The Individual Approach: Quinn’s Auction Galleries and expert Dale Sorenson head Atlantique City

While global reach is the trademark of so many mega-auction houses in the world today, it is the personal touch that has led to the rapid rise of Quinn’s Auction Galleries and Waverly Rare Books, formerly Waverly Auctions, in Falls Church, Va.

A relative newcomer – only 12 years old – to the auction business, Quinn’s has quickly risen through the ranks of regional auction houses to present a variety of catalog and rare book sales as well as continuing the weekly Wednesday night sales that it built it’s reputation on. The result? An auction company that is comfortable selling a $150,000 snuff bottle, but that also knows that sometimes its customers need simple things presented in a simple sale.

“We really address the needs of the individual,” said Matt Quinn, who joined his father Paul, and brother David, in the family business in 2001 after a major fire destroyed the company’s first headquarters. “As we continue to get bigger, we remind ourselves every day why we do what we do.”

paul_dale_david.jpgWith annual sales getting close to the $4M mark – helped by the 2004 acquisition of Waverly Auctions, now trading as Waverly Rare Books – Quinn’s faces the challenge of keeping that close relationship to its customers while trying to stay competitive in the global marketplace.

“It’s very difficult, there’s no doubt,” Quinn said. “Integral to the our personal approach is our ability to focus on the needs of our consignors in a ways that the big houses can’t. That means we can sell items between $5 and $1000 every Wednesday night or $300 to $150,000+ at our 5 catalogue sales each year, depending on the needs of the consignor and merchandise.”

That focus has also led Quinn’s to diversify its customer service, in the last three years Quinn’s has added real estate services and a comprehensive top to bottom estate consignment. This approach allows families to take what they want and leave the rest to Quinn’s who contracts with charitable organizations, trash companies, and even a cleaning crew. This wrinkle, new to the business in an age when many baby boomers are dealing with the aging, downsizing or death, of their parents and with the housefuls of stuff – some antique and some not – that comes with that challenge.

Quinn’s Comprehensive Estate Services allow the consignors to deal with the important legal and family issues that come up, while Quinn’s and its experts take the worry out of buying, selling or donating the goods that come out of a house, and ready that house for sale, list it and sell it.

Motivated by the need to grow its business as much as by its desire to thoughtfully serve its community, the formula has made Quinn’s a formidable mid-Atlantic presence. This presence has also been bolstered of late by the firm’s sponsorship of Krause Publication’s Atlantique City Antiques Show, Sat. and Sun., Oct. 20 and 21, at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Not only does Quinn’s have a significant presence at the show with its sponsorship, but the firm’s Director of Waverly Rare Book Auctions Dale Sorenson – himself a noted and widely respected expert on maps, prints, books and autographs – works as an appraiser in the appraisal area of the show on both Saturday and Sunday, providing his expertise to showgoers on their family treasures.

The double presence of Sorenson and the sponsorship has put the Quinn’s brand front and center in the minds of many attendees, which furthers the firm’s buzz via word of mouth and varied world and Internet media exposure.

“It’s good for people to know we’re out there and how we operate,” said Matt, “and put ourselves in front of much larger, concentrated audience.”

With as many as 10,000 people and more spreading out across the show floor over the course of the two days of Atlantique City, Quinn’s has made sure its personal approach easily translates to that much larger audience.

If you want more information on Quinn’s upcoming weekly or catalogue sales, look for the banners at Atlantique City, Oct. 20 and 21 at the Atlantic City Antiques Show, call 703-532-5632, or go online to