Steve Turney's Brandon Auction see steady business
BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 6:58 AM
Not much that comes into Steve Turney's Brandon Auction surprises him these days.
Not even the two canes being sold at an estate auction earlier this month, one that contained a hidden knife and the other that had an empty glass vial, supposedly for hiding a few ounces of alcohol.
"Not too long ago we even sold a Porsche in here," Turney said. "We get a little bit of everything. After a while, you know what to look for and you get a pretty good idea of what everything is going to sell for."
Each weekend, 300 to 500 hopeful buyers follow Turney on a three- to four-hour adventure as he unloads a myriad of jewelry, weapons, antiques, furniture and nearly anything else that comes into the door, all available to the highest bidder.
The action can be intense, with items starting for just a few dollars being bid up to eventual sale prices in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
The buyers range from retail resellers and antique dealers to regular folk hoping to snag a furniture set for a fraction of its store selling price, or purchase a diamond ring for far less than the appraisal.
The auction business, Turney said, has been steady in the last five years despite recession pressures that have hit nearly every sector of the retail economy.
"When things get rough, more people may look to sell their things and prices might go down a little, but there are just as many people out there looking for a deal," Turney said.
Several kinds of auction houses operate around Tulsa but mainly those that deal in automobiles and real estates.
The old-fashioned general goods auction are limited to Brandon Auction at 12835 E. 11th St., and Southside Auction at 1507 E. 71st St., which has been operating since the 1950s.
The industry has become more popular with the rise of Internet auction giant eBay in the 1990s and recently with the Discovery Channel reality show "Auction Kings," which conducts its business in much the same way as local auctioneers.
Turney, who has honed his crisp auctioneering voice over the decades, started working at the Tulsa auction for his grandfather, B.L. Brandon, in 1984.
Brandon started the shop in 1960, selling odds and ends and eventually building it into a staple for bargain hunters in east Tulsa.
After buying the business from his grandfather in the late 1980s, Turney has expanded it from a one-room operation to a 21,000-square-foot fluid sale, where truckloads of merchandise are brought in early during the week and are gone within days. Then, the process starts again.
A small staff of four full-time employees helps sort through the goods, while about a dozen more part-time workers help with the main events during the Saturday morning auctions.
"Most of what we get comes from real estates," Turney said. "During one estate auction most everything comes from just two or three properties. It's amazing what some of these old places have."
Families and lawyers use the auction services to liquidate a home after a death, trying to sell a house full of goods in a few hours instead of the weeks it would take to get rid of it individually.
"I tell people that if they want to get the absolute most money for their things, this isn't the place," Turney said. "I can give them a good idea what they're going to get, but what we offer is a quick sale."
Brandon Auction, like other establishments, takes a 20 percent cut of the final sales total.
The auction house has also started working with furniture wholesalers to bring in living room, bedroom and dining room sets. Turney added that part to the business five years ago and now holds a new-furniture auction about once a month.
Consigners can bring in merchandise for another monthly "Super Saturday Auction."
Turney said he tries to make the auctions as friendly as possible to buyers, not setting any minimum bids on merchandise.
"We have to keep things moving along," Turney said. "Sometimes you can tell the audience is losing interest and you just have to let items go, no matter what the price."
General goods auction house
12835 E. 11th St.
Owner: Steve Turney
Employees: 4 full-time
Upcoming Tulsa area auctions
10 a.m. Saturday
12835 E. 11th St.
Southside Auction Co.
7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21
1507 E. 71st St.
Enlow Tractor & Equipment Auction
8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6
9000 New Sapulpa Road
Original Print Headline: Auction business growing
Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380
Auctioneer Steve Turney calls out a bid on a necklace at his business, Brandon Auction, in east Tulsa. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Brandon Auction owner and auctioneer Steve Turney begins the day by auctioning jewelry before moving on to other items to be sold at his business in east Tulsa. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World