What its like to Attend a Police Auction?

While perusing the EBC website, I came across a notice about a Police Auction taking place at Reid’s Auction house, on Saturday June 2 at 10:00am. As it turns out, Reid’s hosts a monthly Police Auction on the first Saturday of every month. They have a viewing the day before from 10am to 4pm and on Saturday the first items auctioned are always the bicycles.

Just before lunch on Friday, I snuck out of the office and drive over to Reid’s a few blocks away to check out what kind of bikes they were auctioning off tomorrow. Once inside the building, I looked at a beat up Specialized Rockhopper, while listening to the lady at the counter explain to another person, about what occurs on Saturday.

  •  “Tomorrow morning, you will come in here, and stand in a lineup of people. Its best to get here before 10am, so that you don’t miss out on the first items auctioned. You will show your Provincial Driver’s License or ID Card. They will register you for the auction as a bidder and you will receive your bidding card and number. Then you are eligible to participate in the auctions as a bidder.” 

Fairly simple, I thought as I pursued the next five mountain bikes: a Rocky Mountain, a Norco, two CCMs and an Intense downhill full-suspension mountain bike. I wrote down a few notes and took a few photographs of the bikes I intended to research to be prepared for the auction tomorrow morning.

Of the 22 bikes on hand, two were of interest to me;

  1. Haro Dew, cyclocross, with Shimano SLX gears, rugged road tire bikes an a rear pannier rack. It had a 2×10 Shimano drive train, deore shifters and seemed to be very clean. The wheels spun near true and the brakes were flawless
  2. Rocky Mountain, intermediate mountain bike with Shimano XLT gears, knobby 26″ dirt tires, a 1×10 Shimano drive train, XLT shifters and was missing the rear brake pads for the hydraulic brake disc

On Saturday, I arrived about 9:30am, and found the lineup of people. Just as the lady yesterday had described. Standing in line, I listened to the murmur of bidders talking to their friends and others whom were looking over the merchandise before the auction began.

With a brief explanation from the lady at the counter on how the bidding process works, I took my bidders card and held it in my pocket, as I moved around like the others milling about until the auction began.

Nearing 10 o’clock, I stood in front of a glass display case, off to the auctioneer’s right. I figured the clearest path between him and me, would result in a good bidding sequence, if it came to a bidding war, on one of the two bikes I was interested in.

The bikes would come from my left, be pulled in front of the crowd, bids placed, and the person with the highest bid would win the bike. I decided to stand and observe how the auction took place, learning from those who were winning and those who were not.

The auctioneer after several bikes had passed through explained some finer points on if you are the highest bidder. As he would call out your number, make eye contact with you, followed by your bid price. If he keeps eye contact with you, you are the winning bidder. “Because why would I look at you if you aren’t the person who is winning?”

Several more bikes went through, as I watched the red and black Rocky Mountain, mountain bike be pulled up in front of the crowd. The pullers would tell the auctioneer about the bike, in the most simple terms:

  • Mountain bike. Rocky Mountain. Shimano brakes. Hydraulic brakes

The bidding started at $100, and escalated quickly past my thresh hold of $300, as it climbed to $425, $475, $500, $510, $525, and settled at the $550 dollars. I was dumbfounded that a bike which sold retail at $775 and needed a lot of work to bring it up to a decent restoration, would go for such a high price.

About fifteen minutes later the second bike, I was interested in showed up on the auction block. The Haro Dew. Again the pullers stated the obvious about the bikes features:

  • Haro. Commuter bike. Rear rack. Shimano gears

The bidding started out quicker than the Rocky Mountain bike, $150, shouted someone behind me. Followed by an onslaught of hands going up, and the auctioneer nodding and speaking in his quick voice. Before I could get my bid card out of my pocket another guy shouted out in front of me, “SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS!” Is this guy nuts? I thought as the next person bid even higher than the first, $750, $800, $900 the bikes’ price rose until it settled on a bidder at $925

I sighed, then chuckled knowing that both bikes I was interested in, in the end sold at auction, for nearly $200 off their new retail prices. Without stopping, I pushed through the crowd and out into the midmorning day light.  My pockets still full of cash and an experience in auction house, bidding in my pocket too.