Why You Need to Know About Online Auctions
A couple of years ago, my husband and I discovered local online auction.
When we first came across them, we thought it was too good to be true. We did a ton of research and eventually registered for a local one in Arkansas. Sure enough, everything was legit and we were able to buy a treadmill, standing desk, and much more for a fraction of the cost. Our treadmill retail price is $650 and we bought it for $.37 (Yes you read that right).
I want to help you save money and that is why you need to know about local online auctions.
What is an Online Auction?
An online auction is an auction held over the internet. The auction offers buyers a wide variety of goods for trade. Of course, you have your websites like eBay where you are shipped your items, but local online auctions are different.
There are different companies that hold their merchandise in warehouses, they get truckloads of merchandise on a regular basis and put it online. The merchandise ranges from estate sales, home decor, fitness equipment, clothing, personal hygiene products, tools, etc.
Please note, that these auctions are “buy as-is”. You may win a minifridge that has a dent, or a vanity that has a crack but you saved $300. Our $.37 treadmill is missing the front cover, but it works perfectly so who cares! Most auction companies will have a preview day so you can personally see if the item you want has physical damages.
Do your research on the company, some will list broken items and others will only list high-quality items.
Where do I find them?
Google your city, or the largest city near you and add online auction at the end. You will see a lot of results. Do your research and pay attention to the rules and locations.
One website might host auctions for 10 different companies so make sure you are entering an auction that is near you. Unless you are okay with driving an hour or so. Sometimes the deals are worth the trip.
How does it work?
Like any auction, you the buyer will bid against others for an item. The highest bid wins.
Prior to bidding, you will need to set up an account with the website. Most are free but some require a one-time membership payment. Once you have signed up you will get your bidder number. Write this down! You will need it to place any bets.
** IMPORTANT NOTE: Some companies take 12-24 hours to send you a bidding number so DO NOT sign up the day you want to bid.
Always read the rules of an auction. The rules will tell you the time the auction ends, pickup dates & times, payment information, no returns, etc.
Once you have entered the auction and have found an item you want, you will see the starting price and then the next required minimum bid. Each auction will have bidding increments. Some go up by $.25 and others will go up by $1-5. You will also see a place to enter your max bid on an item. That is optional but helpful if you can’t bid live.
When you win, you will be sent an e-mail with an invoice to print out and pick up instructions. Bring the invoice with you to the warehouse and pay. Some places will bring the items to you and others make you walk through the warehouse and find it yourself. Be prepared to search (most aren’t organized well) and bring help if you purchase a large quantity or heavy items.
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How long do online auctions last?
Most auctions will be posted a week before bidding day. This gives you time to go through the inventory and see what the starting prices are. Some end in the morning and others end at night. However, you need to find out “How many lots per minute” are sold. Let me break that down for you.
Lot = the number assigned to an item. You will find the number posted by the item you want. Some auctions will close 3 lots per minute. So the ending time of an auction may be 10:00 AM but there are 100 lots. You want to bid on lot 90, so you can still bet on that item until 10:30 AM.
Some items get extended bidding time if a bet is placed within the last 2-3 minutes of it opening. Again, read the rules to find the lots per minute and the extended bidding time.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks that we have learned.
- Preview the items if there are preview days
- Don’t enter a max bid if you can live bet. Sometimes, the website will have a computer bid in order to meet the highest max bid.
- Place your bet at the last second before the extended time. If the extended bid time starts when a bid is placed within the last 2 minutes, submit your bid at minute 3 or 2 min 30 sec.
- Read the descriptions of each item carefully so you know what you are buying.
- If the auction is cash only try to bring the exact amount. Some places do not give out change.
- Do your research on the retail price so you don’t bid over the amount it is worth.
- Plan accordingly. Don’t bid on an item if you can’t pick it up on the date and time they give you.
- For heavy items or large quantities bring a buddy.
- Can’t pick up an item because you don’t have help? Some places will allow you to pay on the pickup date and then come back later.
Creative ways to use your auction items
You will come across auctions that sell pallets of a certain item. Yetis, tampons, water bottles, subway tiles, and much more. Here are some ideas of what you can do with those large quantity items.
- Buy the 30 Yetis. Keep the 4 that you want and give the rest of them as Christmas/birthday gifts. Or you can monogram them (if you are crafty) and sell them online.
- You can buy the pallet of 25 boxes of tampons, keep a few for yourself and then donate the rest to a women’s shelter.
- Stock up on Halloween candy and give it to teachers for their classroom.
- Donate a pallet of shoes to a local homeless shelter.
You can do all kinds of things! We have friends that will buy pallets of random stuff because it’s super cheap and they find a way to give back with it.
For more expensive items, like a grill or area rug, buy it and then resell it on the Facebook marketplace.
My favorite auctions
Here is a list of my personal favorite sites. These are only in Arkansas and Dallas because that is where I have lived.
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions please comment below!