Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a story about Koogler Auctions’ 100th anniversary in business. Look for Part 1 in Saturday’s Xenia Gazette.
XENIA — When you look back 100 years, you know that things has changed. Now you drive your car to your job, not your horse and buggy. Babe Ruth is now a baseball legend instead of a pitcher for the Providence Grays minor league team before making his Major League debut with the Red Sox. What is now commonplace, an eight-hour work day, was established by the Ford Motor Company with guarantee daily wage of $5.
But one thing hasn’t changed — you can still hire Koogler Auctions to conduct an estate sale.
Koogler Auctions held its first sale on March 6, 2014, as Earl Koogler, known by all as “The Colonel,” conducted an auction on North Fairfield Road. He was later joined in the business by his son, Everett, in 1950. Everett’s son, Garry, came aboard in 1983.
Garry Koogler said that the company is there, but it’s not business as it was in Grandpa’s day. He said the auction, as a whole, have changed over the years.
“Years ago, when Dad and Grandpa used to have sales, that was a social event,” he said. “I mean, they’d have sales on Saturdays, the big day, everybody and their brother, all the neighbors would come in, whether they wanted to buy anything or not. They were there at the sales because it was a social event. And they weren’t worried about time or anything like that. The churches would do the lunches, good home cooking and all that stuff. Now if a church wants to do that, they have to be inspected by the health department and all that stuff.
“I can remember as a kid growing up, going with the sales that Grandpa and Dad had and it was fun,” Garry continued. “A bunch of us kids would get together and play football and stuff. They’d be having a sale and people would just have fun.”
Both Koogler and auctioneer Dave Beam said the number of auctioneers out there is growing.
“There are a lot of auctioneers out there now,” Garry said. “The competition, I won’t say it’s tough. You do have certain people who off certain things that other people don’t. And you can advertise as much as you want in the yellow pages and what have you, but the best form of advertising is still word of mouth.”
“Nothing is better than a very pleased client or person you’ve done a sale for,” Beam added.
“I learned in college,” Garry said, “that for every person you’ve satisfied with your service, they’ll tell two people. For every person that is dissatisfied, they’ll tell 11.”
Everett said he thinks the sales now days take more of the auctioneer’s time.
“We didn’t have to set up,” he said. “We’d sell one piece at a time. Then people accumulate so much stuff, you have to sell box lots now or you’d never get done. You have to go set ‘em up and everything and it costs you a lot of money to have an auction today.
“Some of these estates, Garry has to buy them out. That’s very expensive. You have to go box it up, put it in your truck, unload it, rent a place some times. The fairgrounds rental isn’t cheap.”
“They don’t want to go through the expense of an auction so I buy them out,” Garry nodded. “Then we auction it off ourselves.”
Auctions are totally different, Garry and Everett said again.
“People used to set up their own sales back when Dad and Grandpa did sales,” Garry said. “And they (Earl and Everett) would come there that day, pretty much, and sell it. Now people are too busy (to set up themselves).”
The method of running a sale has changed, too. Where as in the old days, you started small and built to a climax with the big items, now you strategize for the best effect.
“We were taught in school that you have four hours,” Beam said. “That’s about the max to hold the attention of the initial crowd. After that they start wandering.”
Garry’s formula is to start with a flash.
“What I like to do is, that first item I sell, I want a good item up there to set the precedent for the rest of the sale,” he said. “It wakes people up. If you sell something that is $300-$400-$500 to start, they’re like ‘Woe… If I want to bid on something, I better get my hand up because it’s going to be a little tougher today.’
“We usually sell furniture at noon,” Garry continued. “People who are furniture buyers know that. They’ll come 10:30, 11 o’clock to the sales. Dad and Grandpa used to hold the furniture back till the end. but people stayed at the sales. They didn’t leave. If we did that now, it would be like five people left to do the furniture.
“It’s just definitely changed.”
They’ve found, however, history can repeat itself.
“There’ve been times,” Beam said, “where they’re selling things that they’ve already sold.”
“There was a Ford tractor that we’ve sold three times and the price went up every time,” he said. “Dad sold it to one guy years ago, and he remembered how much it sold for back then. Then we did an auction for him and sold it. The guy who bought the farm also bought the tractor to keep it on the farm. Well, we then did a sale two years ago, and we sold that tractor again. It’s funny.”
He also told a story about a house across from the Alpha post office, a large brick home where the Kooglers have held four sales over the years – for four different people.
“I sold dishes from 10 o’clock to 4 that day,” Everett laughed. “That lady had a lot of dishes!”
Garry said one sale included an object that involved his grandfather.
“At a sale, we had a buggy rope that Grandpa (Earl) had sold to these people in 1956,” he said. “They told me the story. So I’m up there telling the buggy rope. It was only at 20 or 25 bucks.
“And I stopped and I told the people the story about grandpa,” Garry said with a sniff. “I’m going to get emotional, I’m a sentimental slob — about grandpa selling this to them back in 1956. It brought $150.”
William Duffield can be reached at 937-372-4444 ext. 133 or on Twitter @WilliamDuffield.