Auctioneer Travis Radtke works the crowd for another bid at Gallery 10. Auctions are held here every Sunday morning. James Card Photo.
The Weyauwega auction scene
By James Card
“Take five, take five, seven and a half, ten now, twelve and a half, fifteen dollars, twenty dollars, five, five, thirty dollars, thirty two and a half, take thirty five, take seven and a half, go forty dollars , go forty dollars, forty dollars, sold!
Bidder #129 just bought a US Army rotisserie for $40. It was made of heavy aluminum and was the size of a small suitcase.
The same item is listed online in the $100 price range.
It’s one of the many scores people can get on Weyauwega’s bustling auction scene.
Two auction houses in Weyauwega provide bargain-hunting entertainment throughout the winter.
Liebe Auction Service, at 105 Pine St, holds auctions at 5 p.m. every Wednesday.
Gallery 10, just outside of town on E6142 County Trunk X, holds auctions at 9 a.m. every Sunday.
Steve Liebe presides over the auction behind a counter and above a wooden shingle roof facade that gives the place a home-like feel. Next to him is a clerk recording sales.
Ringmen (and ringwomen) in red shirts help Liebe keep the bidding going at a fast and efficient pace.
“We’ve been training for years,” Liebe said. A ringman’s job is to help the auctioneer locate bids, display or describe items to be auctioned, and answer bidders’ questions.
At auctions with large crowds, they are the ones who shout “Yep!” which notifies the auctioneer that a bid has been acknowledged.
Liebe has seats for 150 participants. It is relatively easy for him to spot auctions in the crowd.
They also sometimes move outside at the start of the auction to sell boats, trailers and cars.
This is done early to take advantage of the little daylight during the winter months.
Increase in real estate sales
Ted Radtke started Gallery 10 in 2018 as a full-time business. He has previous experience in auctions and he partnered with his cousin, Travis Radtke, who previously had an auction company where he did on-site sales.
At a recent auction they had a great offering of collectible stoneware: Red Wing jugs, sauerkraut jars and butter churns which generated a lot of interest.
“I don’t mean we specialize in anything because we do a lot of estates for people and what they have is what we sell. Sometimes we get really good ones and sometimes you get what you get,” Radtke said.
Travis Radtke, wearing a cowboy hat, calls the numbers he is looking for for an article. Next to him are tables where the ringman places the next item in line.
Both auction houses have a similar seating arrangement in the middle of the room and the majority of the auction goods are displayed on tables and shelves on either side of the room.
Bidding and paying in both places is simple and streamlined. At the registration desk, provide a driver’s license and a phone number and you will receive a paper with a number. Show your card on an item you want to buy and if you win the bidding war, your number is saved for that item or lot.
The ring man will bring the item to you and you will pay for it at the registration desk before leaving.
All items must be removed from the premises at the end of the auction; however, they make accommodations for oversized items to be picked up the next day, such as something that needs to be hauled in a trailer.
Business has been brisk for both auction houses with regularly scheduled auctions each week. “Over the last year or so, homes have been selling pretty quickly, so there’s been a lot of traffic, whether it’s property sales or people moving out of the area,” Liebe said. The same goes for Radtke who said his primary focus is real estate sales.
Each company has an online photo gallery of the goods to be auctioned which is published in advance.
If one person cannot attend, then a proxy bid can be left before the auction and the ring man will bid on behalf of the absent buyer.
These places are worth visiting at least once for historical appreciation, as it’s like stepping into something that’s a cross between a community clubhouse and a small-town museum.
Both Radtke and Liebe have amassed a huge collection of Weyauwega memorabilia from days gone by. Old signs adorn the walls and quirky artifacts are displayed in displays.
Both auction houses sell food and drink. At Gallery 10, it is provided by the Weyauwega-Fremont High School Musical Booster Club.