an auction -- play a key role in Whelchel's model, accounting for 40 percent of all bids.
There was no sniping on eBay Live, since bidding on eBay ended the day before the live auction.
During auctions conducted by Estate Road Show, bidders at the three online venues compete against each other and those on the auction floor. Typically consisting of about 300 lots offered on a Sunday, the auction generates 4,000 to 6,000 bids from people in more than 70 countries, with 60 percent of the bids coming from eBay.
One reason for the success has been strong demand. "People want estate items, collectibles," Whelchel said.
There's a lot involved in bringing an item to auction. Each listing generally contains at least 11 different photographs, showing various angles, marks and details. A team of 20 or more experts researches the value. The listing is then posted on the online auctions, where each lot has a starting price of 99 cents and no reserve. After the sale, Estate Road Show handles the shipping, which Whelchel described as having affordable rates with no surcharge. No buyer's premium is charged to eBay or floor bidders, although buyers on AuctionZip and Artfact pay extra. All merchandise has a money-back guarantee.
It all adds up.
"We've seen four or five times the bid flow coming in versus what was on eBay in the past," Whelchel said.
Prices have also increased, with Estate Road Show final bids that are 40 percent to 50 percent higher than the same merchandise offered by other eBay sellers. The difference is that many people watch Estate Road Show auctions online from start to finish, often bidding with their hearts rather than their heads. The result is what Whelchel calls "emotional buying," comparable to a person getting caught up in the bidding at a traditional auction.
A reproduction Buddy-L International Harvester truck proved the point, according to Whelchel. The truck was sold during an Estate Road Show toy auction for $610 to an eBay bidder, although six duplicates of the vehicle were available on eBay at the same time for $300. "This shows the difference between the 'normal' eBay and 'live' eBay, where eBay members log on using our Timed-Snipe-Live bidding app and bid over a five-hour period, live, based on what they see and like, instead of googling each item to get the best price," Whelchel noted. "Impulsive buying is one of the reasons we can getter better prices."
Collectors overseas are also helping out. "We have a lot of international buyers," Whelchel said. "The reason they like doing business with us is they like the eBay protection. We're seeing a huge increase in international business."
Whelchel differentiates his business from that of a traditional seller of antiques and collectibles. "You've got tag sales, auctioneering, retail and us."
How merchandise is acquired also distinguishes Whelchel's company from many auction houses. Consignments are accepted, with sellers paying the eBay fees plus a commission, usually 25 percent. However, Whelchel and his