Online Auctions Put Twist on Tradition

Article excerpt

For more than 2,000 years, the auction industry really didn't change much.

An auctioneer - a person who was one part showman and two parts marketing genius - would display at item and then, using the verbal agility of a veteran sportscaster, work to establish the highest possible price for that item.

It didn't matter what was being sold - arts, household goods, animals or stocks and bonds - a good auctioneer could quickly establish exactly what the market would pay for any given item.

That industry standard hadn't changed much in more than 2,000 years.

Then the world found the Internet.

Today, the local estate auction that draws buyers from across the county can bring in buyers from across the next county, the state, the next state or even a foreign country or two. Only instead of going to one place and bidding on items there, potential buyers can sit down at their computers and sign on to auctions from around the world.

Once the sale is completed online, the goods are shipped to their door.

Call it the digital version of the auction, and it's growing.

"It's a world market," said Louis Dakil. Dakil, who along with his wife, Susan, owns and operates Louis Dakil Auctioneers Inc., said the company gets bidders from across the globe. "We have bidders from England, from Guatemala, from Hong Kong from Saudi Arabia, from all over the world."

And what was once just a local or regional market for auctions, has, through the Internet, been opened to the world.

And for Dakil that expanded market offers his company the chance to sell its clients goods across the globe.

"At almost every major auction we give people the opportunity to bid anywhere in the world," he said. "We actually run the online auction parallel to the live auction on the floor. We're trying to maximize on everything for our clients."

Take, for example, oil-field equipment.

Once Dakil and his company set the auction date, prospective bidders are given the chance to preview the equipment in person about a week before the sale. On the sale date, photos of the equipment are shown and bids are accepted at Dakil's headquarters on NW 114th Street.

And while that spot might draw a few hundred bidders, Dakil's online version can draw many more times that number of bidders from across the globe.

"Yes. There are still people who need to see it, feel it and touch it," Dakil said. …