"Despite the flagging economy, companies and individuals have responded to the Auction with overwhelming support and generous donations," said WSBE Auction Director Jeffrey Hartley. Looking around the storage room, he remarked, "There literally is something for everyone, and in every price range."
Hartley has been the WSBE auction director for almost 10 years. In that time, he has seen technology undergo a huge revolution, and he has kept pace by moving all auction activity onto the Internet.
"Every Spring Auction item is posted online," Hartley said. "This is our third year of putting all items online. People really love the convenience. Everything from a $10 pizza to the $25,000 Prius is available for preview and bidding online."
In addition to browsing pictures and descriptions, online bidders will know the exact time each item will be sold, to help them devise their bidding strategy. During the televised auction, bidding activity can be tracked in real time. The auction site also permits proxy bidding, which means bidders can reserve a maximum amount they are willing to bid on an item. It's important to note that only the minimum dollar amount needed to win the item will be used. Although not foolproof, the proxy bidding strategy is especially useful if a bidder will not be available to watch the auction close on an item of particular interest, or if the bidder suspects there will be increased competitive bidding at the last minute.
"A bid can sit unchallenged for days or even weeks, but there are watchers who are keeping an eye on it," Hartley noted. "Then, in the final minute, bids come in from all over, and the person who had the winning bid two minutes ago loses out. That happens several times every year. Proxy bidding can help protect against that by automatically challenging counter bids. It's what makes auctions so exciting."
Fans of the popular annual event who do not have Internet access can still watch the auction live on television and call in to place their bids from Wednesday, May 4 through Saturday, May 7, beginning at 7 p.m. each evening.
"All bids will be placed online, whether bidders do it themselves on computers at home, or by calling our studio and having our volunteers place bids online for them," Hartley explained.
Conducting the auction online opens it up to a world-wide audience. "We have had auction winners from all over the country, even as far away as California and Washington," Hartley said.
Casting a wider net using the 'Net increases visibility and positive exposure for the station, and for the many businesses that donated goods and services. Still, it is the close connection to the local community that differentiates WSBE from other public television stations in the region.
"The heart and soul of WSBE is our relationship with our members, donors, and volunteers," Hartley stated. "There is no greater proof of that than our Spring Auction."
To see auction items, bid online, or for more information, visit www.ripbs.org.
*Click here for information about the 2011 Toyota Prius Hybrid