While driving through East Maryville, the recently removed auction sign in front of Eagleton Hardware has likely caused concern for drivers who regularly navigate the busy thoroughfare.
A business liquidation auction? In an establishment with only a handful of parking spaces along a narrow strip that reinforces one of the two busiest streets in the city? Cars coming in, trying to back up, while a guy inside yells “50, 50, 50, do I hear 60?” Can I hear 60? âInto a microphone?
However, such images could have been enough to make these drivers forget the most important detail: “online only”. That, said Jerry DeLozier – part owner of DeLozier Realty and Auction in Maryville, which handled the liquidation of the assets of Eagleton Hardware – accounts for 99% of the group’s business these days. Sure, he and co-owner Kevin Ross, as well as his son Austin DeLozier, can bid with the best of themâ¦ but the internet has made the process much more streamlined and allowed an institution like DeLozier to stay in business even at through the financial woes of COVID, Ross recently told the Daily Times.
âBack then, when you had an auction before the Internet, it was a strictly local thing,â he said. âNow, by sitting down with a client, we can explain to them how we can expose an online auction to so many buyers. With COVID, many of our auctioneer friends who had not merged with the online method went out of business for a year or more. “
“We were lucky,” admitted Jerry DeLozier. âWe love live auctions and we were very good at it. We always put them up and do them, and we love seeing a lot of different people. It is not something that we have completely given up on. But most of our business is now done online.
The elder DeLozier started as an auctioneer in 1992, after growing up on a dairy farm in the 13 Curves area of ââSevierville Road. In 1994 he entered the real estate business, and he and Ross graduated from the Nashville Auction School and have a Masters in Auction from Indiana University. The latter, Ross said, helped them prepare for the world of online auctions, while the former was a sort of auction “boot camp.”
âIt’s nine days of rigorous training and learning about bidding and all facets of an auction business,â Ross said. âWe could teach someone how to tender in a week. It’s the flashy part, but there’s more to it. The commercial aspect is even more intense and our training has taught us how to manage and maintain all aspects of sales and auctions for clients.
For the Eagleton Hardware liquidation, Austin and his team spent several weeks recording the contents of the store. Since this was an online sale, the team had to catalog everything before determining how the items were to be sold.
âWe have to find out what we have, put it together and photograph it,â Ross said. âWe match the items so that everything sells. If there’s something you can’t sell on your own, you combine it with similar items in a bundle to make it more appealing. For example, in a house sale, you wouldn’t sell a coffee mug on its own, but if you put 15 or 20, you can get a reasonable bid.
âPeople thought of an auction as a clearance sale, but in today’s market, especially with online auctions, it’s a fast-track marketing method. We recently sold a few Model A cars that went to Long Beach, CA because with the online auction we can reach people all over the world.
The same is true, he added, for the real estate side of the business. As part of the MarkNet Alliance, DeLozier can post its listings in all 50 states, and it’s not unusual in this market for buyers as far away as California to call for a potential property for sale in Blount County. Likewise, they have taken care of the local residents who leave Blount County with some personal effects and hand over the keys to Ross and DeLozier.
âWe had a guy who married a lady in Arizona, and he took his belongings and went out west to be with his new wife and left the details to us,â Ross said. âUntil we could get it ready for the auction, we took care to make sure the lawn was mowed and even things like a truck won’t start, can we make it work? Because if we can, he will get a better price.
Case in point: the 1994 Ford Econoline van of Eagle Hardware owner Mike Miller, which sat in the parking lot for years. Ross and DeLozier ventilated the flat tires and installed a new ignition switch, and the pickup was sold at auction. It was, added Jerry DeLozier, the responsibility of his business – as a sales steward, but more importantly as corporate and private citizens of the community in which he has spent his entire life.
âIt’s very personal for us,â he said. âWe know it’s someone’s livelihood, and we want to go out there and do the best job possible. We come in and take care of the items as if they were our own. “We try to have a lot of respect for what we do, and for someone like Mike it’s an honor for us to come in and go through the process of selling these items for him.”
Steve Wildsmith was editor and writer for The Daily Times for almost 17 years and continues to work as a freelance on entertainment-related topics, local performances, and East Tennessee artists. Contact him at [email protected]