A couple of years ago the City made the switch from the traditional in-person auction format to an online auction service to sell off surplus items and that’s proven to be one of the smartest decisions we’ve made.
I may miss the witty banter of the fast talking auctioneer but he/she comes at a price, and with Ebay showing what a powerful tool the internet can be to expand the market for second hand items, we figured if you can’t beat’em, join’em. We did and we haven’t looked back for a minute.
Maybe the nostalgic side of me hates to see the auctioneer go the way of the milk man or gas station attendant who always asked if he could check your oil, but the businessman in me has seen the math and the numbers are clear — the increased bidding competition that comes from selling on-line pushes prices up. Our job is to get the best prices we can for the community so we had to say goodbye to the auctioneer in order to say hello to increased revenues.
It turns out customers agreed, and as the number of bidders grew, so did the sale prices and City revenues. The convenience offered by the internet, giving prospective bidders 24 hours a day access to view the items, is an advantage that expands the bidder pool beyond the number of people that show up under the tent for a traditional auction event.
It’s really micro-economics 101, the more eyeballs looking at the items increases demand which pushes the price point higher along the supply line. It’s that simple, and I think that’s why I like it so much — a clean, simple decision that worked. It’s hard to find many of those these days, so forgive me if I celebrate this one more than it might perhaps warrant at face value.
Here’s a snapshot of this year’s online auction:
Total lots (grouped items) sold = 53
Total in state purchasers comprised 82% of revenue
Total in out of state purchasers comprised 18% of revenue
Click Here to see the specific details of what was sold and for how much.