For the past 15 years, people have come to Madison from near and far to Pete’s Auction Service every Jan. 1 for the annual New Year’s Auction. Some come to look, some come to buy and others are there to people watch and enjoy a bowl of homemade soup made by the Madison County Rescue Squad.
The New Year’s Day tradition is the signature event for local auctioneer Pete Elliott and has garnered a following because of the quality consignments and the camaraderie. The auction company saves the most valuable and unusual items for the sale. This year bidders had the opportunity to purchase a variety of antiques, collectables , automobiles and art. Most auction houses offer select sales for quality items in each category. The New Year’s auction is unique in that one lot can be antique gold jewelry, the next a 1957 Thunderbird followed by a Sinclair gasoline globe.
Mike Beach of Woodbridge comes for the entertainment. For Beach, the long drive is offset by his pleasure in watching the unusual items offered for bidding and the characters that are doing the bidding.
“This is my second year coming here,” said Beach. “This is way more interesting than watching football or parades. There is always something interesting being offered. So far, I haven’t actually bought anything but it‘s a lot of fun watching the people and seeing the variety of things that are offered.”
For Julie Boone of Stanardsville, the auction served as a place to shop for a lamp.
“I had been looking online for awhile and just couldn’t find anything I liked,” said Boone. “There was a lot of competition but I found a lamp that I really like.”
Warren Wharton of Orange came to watch the auction to see what some of the collectables were bringing and to catch up with other like-minded friends.
“Most of the time this stuff sells high,” said Wharton. “If you want to buy, the Wednesday auctions are the best. Everything brings top dollar at this auction because you get a lot of people here. You’ll have three or four people that want something and that drives up the price and a lot of people have been hanging around the house for the holidays and they are just itching to get out, go somewhere and spend a little money. For me, I like the camaraderie of it. There are a bunch of us that go to the auctions. You get to see your friends and maybe bid on something.”
Elliott and his wife Janet, both avid collectors, decided to turn their hobby into a family business and founded Pete’s Auction Service. In 2010, the couple moved to the Carpenter building on Route 29 where they operate monthly live auctions, online auctions and offer appraisal and estate sale services.
For Elliott, the New Year’s Day auction is the gem of the year. Because of the large audience, almost everything sells and sells well. Food prepared by the Madison County Rescue Squad Auxiliary is provided to bidders for free and adds to the appeal of the event.
“This was a really good day,” said Elliott, about the Jan. 1 sale. “We’ve sold a lot and done really well.”