Arcade Auctions 1
A Day In the Life
- The morning of the auction, you really do not want to have anything to worry about except for getting to the auction and having a good time. So, a little preperation can help you have a great experience. The auction day is a long and somewhat tireing experience. So, plan to be there for a while (8ish in the am to start, and can go all the way up to 6:30 pm). There is a lot to do, see, and play. If you are planning to spend the day at the auction, it is a good idea to bring a cooler of drinks and enough food for 2 meals. They may not have food there, and If you have brought no food, you'll have to leave to get something and possibly miss an item you want. If you are waiting to bid on a certain machine, it could take hours for the auctioneer to reach it. If food is sold, the quality of the food is usually not very good and quite frankly a little scary (Really... how old is the nacho cheese in that warmer).
- Think ahead, Do stuff the night before rather than the morning of. A low stress level makes for a much nicer morning. If you have a long drive to get there, get gas the night before. Get some food for in the car. Gather you auction gear, and put it IN THE CAR.
- Finally, and I am not trying to make you feel like a little kid, but go to bed early. Nothing worse than being really tired around that much tension and noise.
- Wake up
- You have been very excited about the auction. you have set your alarm so you can be out of bed and to the auction house before the doors open. But, in your infinite wisdom, though you set your alarm, you did not turn it on. You wake up feeling oddly rested. You glance over at the clock and think...Hmmm 7:30. It has been a long time since I have slept that late. Wonder what I will do toda...CRAP!!! THE AUCTION!!! (Adrenalin surge) You jump out of bed, step on the dog, the dog squeaks and in an attempt to not wake up the rest of the house you change your balance causing you to whack your toe on the dresser (hard). Trying really hard not to scream, you try make your way to the bathroom. You like it dark in your room when you sleep, I mean really, really dark, so you do not see the laundry basket in front of you causing you to fall. During the fall you manage to hit your chin on the same dresser that you stubbed your toe on. The day is not starting so well. The point...don't forget to turn on your alarm. Oh, not that this ever happened to me or anything...Just a warning is all. </drama>
- The Drive
- You have made it out of the house. You got gas last night. You get in your car and head towards the auction. You get there a few minutes before 8 am. This is great as you get to go in soon (ahhh the anticipation). So you make small talk with the others who also didn't stub their toe that morning either. These folks, though similar in heart, are the competition. The folks that will be driving your game price up. So now is the time to schmooz and try to get a feel for what you are up against. "So what are YOU looking for?" you might ask. They tell you 'Michael Jackson Thriller, it's a jamma you know...". Relieved, you can call them friend as it is not the game that you came for. Actually all silliness aside, I have met some great people I still keep in touch with at these auctions. All I can say is it is a wonderful gathering of fellow nerds.
- The Doors finally open
- (Not on time by the way). You know that music at the beginning of the Simpson's... You know, the clouds part then angelic voices (Ahhhhh)...Well that should be the sound that happens when the doors of the auction. Time to go in an see what they have. My first auction I walked in and was very much saddened to see this little row of about 15 games with a few games behind them. Sure there was a Defender sitting there (which I eventually bought). But all in all there was just so few. Then I turned my head the other direction and realized that all I had just been looking at, were the late arrivals. There were games as far as the eye could see. Now, please do not go in expecting to see pristine machines in their glory days. Most of these games are old and have seen some abuse in their day. But instead go in looking for possibilities. The BYOAC community is based on the idea: BUILD, RESTORE, PLAY. So see these cabs as the a playground of toys to fix up. Now, Time to go and play.
- At some point early in the preview period you should register to bid. Some companies like Super Auctions, will now let you register online. I'll say it again, make sure you do this as early as possible. The lines can get quite long and move very slowly. They will collect your home information and payment option. While you are registering, If you are unsure, ask them about the their payment options. Checks are generally not accepted. It's either cash or credit card. You generally need to either put down a money deposit, or leave your driver's license with them. With some companies, once you have registered with them once, you do not need to leave your license at your next auction as they have you on file.
DO NOT forget to collect your license at the end of the day.
The Preview Period
- There is a preview period before the start of the auction during which time you can power up the games and try them out. Most previews start at 8am and end when the auction opens. Most auctions are scheduled to start at 10am, but they almost always start late. Also, games are often still brought in during the preview period, so don't be too discouraged if there are not too many games when you arrive at 8am. Bring a very long extension cord to try out the games during the preview period. The places are usually very big, and outlets are often only located on the outer walls of the building. Bring a power strip or a multi-tap so that you can plug in multiple games or share an outlet with others (there are usually only a few outlets).
- The preview period is where the fun really starts. It is a large room full of folks running around with their extension cords all looking for some little scrap of electricity to make their game turn on. You see a cluster of folks. Someone has found juice. You make your way through the huddle and find a wad of A/C splitters connected to other A/C splitters connected to power strips connected to other power strips, and all this is coming out of one outlet. You run your extension cord to your game. There is generally a 2 rows back to back, with a space of about 2 feet between the rows. so you make your way down the corridor of the butt sides of all the machines. This is a great place to get an idea of the condition of the machine. Often folks clean up the fronts but neglect the back ends. Just FYI. So, you get to your machine, you look on the floor and there is a scramble of plugs. so you sort out all the plugs and plug in the machine. You hear the screen zap to life so you know it came on. After a run around to the front side you realize you plugged in the machine next to the one you wanted. This is the way it goes. Finally you get your game to work. You get to play the game. Ghaw what fun. Playing the real thing, not some flash simulated web browser knock up, but the real thing. You mark down the lot number of the game and mark that it plays well. Then off to another game. Back to the plug dungeon. You plug in your next game. you coin it up and are just about to play when all the sudden all the power to about 60 games just stops. The room goes suddenly quiet. well for a second that is because the silence is usually followed by a universal...Hey man what the f...Heck happened. I find this funny. Watching people get upset when it is NEVER a good idea to plug that many things into 1 outlet. But the anger dissipates as soon as someone finds the breaker. It is a cycle that happens often throughout the morning.
- Bring pen and paper to jot notes. There may be a number of a particular game and you want to know which worked and which didn't. All items being auctioned are numbered, which helps in tracking the items. the numbered item(s) are called "Lots". Sometimes the auctioneer will print a list of all items, so find out if one's available and get a copy. This is also useful for tracking selling prices. Just be aware that because pieces are still being brought in that morning, the list may not be complete. The numbers do not indicate the order by which things are auctioned.
- When the preview period ends, sometimes you are asked not to power up or open anything (But if not...GAME ON!!!)
- BTW, A game is considered working "all the way" if it powers up, and video games show a picture (even a horrible picture, as most bad pictures can be corrected with monitor adjustments or cheap fixes).
Things to Consider - Check out this list of things to consider when previewing games during the auction. You don't want to go home with a dud.
The Auction Begins
- Usually they will make a few announcements that the auction is about to begin. If you have not registered, DO IT NOW. You do not want to be standing in line and watch all those games slip away.
- The bidding usually goes like this: The auctioneer will offer a starting price or an "opening bid". If nobody accepts this bid, he will lower the opening bid until someone accepts his offer. Once the offer is accepted, the auctioneer will ask for the next incremental bid. The bid increments vary depending on the average cost of the items. For most games, the increments are usually $25, and may be $12.50 when things get heated. Listen to the auctioneer at the start of the auction. You'll look like a fool if you bid $301 when the price is currently $300. The price will go up and up if people keep bidding. Once the bidding has plateaued and one person has accepted a bid that no one else will challenge, the auctioneer will close out the battle by saying "going once... going twice.... SOLD", (or "Gone"). At this point no more bids will be taken (no mater how much you beg). The last person to make a bid (i.e. the one willing to pay the most for the item in question) "wins" the bid and gets the item. They will ask you for your buyer number. They record your number and give it to the cashier. There is no backing out at this point. If you do try to back out, they will make an announcement, everyone will look at you and groan, and depending on the reason for the back out, the may take your number. Bidding then proceeds to the next item and the cycle repeats.
- If you realize that you were bidding on the wrong game (it happens) tell the auctioneer immediately. You do not want to get stuck with the cruddy conversion of solitaire, when you thought you were bidding on the mint Tron right next to it.
- Someone often works ahead of the auctioneer to power up the games, and they sometimes get non-working games running again. If a game does not power up, the auction company may get it working during the auction. This could be a good thing (if you wanted a working game), or a bad thing (if you were hoping to get the game cheap).
LISTEN CAREFULLY TO THE AUCTIONEER DURING THE COURSE OF THE AUCTION
- Listen for the condition of the game as described by the auctioneer. This is especially useful if you missed it during the preview period, or missed the preview period entirely. I've seen a lady bid high for a Ms. Pac-Man, but she never heard the auctioneer say that it has no monitor or game board, and she couldn't see it due to the crowd of people. (Also another good reason to show up early to look at the games before the auction starts)
- The auctioneer may set up some bidding rules on particular items. Observe the auction numbers on items. If there is a single number for a group of items, they will most likely be auctioned for one bid. Often when there are more than one of a particular item in similar condition, the auctioneer will have people bid on the items, but give the winning bidder a CHOICE of the one or more of the items, EACH at the cost of the winning bid. Be careful. I've seen people think they are getting all of the items for the winning price, and they bid too high.
- One thing to accept with a grain of salt (i.e. don't believe), is when an auctioneer says that a game is rare. The word "rare" is so often misused, it's become meaningless. Yes, some items they say are rare are truly rare, but most often not. Sometimes "rare" means Crap, how am I gonna sell this thing? Just use your own judgment and guidelines.
- If you stop bidding because the bid price gets too high for you, hoping to get the next one at a lower cost, you may lose any chance of getting any of the items because the auctioneer may offer all the like pieces. I've seen operators win a bid, and then take every one of the items. If you really want one of the items, you may have to be the high bidder the first time; and if you don't take them all, the next bidder may get the items for a lot less. It's a gamble.
- Example: if there are 4 boxes of CDs, and the winning bid is $50, the winner may pick one of the boxes for the $50, or choose any 2 for a total of $100, or all for $200. After the winner gets finished the looting, the left overs are auctioned off. They may go for more than the $50 or they could go for $2.00. (The winner got the box with the BeeGee's greatest hits).
- NOTE: Many times the owner of an item will bid on his/her own item in an attempt to reach a higher price. Sometimes the owner will buy back their own items. This is cleverly named, a "buyback". After a while you can learn to spot these people, and if you notice that they are the only ones bidding against you, don't get caught up in "auction fever" and end up spending more than you really wanted to. Buyer beware.
During the auction, the auctioneer and the mass of people will move from game to game. With a huge crowd, this gets uncomfortable and tiring. If you are interested in a particular game, you may want to move ahead of the crowd and stand near the game so you're close up when it's auctioned and you can hear what the auctioneer is saying. The quality of their PA systems is often poor, and the large rooms have a lot of echo. Bottom line, it is hard to hear a lot of the time.
Whatever isn't chosen is auctioned again. Games are sold "as is". Period!
Please be courteous to winning bidders. Nothing makes the moment more awkward than a sore looser making his unhappiness known. Auctions are meant to be fun, not confrontational. Also...Do not play with the games that already have been won. (Unless you won it).
After the Auction
- The auction is now over. It is time to pay and get your games home. It is a weird feeling because it has been a long day, but it went fast. I usually find that I get everything done then go and sit in my car to go home and suddenly realize... Holy cow, I am tired. It is a wonderful thing to be able to open a cooler and pull out an ice cold drink just about now. Now... where did I put the keys?
- How do I pay?
- It's cheaper to pay cash. Again, there is sometimes a fee for paying with credit card. Usually it is about 5%. As with the auctioneer's take, this is NOT included in the "sold" price. Cash is best, so bring lots of it!
- There is a sign that says that I can get the keys from the manager. What keys?
- Some folks that bring their games in are nice enough not to strip out the coin mechs and coin door keys. This is a great thing as now you do not have to go and purchase them your self. Usually there is a front table. The manager has a large selection of keys. They keys will be numbered according to lots just like your game. When you have your recipt, visit the table and collect your keys.
- I won and wanna go home.
- After winning an item, you can pay for it and haul it away at any time during the auction. The most you will have to wait is for the auctioneers to get the selling information input into their computer systems. So, give them at least a half-hour before you wait in line to pay.
- How long do I have to get my stuff out of there?
- Purchased items have to be out of the building by a certain time. Make sure you ask for this time. When bidding, be sure to keep this in mind so that you give yourself enough time to get your items out. There may be only one large exit, and other people's vehicles may be pulled up to it, meaning that you have to wait your turn to get out. Don't be caught short on time.
Actual Auction Prices
It is sometimes nice to see ahead of time, how much to expect to pay for their favorite game. Below are from auctions that the BYOAC community have been to and have recorded the prices.
For your benefit and the benefit of other collectors out there, it's very helpful to take pictures and keep track of prices and then post this information on the here. Digital cameras and cell phone cameras are especially useful for this. If you meet other collectors at the auction, divide up the task of writing down the prices as it can be quite taxing to do this the whole day.
Note: some companies do not allow you to take pictures. Apparently there was some trouble some time back with one attender taking pictures of another attenders daughter.
Most arcade auctions are run by US Amusements or Super Auctions. Their web sites are:
- Getting Your Games Home - Several suggestions on how to get your new games home.
- Quick List - A helpful list of things you may need when attending an auction.
- Back to Game Room