School Auction Teaches Business About Bargains
BERLIN CENTER, Ohio – School construction projects in Ohio in recent years have contributed to a growing market segment for a perhaps unexpected beneficiary – auctioneers.
George Kiko, an auctioneer with Russ Kiko Associates Inc., Canton, says his company is doing many auctions for school property including several coming up. “We’ve probably done about 10 or 12 last year for some of the different schools with the new schools being built,” he said.
Kiko was the auctioneer for Monday’s sale of merchandise at the now-vacant Western Reserve Middle School, the first of two auctions his company conducted that day for the schools, which have consolidated to a single K-12 campus, said Debbie Farelli, middle school principal. “We are auctioning off all of the things that we did not take to our new building just down the street,” she said. That meant a selection of items from lockers, shelves, desks and furnishings to wall-mounted television sets, computer monitors and kitchen equipment was on the auction block.
The market for items at these auctions includes charter schools and some smaller schools, Kiko said. “The scrap market is definitely up,” he also said.
Some 200 people were present at the start of the morning auction, and the crowd swelled as others flowed in and out of the room during the course of the two-hour event. By its conclusion, some 100 individuals were present as Kiko called the remainder of the 231 items -- the equipment, seating and even the floor of the gym where the auction took place.
Those who attended the auction included business owners looking to equip or stock their businesses and onlookers simply there to reconnect with old memories.
Bob Semler came away from the auction with a Vulcan pizza oven he purchased for $550 – a far cry from the $4,000 to $5,000 he priced for new units. Last year he opened Island Creek Grille at Berlin Lake and is planning to open for the season in the next 60 days. The oven, which he plans to use for breads, rolls and pizzas, looks to be in good shape, he said.
“Knowing it was with the school system, you know it’s in good working order,” Semler said.
The auction also drew Dragan Tomic from Cleveland. He is planning to open a Mediterranean restaurant in Medina and purchased a dishwasher for $1,000, “a decent price,” he remarked. A new unit would have cost $5,000 to $7,000.
“That was the main thing I came here for. It’s one piece that I am missing at the restaurant."
Frank Lordi, president of ABC Fire Extinguisher Co., Youngstown, also purchased restaurant equipment he believes will be needed by customers looking for “used stuff that is in good shape and meets code,” he said. The event was one of the first school auctions Lordi has attended, and he was surprised at the good condition of the equipment.
“If I can make some money and save somebody some money, you’ve got two happy partners,” Lordi said.
Lana VanAuker of Canfield attended the auction for “the great memories” of the school as well as to potentially bid on some items. She lived in Ellsworth Township for about 10 years and her daughter attended kindergarten here. “So there are some fond memories at this place,” she said. She was also interested in photographing some of the graffiti on the school walls – messages such as “We love you, Mrs. Baird” and “Wow, is this really the end?” – that “could be used on greeting cards,” she said.
Gary Riggs of Ellsworth wanted to come through the school one last time and to see what kinds of deals there might be.
“My grandkids went to school here,” he said. The schools he attended now are “all gone” and the same thing is happening with his grandchildren, he remarked.
“I didn’t expect as many people,” the former school's principal, Farelli, remarked. “We never realize how much the things we had mean to other people. So we’re making some money on it and there’s a lot of traffic here.” She added that some of her teachers will probably be surprised at the selling price for some of the items.
The items sold “very, very strong,” Kiko said, and he hopes the success of the auction would bring referrals from the school system. Schools don’t have the time to do such auctions themselves “so they hire us to come in and tag and organize and get it ready. It’s a nice way to market and liquidate in a hurry,” he said.
Copyright 2012 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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