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This story first published in the March 2013 edition of Auctioneer magazine, the official publication of the National Auctioneers Association.
March 2013 by Nancy Rigdon- Contributing Writer
Tongue twisters, slow dancing, auction lessons and cock-a-doodle-doos have helped grow Patty Brown’s monthly auction crowd from 17 to more than 100 attendees in five months.
Brown believes the success of her new business stems from mixing fun with a quality auction. The recipe, she’s found, is a hit with a crowd that includes children and young adults as well as senior citizens.
“I am getting great reviews, especially from people who had never been to auctions before,” Brown says.
Brown graduated from the Florida Auctioneer Academy in June 2012 and launched her business, Red Belly Rooster Auction Theater, in September 2012 in Fayetteville, Ga.
Red belly roosters
The second Friday evening of each month, Brown, her husband, their 4-year-old and 8-year-old daughters and Brown’s mother transform into the red belly roosters. Wearing black pants, white dress shirts and red bow ties, they run the crowd inside a retro theater.
General admission tickets are $1, and a $5 VIP ticket includes reserved seats, carryout service, water and mints.
“There’s an old ticket booth, so you expect there to be a charge,” Brown says. “A family of four can go out and have a fun Friday night for $4. Of course, we hope that’s not all they’re spending.”
The many giveaways include “auction bucks.”
At 6:30 p.m., newcomers can ease their anxiety with a class on auction basics. Patty and Terry Brown’s two daughters, Maddie and Addy, take the microphone at 7 p.m. and welcome the crowd with an energetic cock-a-doodle-do. The Browns have six children in all; the four oldest are in their 20s.
Outside of an auction that focuses on antiques, collectibles and household decor, the evening’s lineup includes a kids’ bid table, a tongue twister competition for children, and a time where all can dance the twist. The best twist moves win $20 in auction bucks.
“My husband, he’s an accountant, and he said, ‘No one is going to stand up at an auction and dance.’ But they do because they want to win those bucks,” Brown says with a laugh.
The event ends with a slow dance.
“While there’s a lot that needs to be done at that time, my husband and I always make the time to slow dance together,” Brown says. “Our whole family really loves working together. We feel like this pulls us together.”
Before starting the business, Brown focused on homeschooling her children. On the weekends, the family enjoyed heading to auctions. To get the good stuff, Brown says, they traveled more than an hour, past Atlanta.
Today, the Browns pick the majority of the items they sell. Their finds include collectibles and furniture from estate sales and yard sales.
“We know we can’t just make this an entertainment night. This has to be a quality auction,” Brown says.
Brown’s plans for her business started to form during her time at the Florida Auctioneer Academy. Its instructor dresses as the “Kentucky Fried Chicken colonel” during auctions, inspired her to go down the show-auction path.
As Brown crafted her business plan, she says she prioritized what is often a challenge in the industry: attracting younger generations and others in the nontraditional auction crowd.
The reaction to what she has built has pleasantly surprised her. For instance, a local radio personality has raved about the events. Word-of-mouth has played a big role in growing the crowd, she says.
She’s thinking about expanding from one to two events per month.
The success has taught Brown a lesson.
“Don’t be afraid of going outside the box,” she says.
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