LAST CALL....SOLD! Auction house a bargain hunter's trove

Photo by Rebecca Long

Photo by Rebecca Long

It could be said that Samantha Patrick is more or less in the family business: selling stuff to the highest bidder.

Patrick opened Little Red Wagon Auctions, on East Second Street just off the Square in downtown Jackson, in September. Three nights a week, she sells just about anything that finds its way through the door.

"Every night is a different night," she said. "I tell people to come on all nights because you never know what's going to go through here."

On a recent Thursday, Patrick was selling an assortment of collectable coins -- Indian head pennies, wheat pennies, Franklin half-dollars, Eisenhower dollars -- and paper certificates.

Before long, the coin collectors and dealers in attendance were joined by regulars at the auction house, looking to see what was on the block that night. Patrick knows many of the bidders by number, if not by name.

The items up for sale included silver jewelry, glassware, a cookie jar shaped like a cow, some lamps, a radar detector and at one point, an old laundry basket.

"I warn people, be careful what you bid on because you just might end up taking it home," Patrick joked with the crowd.

Part show biz, part crowd control, Patrick moves through individual auctions at a break-neck pace. She said her grandfather was an auctioneer, and she had cousins in the business.

She graduated from the North Georgia School of Auctioneering in Rome in 2007 and got a state auctioneer's license in 2008. She said she also has a real estate license, in case she has an opportunity to auction off a home. According to the Georgia Secretary of State's Office, which oversees the licensing of auctioneers through the Georgia Auctioneers Commission, there are just over 1,000 licensed auctioneers in the state.

Patrick said she started her auction career through eBay, and eventually found herself going to an auction house near her home where she was offered a job helping out. "From there, it was kind of like an addiction," she said.

Little Red Wagon Auctions takes a 20 percent commission on the sales, and a 10 percent buyer's premium, meaning the house gets 30 percent of each sale. If an item on the auction block isn't drawing much interest, it's quickly paired with another item and offered up again.

As she calls the auctions at lightning speed, Patrick scans the crowd for signs of a higher bid -- a subtle nod, a slightly raised hand. "I got $2 all over the house," she said during one coin auction. "Who'll give me three?"

Howard Cline, of Griffin, said he found out about Little Red Wagon through the popular online marketplace, Craigslist. He said he's been going to auctions since 1982, and that he's mainly interested in line trimmers, blowers and other lawn equipment, but he sometimes bids on coins.

"You never know what you're going to get at an auction," he said.

Jimmy Odom, a wholesale coin dealer from Conyers, walked away with a number of coins Thursday. "Here, I'm looking for what we call grade coins -- something that can be resold," he said.

David Hill runs a flea market in Jones County. He said he looks for items at Little Red Wagon he can sell at the flea market or at other auctions. "I haven't missed a Thursday, Friday or Saturday yet," he said. "No, that's wrong. I missed one Saturday."

Hill said Patrick has a knack for running auctions. "She'll be firm, when she needs to be," he said.