Economy sparks boom in business liquidation auctions

A small, family-owned bakery closes its doors. A school district needs to unload a fleet of old vans. A Midwest farmer retires after decades of plowing fields.

Business liquidations, which account for a significant portion of auctions across the country, stem from a wide variety of cases.

For some Auctioneers who specialize in liquidations, the shaky economy of the past several years led to a boom in business.

“For us, 2011 was a blockbuster year,” says Daniel West of West Auctions Inc., Woodland, Calif. “And business is not letting up. We were in the right place at the right time, and we are very busy.”

Liquidation refers to the process in which a company closes or declares bankruptcy and sells assets and property to repay creditors. Liquidations can be voluntary or required by creditors.

Some auction houses saw liquidation business slow in recent years. The Liquidation Co., about 50 miles outside of Los Angeles, works mostly with school districts looking to sell property and assets, such as computers, food-service equipment, furniture and old vehicles.

Faced with deep budget cuts, school districts held onto old items or found ways to repair them, rather than getting rid of old supplies and purchasing new ones, says Susan Jovin, who has owned the company with her husband since 1993.

“Schools are holding onto everything they can — refrigerators, cars, computers. Or they are stripping them for parts and using whatever they can,” Jovin says. “In that regard, our business is down.”

Still, attendance at the company’s monthly auctions climbed steadily as the economy struggled. At auctions nationwide, Auctioneers say, many people saw bargains in used refrigerators and industrial-size ovens, combines and tractors, pipes and cables.

Read the complete story in Auctioneer magazine.

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Filed under Auction Industry, Auction marketing, Auctioneer magazine, NAA Members

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