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Not on the radar…. Auctions and COVID-19

By: Yvette VanDerBrink

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Weather is something that an auctioneer pays attention to when conducting Live/Online auctions. Growing up on a farm in South Dakota, you learn to watch the weather. We used to step outside and watch the clouds, but now we can just watch the radar on your phone to plan for potential inclement weather. 2020 was shaping up to have more amazing auctions, then came a storm that I couldn’t pick up on my radar - COVID-19.I woke up on March 18th wondering about this virus and how it would affect auctions. I have to admit, at first I could not see how this would be a big deal. We deal with the flu every year. This appeared to be different. The news changed and the spread of COVID-19 started to make its way to the Midwest. VanDerBrink Auctions, along with others, were watching how this would affect our events. Soon were the cancellations of Good Guys, Hot Harley Nights and Mecum rescheduled. We had to start looking at how to proceed. Many states were enacting “stay at home” orders, social distancing and limiting group sizes. VanDerBrink Auctions loves our buyers and sellers and wants to keep everyone safe. Just like that, we were thrust into a position of adjusting to a “new normal.”

We have been doing "Simulcast" auctions since 2004 and also “Online Only” auctions. So now we were faced with moving dates and making our first auctions online only and/or with virtual auctions. When we do our land auctions we do them in the fields, where bidders can stay in their vehicles while bidding. It works great. But how could this be applied safely and according to guidelines to an automotive auction? It couldn’t! So we needed to re-advertise and adapt to the new process until we can get back to having fun in the sun and selling at a live auction. We are hoping normalcy will return this summer. We have so many cool things scheduled for auction like a 1961 Mercedes Benz 190SL Roadster, 20-1932 Fords, 1959 Caddies, motorcycles and more. Most of all, I love meeting and talking to my bidders and celebrate our seller’s collections.

A study was done as to the results at auction and the atmosphere of the bidding. The study showed that when bidders were uncomfortable, they had a tendency to bid higher. Well, I don’t think they were thinking about COVID-19 when they conducted that study. We recently had a Zoom conference with almost 175 auctioneers from around the United States. Every area had Governors that had implemented different guidelines. Most all auctioneers had gone totally online or postponed dates. There were also auctioneers still conducting live auctions as they were deemed essential by CDC guidelines. Recently, there was a large Amish Horse auction in Iowa. Over 400 attended the auction. The state worked with the auction company. They encouraged distancing and held the action outdoors. It was also taken into consideration that the Amish don’t typically travel or socialize outside of their community. The event took a lot of criticism from the public, even with taking precautions. In South Dakota, 5 miles from my house, they can conduct live auctions. It’s very frustrating with the restrictions in place in my state. So that is why we are looking at virtual and online sales and hope to be back into the swing soon. We encourage everyone to watch the website for updates so that they are prepared. We are also working with pickup times with various apps like Signupgenius.

Well let’s look at the upside of this ordeal... if there is one. I’ve been following guys on my Facebook and Instagram groups and we all have gained time to work on our projects. My husband and I have been working on a 1969 Camaro to get ready for summer. It’s cool to see all the guys looking for parts and showing off their rides. I’ve also had extra time to post cool auctions we have coming up. I even did a youtube video on looking at VINs and how to bid on a classic car at an auction. Watch for that. I would think that this ole’ virus wouldn’t think of biting a guy or gal that has gasoline, rust, and greasy hands. I have to admit, I sat in my 1965 Chevelle SS and gave it a little pep talk. I told it not to worry, we’ll get you out of the shed soon and down the road. Actually, I can’t think of a better way to social distance right now. So, hang in there we’ll get through this, and VanDerBrink Auctions will get you back on the road! So, stay safe and we’ll all back to the cruises, shows, and auctions before you know it. For now, follow the CDC guidelines, wash those greasy paws, and dig out those body shop masks. Stay safe!

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Yvette VanDerBrink-Auctioneer
VanDerBrink Auctions
The Salvage princess
The Lil’ Nordstrom’s Gal

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