LL Auctions shifts focus, specializes in online-only sales LL Auctions, based in Dickinson, Tex., has rolled with the economic times by specializing in online-only auctions. The firm offers everything from gently used appliances to antiques and collectibles.
News-Antique.com - Mar 05,2009 - (Dickinson, Tex.) - While the business pages are filled with stories about a collapsed housing market, massive job layoffs and an economy in seeming free-fall, LL Auctions reports it is off to a record start so far for 2009. The firm, based in Dickinson, Tex., just south of Houston, specializes in estates, personal property and business liquidation auctions. Its next big sale will go online April 21, at www.texas-auctions.com. Online bidding is facilitated by software developed especially for the firm.
“We're working 12-to-15 hours a day, seven days a week,” remarked Lisa Gay, owner of LL Auctions. “When the economy started to sag a few years ago, we made the decision to refocus our direction and make more options available to sellers. We began offering online-only auctions, as a way to get more items out to a larger pool of bidders. It's a strategy that worked. Business has exploded.”
Ms. Gay explained that part of her success lies in the fact that, in rough financial times, sellers are plentiful. “Since money is tight,” she said, “people look around for things they can convert into quick cash. They aren't sitting idly by, waiting for a stimulus package that may have little or no effect on them -- if one even comes at all. They need money, and they need it now. That's where we come in.”
LL Auctions first introduced the online-only option about three years ago. And, while the firm still conducts traditional live auctions, the online-only component of its business model has carried it through what has been a rough patch for many other auction houses. “Technology has changed the industry forever,” Ms. Gay said. “Auctioneers who haven't recognized this fact are in for tough times.”
Last year, online-only auctions comprised about 80 percent of LL Auctions' business. For 2009, Ms. Gay estimates that figure will jump to 90 percent. “We are seeing people buy online who had never been to an auction before, but who had heard about us from a friend,” she said. “Folks won't drive 60 miles to sit and wait for that one item to come up for bid. But they will sit at their computers and bid.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, many of LL Auctions' new customers have been younger people, in the coveted 18-35 age range. “This is the generation that grew up with computers and the Internet,” she pointed out. “It only follows they would embrace online auctions. Many have never been to a live auction, and might never attend one, but they're completely comfortable bidding through a computer.”
What may be more surprising is what these new bidders (and many veterans, too) are bidding on. “People are looking for things they need, but they're also looking for bargains,” Ms. Gay said. “Suddenly, that lithograph or figurine that would have sold for big bucks several years ago is taking a back seat to practical, everyday, useful items, like washers, dryers, microwaves and chests of drawers.”
That's right, people are buying gently used washing