Unusual times call for unusual methods, even when it comes to auction houses.
Just ask Emily Dudley, manager of Dudley’s Auction in Inverness. The COVID-19 pandemic forced her to scrap live auctions for the time being and resort to no-contact online events.
Before the pandemic, Dudley said she was conducting six to 10 live auctions per month with crowds between 100 to 200 people at her gallery off U.S. 41.
“We have readjusted our policies and procedures to be a fully online-only auction company during this time, offering a clean, hands-free auction approach while following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines,” Dudley said.
Product pickups are done by appointment only, with her crew bringing items curbside to clients. Dudley will send videos, photos and other product details via text/phone/email to clients who request more information.
“While we have seen new challenges arise, we are incredibly fortunate that our business model, auction buyers and many sellers have been able to adjust to this hands-off approach,” Dudley said.
Emily’s dad and auction house owner, Robert Dudley, said so far so good.
“It is working, he said. “Revenues are down a little but some of our setup costs are down.”
He’s also been able to keep his staff of six full-time and five part-time employees by redirecting their job duties.
When the pandemic hit, Dudley said he had two or three weeks of auction items accumulated.
“We had to figure out a way to move some of this merchandise,” he said. “We didn’t have storage space to hold anymore.”
Dudley said he’s done occasional online auctions for the past few years on specialty items, but not to this extent.
The auctions include everything from general household items including furniture and hardware to antiques and collectibles. Folks, he said, can take part in the auction from the comfort of their own home.
Dudley said if this online business works out, he may expand on it once the virus scare is over.
“It does open up some new avenues for new customers,” he said. “In the auction business, we have to continually mine for new customers.”
For information about how the process works and to look at the upcoming auctions, visit www.dudleysauction.com.