase in new registered bidders and those bidders bid with greater frequency by both a raw number and number of multiple bid lots. In my mind this is a lot with more than 5 bids. This number may appear low to you, but consider the context and environment that it occurred in. All of these were legitimate bids as none were executed on the part of the auction house.

While other auction houses, as points of primacy, focus on themselves and their consigners, I think this has always been a short sighted approach. Collectors drive the market as what they are willing to pay and why are the forcing functions. What we are now seeing is that collectors are learning, much to their dismay, the why has involved business practices that have actually involved them bidding against themselves. Why, because it was good for the house and the consigner. What happens when collectors learn this? They become less and less likely to continue want to subsidize these deceptive business practices.

I think a strong parallel can be drawn between this and what happened with SCD. In my opinion, SCD’s focus became that of their advertisers and not the readers and this was the short sighted approach. Your ability generate advertising dollars is based on the desire of your readership to want to buy the publication. When they have good reasons to subscribe, they will and this offers a high circulation rate to attract advertisers and their dollars. It does not work the other way around.

With legitimate auction venues, collector interest and confidence drives honest bidding. I used the qualifiers “legitimate” and “honest bidding” as that is the dynamic we work under. I remain firmly convinced that this has been rewarded in the MEARS model and will only translate into greater long terms gains for both MEARS and MEARS consigners. I think the early data seems to validate this trend if we look at the first, midpoint, and last auction.

Dec 2008: $8,437.00 (255 lots)

May 2009: $36,921.00 (695lots)

Oct 2009: $84,421.00 (670 lots)

Between the first and most recent auction, MEARS has increased the number of lots by a factor of roughly 2.5 while the dollar value achieved has been roughly a factor of 10. This has been due to collector interest and the attraction of some nice externally consigned items which is just the dynamic we have sought to achieve.

I wish to thank all those who bid in this most recent auction as well as those individuals who also consigned. I would also like to thank Troy and his staff for their hard work and willingness to listen to me and the collective voice of the collecting community.

As always, collect what you and enjoy and enjoy what you collect.


For comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com