California was amazing. The weather was great and the scenery was like I’d never seen before. The warm sun greeted me in the morning while the mountains sat in the distance. Terrain in California is very diverse. You can go from the beach, to the mountains, and arrive in a desert valley within an hour. It was one of the few trips that I spent some time vacationing after the auction was finished.
May, 2012 Archive
LA is what it cracked up to be; it’s seedy and glamorous at the same time. The crowd was huge and rowdy. As in most of these auctions, there was tons of crap to sift through, but the Samurai sword caught my eye. I knew it wasn’t old but I recognized the signature; I was hoping no one else would. Going to the Dojo was an amazing experience. I knew Samurai swords were strong but I never imagined how strong. The art of wielding this weapon is frightening. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a real Japanese Samurai sword! Overall, I loved LA except for the traffic…
– Billy Leroy
New Jersey was a very unique auction to attend. It was truly awesome. The US Customs & Border Protection goods ready for auction were held in old government warehouses. General Order Warehouse has housed these international goods for over 6 months. Foxtrot and Charlie marked the soot covered space. Once you find the area and sign-in, you get to inspect a strange mix of goods. You can buy one wooden door, 3 bicycles, or 14,000 t-shirts size medium, all at the same auction. As a reseller it’s fun and challenging because the variety is so wide and the potential is just as big. Surprisingly the auction is held in a hotel conference room. US Border Patrol agents attend wearing blue and most of the bidders are in suits. There were some big players here; several of them spent over 40k and never broke a sweat. To be able to show up and buy and make a profit is an accomplishment.
Here are updates on some of the finds I uncovered after I trucked the goods back home. There was a Louis Vuitton handbag and belt that I had authenticated later on, Gucci and Coach watches – both real, and Gucci sunglasses that were real. The Tiffany & Co. jewelry shown on the episode was also real. The necklace and bracelet sold for $201. The Louis Vuitton handbag and old antique camera are on display at the Nifty Thrifty.
– Mark Meyer
New Jersey felt like we were in a mafia movie from the 70’s … the customs officers all had guns and the area was under high security. The deals were great, but not many people know about these auctions. I loved bidding on the pallets, because you get a lot for a little. The bikes were a real surprise because they had a real vintage look, and the Buddha is sitting in my home as a good luck charm. One just has to be willing to drive around an industrial wasteland to get the deals; it sure was not Miami but I will go anywhere on earth for deals. That’s what I live for… deals!! Overall, it was a great auction.
– Billy Leroy
This was a journey for the memory books! Neither of us had ever been to New Jersey. We know about Bruce Springsteen, Governor Chris Christie and that housewives show, but we really didn’t know what to expect. What we saw was absolutely spectacular!
We have been importers of antiques and collectibles from all over the world for many years now, but we never had a chance to go down to the docks where the ships come in. What a truly awesome experience! The ships are enormous with hundreds of 40 foot containers (storage units) piled high. We were able to watch the containers being unloaded and moved throughout the docks with incredible equipment. You will get to see this place where the average person never goes in this episode!
And then….the auction! It was a US Customs and Border Protection auction. The items available were pallets of unclaimed imports … clothing, building material, motorized vehicles, personal items and more. When we previewed the merchandise, most of it was wrapped up on a pallet or crated, so what was inside may have only been slightly visible if at all. The pallets go unclaimed because people don’t pay their import duties in a timely manner. When that happens a fee is charged, demurrage, for the days the cargo is detained at the docks. Inevitably the value of the unpaid duties and demurrage exceed the value of the import and the importer abandons the goods. The US Customs and Border Protection conducts auctions of this type on both coasts a couple of times a year. Such a different auction for us, but wait until you see what we unpacked!
- – Sally and Laurence Martin
The last time we were in Atlanta, it was 18 years ago during the month of August. Sally was pregnant with our son, Luke, and her ankles were swollen from the heat. We knew then why they call it “Hotlanta”. This visit was very different though. Luke is older and the weather is milder. This time we are in Atlanta for a new experience … a freight auction! We arrived in the cooler months so had no problems with the “hot” in the “lanta”.
The auction was one like we’d never seen before. It was a huge warehouse with rows upon rows of pallets. Each pallet had all kinds of items shrink-wrapped on it. Some of the things you could see … others you could not. The things that were in this auction ran the gambit: hot tub, automobile, ping pong tables and scores and scores of food, clothing, tools and militaria (some of the things we actually bid on, but didn’t necessarily win.) And what a FUN auction! Marcus, the auctioneer, rode on a mobile platform so that he could see the bidders. He stood high above us and we all just walked up and down every one of the 30 or so aisles, waiting for him to put the items we wanted up for bids. Most of the bidders were there to resell the items they bought, so prices were good. It’s always better for us to win an auction when our competition doesn’t want to take it home and keep it for them!
We were able to win the three Indonesian (not African panels, Billy!), as well as a great pallet with stuff formerly owned by who we thought was a “plumber by day and musician by night”. The golden egg in the lot was a box of record albums. Laurence collects records, so it was a great find for us. One in particular is worth a ridiculous amount as it is very rare. But what you won’t see on air is the KISS picture album that we are going to ask Gene Simmons to sign (he owns a rock ‘n’ roll restaurant/bar in El Segundo)!
- Laurence and Sally Martin