No buyer’s premium for this company

The discussion of buyer’s premiums is always a controversial subject. For those of you who haven’t attended an auction that has one, a buyer’s premium is an additional charge levied on the purchase price of an item. The money goes straight to the auction house.

Buyer’s premiums have been around a long time but it’s just been the last few years that they have trickled their way down to the small country auction or those held regularly in larger cities. I’ve paid buyer’s premiums as low as 3 percent to as high as 25 percent.

If you notice, the prevalence of buyer’s premiums has increased in lock step with the development of the Internet and the downfall in the economy.

Auctioneers have been hit with a double whammy. Their customers have changed the way they shop for antiques (late at night in their pajamas on the Web) and the overall drop in demand for their bread and butter inventory (common antiques in average condition).

This week we highlight an auction business that doesn’t charge any fees because of their unique way of handling its inventory. “We never will have a buyer’s premium or set a reserve,” Canton Barn owner Richard Wacht said. “Why should I charge money to the people who help me make my living?”

Richard, and his business partner Susan (his ex-wife), buy each piece outright. Not every auction house can do this, but it is one way the two keep costs low enough to avoid charging an extra fee.

I’d love to hear your stories about your favorite auction house. What do they do to keep you coming back?

We have a winner!

Congratulations go to Stan Boulware of Harristown, Ill., for winning the Antique Trader/Red Wing Collectors Society Sweepstakes. Boulware receives a $150 gift package, which includes two Red Wing stoneware commemoratives and an annual membership in the Red Wing Collectors Society.

The sweepstakes for July is a two-volume library of author Kathy Flood’s jewelry reference books as well as a green and teal crystal Christmas tree brooch as shown on the cover of “Warman’s Costume Jewelry Figurals.” This prize valued at $150 can be yours if you register  by July 31 at sweepstakes.AntiqueTrader.com. ?

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