Local Business News on the Southern Oregon Coast
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BUSINESS OF THE WEEK:
Wilbur Auctions and Winston Now N Then Antique Mall
By Lisa Carroll, Staff Writer 
Wilbur Auctions and Winston’s Now N Then Antique Mall are owned and operated by Larry and Tracy Hill, who met 16 years ago at an auction they were each attending. They started Wilbur Auction about the same time they were married. Larry will tell you he’s been doing auctions for 29 years, but if you get him talking, you’ll soon find out he’s been a picker his whole life, having learned the art from his Dad. “My Dad is half Ute Indian, and he’d been doing it since he was a kid," Larry shares. "He ran across the business as a boy collecting old bottles to sell from dumps outside of Provo, Utah. I was 8 years old when I started wheeling and dealing with my Dad, who was dealing in antiques and Indian artifacts by then.”

Most people contact an auctioneer at pivotal times in their lives, such as a death in the family. When relatives pass way, sometimes an estate is left behind with several outbuildings that families stored stuff for generations. It can be overwhelming just to think about the chore of having to sort through it all, and sometimes people are tempted to just throw it all out. Larry encourages people to have somebody come and look at their stuff before they decide to toss it because you really just never know. “And whatever you do, don’t throw away anything like old user manuals and stuff like that. Some of those are collectable, and you can make money,” he shared. Larry offers free estimates, and does not charge an hourly rate, nor does he deal with buyer’s premiums. Larry instead goes “old-school”, taking a flat 30% of whatever the total sale is. “Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose,” he says. “But almost every time you do an auction, there is a runaway item that brings more than you thought it was worth.”

Wilbur Auction and Now N Then mascots Dora and Tigger rest after a hard days work of picking, auctioneering, and running the shop. 

In the course of the conversation, I mentioned I was a fan of some of the “picker” reality shows we see on TV. Larry me told me those shows are an inaccurate portrayal of the picker life. “Most of the TV programs are staged. The people I know that are pickers and all, they don’t go out to a place and pick two or three items and then leave to never come back. They always go back and repeat what they are doing. I’d rather go out and buy everything than buy one or two items.”

Larry explained how his auctions differ from most estate sales. “Estate sales go in and pick out what they want to sell, and there is always stuff left over. With an auction house, we come in and scoop everything up. We sell what we can and dispose of the rest. I can always go back through and find more sell-able stuff. You never know what you will find.” For instance, once Larry found a left-behind box of paper mache pumpkins from the 1920’s-1930’s era that brought in $240. Auctions are quicker, too, over in a day or two. Also, you will probably make more money if you have your stuff auctioned than if you sell it yourself, Larry revealed. “Auctions reach out to people who collect, and at auctions, people usually get wound up in the moment and will pay more than what they usually would. That’s just how it is.”

10 years after starting the auction house, Larry and Tracy opened up Winston’s Now and Then Antique Mall, which is in a huge 13,000 sf of space featuring 60 vendors whose variety of merchandise aptly reflects the wide range of personalities in Douglas county. They have a vendor who specializes in candlesticks, and another in milk jugs. There is horse tack and saddle to be bought, as well as furniture. You can pick up all sorts of jewelry, as well as guns and ammo. There are dishes, glassware, artwork. If you can dream it up, you can probably find it at Winston’s Now and Then Antique Mall.

I have always loved the sound of an auctioneer and was stoked when Larry demonstrated his ability. Auctioneer chanting is an art-form that auctioneers actually go to school to learn the mechanics of. The auction chant is a rhythmic repetition of numbers and slurring “filler words” spoken by an auctioneer in the process of conducting an auction. Once an auctioneer becomes experienced in the auction profession, the auctioneer’s chant develops in a style and character unique to each auctioneer, in regards to unique filler words and the individuals rhythm in delivering the chant.

Winston Now N Then Antique Mall is open 7 days a week, and is located at 124 Douglas Blvd, off of Hwy 42, in Winston, OR. You can find then on Facebook as well. Wilbur Auctions are held Thursdays and Saturdays starting at 5pm, with preview time starting at 12:00 noon . They on-site auction is located at 8005 OLD HIGHWAY 99 N. They have both theater seating and bleacher seating. Larry also does in-house auctions, which are listed as they occur on the website, www.wilburauction.com , or posted in the South Coast Shopper. You can contact Larry at 541-430-2639.

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