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
Atlanta really felt like we were in the deep south, especially at the auction. All the security guards had guns; some had their pistols in the holsters with the hammers cocked. I knew it was my kinda place. I love guns and weapons. I noticed a few of the bidders would nudge Mark to the side; it was an aggressive auction. The auctioneer was straight-forward …no funny business. They even held a prayer meeting before the start of the auction, something I have never seen at an auction. I knew there was something to be found, that’s why I was so happy about the WW2 trunks. Overall, people were very friendly but they did not let us forget we were in the South and that we were Yankees…
– Billy Leroy
Indy was lots of fun; the pre-Super Bowl energy was intense. When I was waiting in line, it seemed like I was going to a gun show rather than an airport auction. The auction was heavily advertised and only 200 hundred people were supposed to show up, but 1000 showed and it was a real madhouse. Luckily for me, a beautiful blond women sat next to me, which was a plus because she looked up an item on her iPhone for me. The auction was intense and I bid on jewelry bags and luggage. The highlight was having a fan ask for my autograph for the first time! His name is Chris Cloud, a NASCAR collector. The people of Indianapolis were very friendly.
Right after we finished day 3 of filming in Miami this week, Sally, Laurence and I were walking back from dinner when we saw a totally white bunny with a collar sitting in the grass. As we looked closer we noticed its two front paws were stuck in its collar. We all agreed we could not leave the bunny in this awful state, so Laurence jumped over the bush and took the collar off. The joy that emanated from the bunny was priceless. We also concluded that rather than call animal control and have the bunny put in a cage, we should let it go free. Since there are other rabbits running around it will certainly make friends … the whole experience was supernatural.
– Billy Leroy
Laurence and I had never had a chance to visit Indianapolis before. When the Indianapolis International Airport’s annual auction came up, we jumped at the chance. What a wonderful place and what awesome people! I now understand what the term “Hoosier Hospitality” means. The people we met were some of the friendliest and generous we had ever had the chance to meet! The weather was freezing and it actually snowed the morning of the auction.
This auction is held in an actual airplane hangar. Chairs were set up for about 200, the normal attendance. Who knew that the auctioneers would promote the event so well? There were over a thousand folks in line … all bundled up to keep out the cold … and all very anxious to get in. The auctioneers were running a bit late, so at one point the folks in line (including Laurence) started yelling, “Open the door!!!” As we all filed in we were able to begin to take a look at the items up for sale. There were so many bidders that the auction had to start before everyone could get in and the preview could be completed. Since there we no seats available, people were standing shoulder to shoulder everywhere!
We saw baggage, electronics, toys and bags of jewelry… the stuff we’ve grown to expect. However, in this auction there were actually some cool antiques and collectibles! We saw, and almost bid on, a vintage false teeth manufacturing equipment set. Just what the dentist ordered! Unfortunately, by the time it came up we had already spent our budget for the auction. Bummer. There were also old bottles, meat grinders, collectible figurines, etc. We set our eyes on a most unusual antique parlor organ. It came with a collection of 16 cobs, the cylinders that play different music. Just how did we do? Hmmmm … you’ll have to take a look I’m afraid!
– Sally Martin
The airport auction was unique because it was actually held in a huge aircraft hangar. There were rumors of about 200 bidders in attendance and that estimate was way low. I remember the setting: huge turbines, aircraft mechanic tool boxes worth a couple hundred thousand dollars, and 1,000 people in attendance. There were hundreds of lots as usual – luggage, electronics, antiques, jewelry. The attendance was unprecedented for the show because of the local press reporters. That morning at 6am I read the local press coverage before I left for the auction. I read an article that a popular violinist saw her instrument that she lost several months back on the road. The press had talked about the more unusual items at the auction. Of course the item was pulled and returned to the musician. It was worth over $500+ and I was disappointed I couldn’t bid on it. Regardless it was a great article to read since she got what was rightfully hers. It got me focused coming into the auction; I was ready to work hard on auction day and take down the prize. As for what goes on in the auction, I’d rather leave that for the show
– Mark Meyer
London could not been more the polar opposite of Miami. The auctioneer ruled with an iron fist. The crowd was reserved and they were not crazy about cameras being there. My favorite moment was when I opened one of the bags I bid on. One of the things you have to get used to in London after a long trip is to remember is that the cars drive on the left side of the road; I had a close call when I was leaving Greasby’s. It was almost the final curtain call. Greasby’s really has that Old London feeling to it, like 1950′s English Gangster films. The characters that handle the auction, the porters, are a tough lot but they have a keen eye for swindlers. But like all auctions, once the action starts it’s all business. The quality of the merchandise was better than Miami, but so was the competition. Another important thing was getting used to the heavy East End accent of our Auctioneer.
– Billy Leroy
Miami was like being in a carnival. The crowd was rowdy and they seemed to love the cameras. It was my 1st auction with the Baggage Battles team; I did not know what to expect from them. As the auction progressed, all bets were off. Mark was a real swinger when it came to spending money which surprised me because he is only 25. Laurence and Sally have been around the block and it was clear she had to control her husband’s enthusiasm to bid. My favorite moment was when the painting of Che Guevara came up …the entire room erupted into one giant BOO! That’s when I was compelled to say $1 as my bid; the crowds’ good nature erupted into laughter.
– Billy Leroy