Buy it at Auction

Who says new is best? Pre-owned is often a bargain, and sometimes, that’s better.

(page 1 of 3)

A showroom at Jos. C. O’Neal & Sons Auctions in Laurel displays a diverse assortment of pre-owned furniture.Times are tight. If buying new—and paying for it—doesn’t fit the budget, turn to your local  auction. Not only will you find good prices, you’ll find things that are truly novel.

One of Jos. C. O’Neal & Sons Auctions fall sales is a great example. Liquidating inventory for Webster Furniture, which was going out of business, auctioneer Randy O’Neal saw brand new pieces selling for a fraction of the retail price.

“It kind of threw me for a loop, because primarily, we’re in the antiques business,” O’Neal says. “It was good to see some new faces, because the young crowd, as far as the antiques market goes, is just getting smaller with each passing year.”

Joseph J. Stein, owner of Stuart Kingston, an auction house in Rehoboth Beach, agrees that those new faces are learning the value of finding new and nearly new items at rock-bottom prices. Instead of paying the most a retailer believes it can charge—often a markup of 80 percent to 100 percent—you pay an amount based on how badly someone else wants the same item.

One of Stein’s most recent examples of an amazing bargain was a sofa grouping from Washington Design Center, a trade-only supplier of high-end furnishings. The sofa group originally cost $40,000. It sold at auction for substantially less.

“Once it’s carried off the showroom floor, it’s worth pennies on the dollar,” Stein says. “If people are willing to be prudent and willing to not be in a rush and not go out and spend money on new furniture, if they’re really smart, they’ll go to an auction and they can save a fortune.”

Still, many shoppers don’t consider auctions because of a perception that everything has to be new.

“It seems like there’s a stigma to buying anything that’s second-hand,” O’Neal says. “People want it to be bright and shiny and brand new. But all those negative stigmas go out the window when you’re buying with your pocketbook.”

Page 2: Buy it at Auction, continues...