I think we all have at least one person on our gifting list that's difficult to buy for. Whether they seem to already have everything under the sun, are ultra-picky, or ask for items outside of your budget range, finding the perfect gift for them is challenging at best.
My dad is notoriously hard to buy for. His home is an eclectic collection of '50s era antiques, with a few modern items sprinkled in. At the same time, he's pretty frugal, and there really are very few things that he actually needs. I often find myself resorting to gift cards, because then he can just pick up whatever he needs, but it feels a little impersonal, you know?
So when American Auction Co. contacted me about checking out their site for holiday gifting, a little lightbulb went off. You see, I used to do a lot of garage sale-ing and antique hunting with my dad back when my husband and I were first married. Once we had kids, though, that became nearly impossible -- toddlers and antiques just don't mix!
And these days we just don't have the time to spend scouring garage sales and auctions. But online auction antique hunting... Well, that's something I can do from the couch in my yoga pants, and I don't even have to worry about my hands getting dusty and dirty.
I have to be honest, purchasing gifts at auction never crossed my mind, and I'm willing to bet it hasn't crossed yours either. But surprisingly, when I searched the American Auction Co. site, I found a lot of items that would make great gifts at prices far below retail -- and not just antiques, either.
For example, I found two of these Franklin Sports MLB Pro Return Trainers on AmericanAuctionCo.com (lot #1291 and #1292) with a starting bid of just $10. The description states that they're in the original packaging and appear to be unused.
In comparison, I found them on Amazon.com and elsewhere priced around $93! This would be a fantastic gift for my older boys.
And how about this Coleman Steel Cooler (lot #1315)? It appears to be in like new condition, and the current bid is $35. This slightly smaller model is on Amazon.com for $110 right now. That's a nice savings, and I know my husband has always wanted a really nice cooler like this!
I really got sucked into the sporting goods category, but I couldn't believe the prices... I also found three of these Spalding Basketball Hoops (lot #4109, #4110 & #4111), all new in the original box, with a starting bid of $10. Current retail price is $355!!!
In addition, I found power tools, quick set pools, small appliances, and much more. While not all of the items are new, the significant discounts are enough to make a little bit of wear more than acceptable.
I happen to know that my dad has a real weakness for vintage Santa Claus collectibles, and this lot of ceramic pieces (lot #354) certainly fits the bill. With a starting bid of $10, I'm pretty certain these are worth significantly more at retail. I think I'll place a bid and see what happens!
So I wasn't actually looking for anything for myself, but while I was browsing, I stumbled across this Manfrotto Professional Camera Tripod (lot #1341). It appears to be in excellent condition, and the starting bid is just $10. I looked it up on Amazon, and it retails for $80! I just might have to gift this to myself...
Using The American Auction Co. Site
Even if you've used other auction sites in the past, you'll want to browse American Auction Co.'s online auction FAQ before getting started. Some auctions are online only, some are in person only, and some are a combination of the two (known as simulcast), and the process winning an auction depends on the type. At its most basic, though, if an auction has a green Bid/View button, you can go ahead and bid on it.
Before you can bid, you'll need to register for an account, and two important pieces of information are needed to validate your account. First, you'll need to include your driver's license number and a scan of your driver's license, and second, a valid credit card needs to be on file. The first time you check in to an auction, a $200 hold will be placed on your card to guarantee your bids. When you're done bidding, you can go into your account settings and select "Return My Deposit".
Finally, if you win an auction, your items will usually ship within one week after the auction or lot has closed and been paid. You should see a "Please Ship" button on your account settings to set up the shipping and initiate your payment.
A Few Tips For Bidding On And Winning Online Auctions
- Do your research. Examine the auction images carefully, and read the description thoroughly so you know exactly what you're bidding on. If in doubt, don't be afraid to ask questions before you bid, either via phone or the online chat feature. Search the Internet to make sure that all parts or pieces are included, and to get an idea of what the going price is for an item.
- Set a limit. It's easy to get caught up in bidding wars, which can lead to paying a lot more than you intended for an item at auction. Have a set price in mind that you absolutely will not go above, and stick to it.
- Bid an odd dollar amount. When entering a bid, rather than entering a round dollar amount, $10 or $10.50, try bidding an odd amount like $10.62. It's natural to gravitate toward round numbers, so bidding an odd number may give you a slight edge on the competition.
- Make a last second bid. If you have a quick Internet connection, you might wait until the last few seconds to place your bid. I've been known to keep two windows open to the same item. One I prefill with my bid information, and the other I continually refresh until just before the auction is ready to end. If my set limit hasn't been exceeded, I'll submit my bid with a few seconds left before the auction ends.
Checking out AmericanAuctionCo.com has definitely opened my eyes to a whole new world of gifting. New auctions are added often, so check back frequently to see new items!
Have you ever shopped an auction for gifting purposes?
Disclosure: Sponsored by American Auction Co., all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site!