A fellow teacher invited me to check out the Woodburn Auction Yard, which opens every Tuesday. Here the old west meets Arabian bazaar. Auctioneers sing. Cows bellow. People herd.
People bidding on... junk.
Everything from the exotic to the mundane can be bought here. And possibly the you'll find the exotic disguised as the mundane. The vague sense you might strike it rich combines with cowboy hats, dust and animals to makes you feel like a prospector in the Old West. That box here an oil well, that lot here a gold seam. Is that signed picture of P. Diddy authentic or a print? It's in a box with 10 other pictures and you can buy them all for $5.
Five or more auctions happen simultaneously. Livestock, nursery plants, outdoor equipment, and the general auction. Two auctioneers, miked up on movable ladders, work separate ends of a large warehouse filled with everything our capitalist, consumer society produces. Paintings. Stuffed animals. Shotgun shells. A Βowflex system (went for $20). Boxes of books. Boxes of wires. Chairs. Sofas. Clothes. Trinkets. Knicknacks.
The bidding goes by "lot", typically nine or so boxes lumped together. The auctioneer starts at $5 for "choice" first pick of the boxes. Up the bidding goes, until supply meets demand and the box is sold. First choice went anywhere from $10 to $25. Then the bidding begins again. By the end you can snag a box for $2 to $3. When no one wants to buy the remaining boxes, they lump what's left into one big lot. One gentlemen, for purposes unknown but presumably creepy, walked away with four boxes of stuffed animals for $2.
All this could be yours for just $5
Most interestingly, the place is a veritable melting pot of the peoples who populate the Mid-Willamette valley. The Rancher Grandpa predominates. Old men with sun beaten faces wearing blue jeans, plaid shirts, and lots of suspenders, gather around farm gear. They bear an uncanny resemblance to my own grandpa who ranches cattle in Washington. I resist the urge to hug them.
There are Russian Old Believers, distinguished by their beards or long, silky dresses. Outside a tall German Apostolic woman, head covered, speaks in Spanish to her Ηispanic husband. Two kids in Carhart gear, make a mess all over themselves with their chew while peacocking by some fishing gear.
My friend loses a box of old Nintendo gear to a young man who only speaks Spanish. I bid to $5 on three sealed cigar boxes, but lose to a farmer who goes $6. A crowd gathers as he opens the boxes: empty.
I end up buying three hanging baskets of flowers for $23. I paid $10 each for the first two, then got wise and snagged the last one for $3. I get a brand new Topsy Turvy to hang a tomato plant in for $4, and an old Pendleton Woolen Mills blanket for $2. My last purchase is a box of board games for $6. I wanted the Trivial Pursuit inside, but I get numerous about ten other games also, including two "adult" games that I'm afraid to touch.
All said and done I spent $35. And it was a lot of fun. A great way to spend a few hours on a Tuesday. I'm definitely going back.