Before eBay became a buzz word, there were regular public auctions. Now, Barbados is technically up there, but it still has auctions. Not of great treasures found in attics or under beds, but of the stuff that Americans dispose of each week through yard sales. I took a little visit to one today (David's Auctions, in Black Rock). I managed to sell something before the auction began as a wily man heard me asking about how to place items and how the commission works, and quickly engaged me in a negotiation, which saw two of us happy to trade a cordless telephone that I did not want and he clearly did. I got enough for lunch; and unlike a gambler, I did not immediately look for some bad item to waste it on.
Inside the auction were a group of no more than 20 people, mostly older Bajan women. Most are regulars as their names are known by the auctioneer. A few newbies had to spell out their names. What is on offer? From what I saw, not a great deal. A set of new kitchen sponges; glue sticks; mismatched china; assorted tools; bungee cords;
cast off electronics; some fridges; antique furniture. I did not have time today to sit and see how bidding went on the 300 odd items on sale: the smaller items go first. Maybe I should have bid on the Monopoly and Tiddlywinks set. I could not deal with the tension of leaving a bid on an item and waiting for a call to confirm if I would be the proud owner of [....]. Most items seem to go for B$10-15, though someone went crazy bidding B$30 for a leather bound decanter and two attached glasses. Cans of spray paint seemed to fetch high prices and I wondered if some of these seniors were part of graffiti gang.
For sure, eBay gives the sense of success when that useless toaster gets sold for more than you paid for it, because you happen to hit on a Procter-Silex buff who needed one to finish a collection. But real auctions are more fun! It's funny to check out eBay for what items related to Barbados are on sale: lots of coins and stamps, but also a PanAm 1990 destination tag
True, someone is also trying to sell a "Barbados" bedroom set for over US$2000 (no bids yet), and if it does not sell on eBay, I feel it won't appear in Black Rock next week. Some of the antiques in David's auction could fit out some plantation houses nicely, so I won't laugh off those who are there patiently waiting for their bargains. I don't know if the fans of David's go to other auctions; it could be addictive for some people. I'll limit myself to at most once a week.
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