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Under the Hammer: An Auction at Furnistore

Furnistore Auction FlyerWords: Jenny Barret, Furnistore Manager

After some consultation, my trustees decided to try something a bit different and hold an auction as a means of fundraising and awareness raising within the community. Because of changes within our community and within the organisations we deal with most frequently, we were aware that the staff with whom we previously had contact had moved on and the links between ourselves and the organisations were not as strong.

Our marketing trustee took on the lead role in promoting the auction through local advertising, producing a flyer and contacting all the agencies and councillors we deal with. She also arranged for an auctioneer from a local auction house who gave his services for free.

We took the decision to auction furniture pieces that we were offered – some of which we not normally have taken but we took specifically for the auction and the more interesting bric-a-brac items were also included. In total we had 53 lots from an interesting pair of Chinese cupboards to a first pressing Beatles "Help" LP.

Many of our volunteers were involved on the day moving furniture to create an auction house taking up about half of the warehouse. The floor was swept and the items cleaned, dusted, polished and labelled with lot numbers (cloakroom tickets!). The lots were placed around the edge of the space and the chairs for the bidders in the centre of the area. We had initially been offered some stacking chairs but, as they had been sent to a school in Gambia we used whatever chairs we were offered in the week running up to the auction date.

We had made auction bidding paddles (paper plates with numbers in bold on them!) and took contact details of everyone who came along to bid. The volunteers and staff had supplied a buffet and hot drinks from 5.30pm as the bidders had an hour to view prior to the auction starting at 6.30pm. After a welcome from the Chair of Trustees and a brief introduction from the auctioneer, the bidding started. The auctioneer was cajoling and funny an excellent raconteur but would not let lots go for low bids if the furniture was worth more. He did pass on a couple of lots where the bidding was not reaching the value of the item.

At the end of the auction, we had covered our costs and made some new friends. This was our first auction and we are sufficiently encouraged to try another one putting in place all the lessons we learnt.

The biggest lesson was probably do not hold an auction on a rainy Wednesday evening in October! I think we would try it again in the summer months. And rather than simply send out a flyer, I would send a more personalised invitation with an RSVP for more commitment.

Despite our best efforts, we found it difficult to get good photographs and have them published in a catalogue prior to the auction. A greater lead time prior to the auction would have helped and next time we would give ourselves longer to get the auction lots together. We found 53 lots a reasonable number but I would change the character of the lots next time. Instead of having predominantly large furniture, I would have more of the smaller lots. Looking at the prices of the items sold, much of the furniture went at prices lower than we would have wanted but the smaller, bric-a-brac items went for much more!

Already planning the next auction in June 2018!

Where to find Furnistore:


Holmethorpe Industrial Estate,

34 Holmethorpe Avenue


Surrey RH1 2NL

01737 773133


Furnistore Auction Beatles Furnistore Auction  Beatles Front Furnistore East Surrey Chinese Wardrobes 

Left to right: Beatles LP (Back and Front), Chinese Wardrobes

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