AUBURN — Auctioneer Steve Keenan was having a little trouble getting the crowd excited about the first items on the block: police-grade locking shotgun holders, suitable for a truck or a car.

“You guys must all have them over here already,” Keenan joked.

The price hovered at $15.

“Mother’s Day is coming, just next year,” he said.

But $15 is where the price stayed, and the buyer walked out with three of them.

If you were in the market Thursday morning for cheap doors, vintage fire equipment or a pile of smooth river rocks, the field just east of the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport was a pretty good place to be.

A crowd filled the open lot, taking part in a city of Auburn municipal auction. They feasted on the smaller auction items early — the shotgun racks, safety ear plugs by the box, safety glasses and pistol holders — before moving on to the main courses: a few big trucks, some tractors and plows, a couple of old fire engines, Ingersoll Arena’s old Zamboni and a host of snowblowers, sidewalk plows and weed whackers.

Much of the equipment came from the city of Auburn. It was old gear that had long since been replaced and was taking up space in storage. The city of Lewiston provided a few items, as well, and South Portland’s Keenan Auction Company, the group hired to manage Thursday’s sale, brought in a pile of consignment items left over from previous sales.

Most people came to kick tires and watch the process, but many filled out the paperwork to bid — just in case.

“I go to two or three of these, because you never know,” said Dean Hinkley of Wales. He said he was interested in a tow-behind vacuum — but only if the price was right.

“I came and it didn’t look too great and it wasn’t getting great reports,” he said. “They have some things here I couldn’t believe. They had a cargo van and it had more than 300,000 miles on it and you’re bound to have some problems with that.”

Lewiston Finance Committee Member Mike Marcotte said he was there to watch the sale of an old sedan that was used at one time by former city administrators.

“If it goes for less than $1,300, that’ll piss me off,” Marcotte said. “But if it does, I guess I’m willing to bid on it, just to bid it up. But if I get stuck with it, I’d be screwed.”

Auburn City Councilor Leroy Walker was there to monitor bidders for the Zamboni. Walker said he was against putting the ice resurfacer on the auction block. It was beyond its use for the city’s rink, but Walker said he was sure it would have fetched a better price if the city had raffled it off. Walker said it works, but it’s very old.

“I want to see what they get,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll get $2,000 for it. But if the city would have raffled it off, we’d have gotten $10,000 on that machine.”

The Zamboni sold for $700 at the auction.

State Rep. Jeff Timberlake of Turner owns Northland Holder, a New England heavy equipment company. He had more faith in the auction. Most things sell pretty much for what they’re worth, he said.

“You tend to make money on just about every item you put in, versus what you would have on trade-in,” he said. “You don’t win on every single one, but you average things out and you do all right.”

It’s a fair process, he said. “So much stuff goes up for sale and nobody every hears about it, except for one or two people. This way, everybody gets a chance and the highest bidder gets it. You get to that top dollar pretty easily, and I’ll bet it adds 20 percent to the overall sale of these items.”

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: