How to bid at an auction...

OK. We get it. If you've never been to an auction, let alone bid at one, it's pretty intimidating. The auctioneers are talking so fast (and what exactly are they saying in all that sing-song?) You're not sure if you should wave your hand, wink or do something else to let him know you want to bid. Ebay isn't like this!

Here in Ohio's Amish Country, auctions are a part of life. We grow up with them and so it's just a part of life here so we forget that it's not that way everywhere.

Here's a quick guide to bidding and more importantly, BUYING at an auction.

12 Tips for Bidding at an Auction

  1. First, get to the auction early to inspect all the auction items. Here at the Ohio Relief Sale, we only auction new items (or we will call it out if an antique is being sold), but at other auctions that may not be the case. If an item interests you, look it over carefully - once you bid on the item that means you're commiting to buying it as it is.
  2. Now is the time to ask questions. Ask the auctioneer's assistants or auction crew if you need clarification.
  3. Get a buyers number. Be sure to bring and ID or driver's license to show to the clerk. They'll record your address, phone number and possibly your driver's license number as proof of your identity, then they'll issue you a card with a number. Keep this card safe and don't lose it - you'll need it to bid!
  4. The auction is getting started and it's now time to pay close attention. This is a standard rule: whatever is stated by the auctioneer before the item sells is the most accurate or current information you'll get. What is announced trumps what may be stated in the catalog.
  5. Once the auction has started, listen closely to the auctioneer to get the rhythm of his/her auction style. In their chant, you'll hear something like "I've got 100, now 150" or something similiar. That means they already have a bid of "100" and they are looking for a bid of "150".
  6. There are TV shows where buyers obnoxiously yell in order to bid. This isn't necessary, but you do need to make sure the auctioneer or an assistant sees that you're bidding. Hold your hand high and wave if you intend to bid. Keep eye contact with the auctioneer!
  7. Be careful if you "talk" with your hands - you might end up bidding on something!
  8. Are you "in" or "out"? If the auctioneer says you're "in" that means you've got the top bid. If you're "out", that means you need to bid higher.
  9. You did it! You bid and won the item! On your buyer's card, write down the number of the item and what you paid for it.
  10. It's time to pay, so be sure to visit the clerk to pay for your items and get your receipt. Most auctions take a credit card, but you sometimes pay extra to use it. Bring your checkbook or cash, too.
  11. Make sure your list and your receipt have the same item numbers, descriptions and prices. At the Relief Sale, you'll need your receipt in order to collect your quilt or other items.
  12. Finally, have fun. A day at the auction is like a treasure hunt. You might go home with a deal or perhaps the satisfaction that you spent money for a good cause. Enjoy it!