For 15 years, Mobile native Matt Presley has been rattling off prices and uttering the famous words “Going once, going twice, sold.” The item goes to the highest bidder. His company, Matt Presley Auctioneers, conducts auctions two or three times a month on-site at various homes and businesses.
What are the benefits of purchasing something at an auction?
At a retail store, if anything is priced too high, customers will just walk away. They won’t even try to negotiate. But at an auction, everybody has an opportunity to buy anything. It just depends on how bad they want it.
What happens if someone accidentally bids on a piece?
That doesn’t happen very often. It’s not like people think, that if you scratch your nose or blink your eye that you’ve bid on something. But every now and then, we think someone is bidding, and they’re really not. I always tell folks, if you buy an item and there’s a problem, let us know immediately. Don’t wait till a few hours later, because we’re going to expect you to pay for it.
Do you have any tips for winning when bidding?
Do your homework. Research the things you are interested in buying, because everybody has a different idea of value.
Are you ever asked to recite tongue twisters like “Peter Piper?”
There’s an old one that trains auctioneers how to talk, or “chant” fast. It’s called “Betty Botter.”
Betty Botter bought some butter,
But, she said, the butter’s bitter;
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter,
But a bit of better butter
Will make my batter better.
So she bought a bit of butter
Better than her bitter butter,
And she put it in her batter
And the batter was not bitter.
So ‘twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better butter.
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever auctioned?
I sold a house last year for $300, 000, jewelry before in the more than $10, 000 range. I sold a Corvette a couple of weeks ago for $35, 000.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever witnessed at an event?
Years ago, I did an auction out in Wilmer, and we sold eight peacocks. They were running wild in the farm, and the deal was that when you bought them, you had to catch them. That was pretty funny, watching those guys who bought the peacocks trying to catch them.
Learn more about Matt and his company at mpauctioneers.com.
text by Mallory Boykin • photo by Kathleen Clipper