This post is sponsored by LiveAuctioneers, but all opinions expressed are my own
This might not come as a surprise, but my favorite place to shop for furniture and decor is LiveAuctioneers. My obsession with auctions started about 5-years ago. At that point, I had never been to an in-person auction, let alone bid in one online.
I was introduced to LiveAuctioneers when devastatingly, my favorite thrift shop closed their storefront. They moved to a nearby warehouse and advised they would only sell items through an auction website called LiveAuctioneers. And just like that, my addiction to the exciting world of online auctions started.
Understandably, auctions can be intimidating, confusing, and challenging to navigate. I hope that the information in this post and my tips and tricks will help you feel comfortable to bid in your first live auction!
Antique French wine cabinet purchased from an auction in Texas.
Why do I shop auctions?
There are several reasons why LiveAuctioneers is my favorite place to shop. I live for the hunt of finding the perfect, unique piece and the thrill of bidding and winning. The value and quality of pieces on LiveAuctioneers are unparalleled. You will find heirloom quality furniture and decor for prices similar or less than a big-box retailer. Lastly, shopping at auction is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way to furnish your home. You will be giving antique and used pieces a new life, rather than contributing to traditional retailers' wasteful culture.
Antique pine coffee table, media unit, lamp table, and decor on mantel purchased from LiveAuctioneers
How does LiveAuctioneers work?
LiveAuctioneers is a worldwide marketplace that hosts thousands of independent, online auctions in real-time. To bid in an auction, you must create an account and register for the auction. There's no cost to participate; you only pay for items you win.
Once you've registered, you can bid before the auction is live (called absentee bidding), or you can bid in real-time during the live auction. The advantage of bidding in real-time is that it increases your chance of winning an item, but you'll have to remember to tune in during the live auction.
Pro tip: if you really want to win a particular item, it is best to place an absentee bid early, then hop into the live auction on auction day (in case other live bidders are eyeing your item).
For more information, LiveAuctioneers' website has a detailed overview of how auctions work.
How do I access LiveAuctioneers?
There are two ways to hunt for treasure and participate in auctions. You can use the desktop version, or you can use the iOS or Android app. I primarily use the app to search for and bid on items. The app is extremely helpful because it sends notifications, alerting you when an item you're watching is coming up at auction.
How do I find auction items? There are a few ways I search for items at auction.
The first, most obvious way, is with the search bar. I'll type something like "antique chest," and it will populate tons of results. One way to narrow down those results is filtering by location (I like to filter to USA only to reduce my shipping costs).
The second way I search is by following searches. Again, type in "antique chest," and you will see the "follow search" button appear. Every time a new item is listed with those terms, you will receive an email alert. I currently follow about 20 search terms, and yes, that means about 15-20 emails a day, but it is worth it if you're hunting for something specific!
Some examples of search terms I follow include cabinets & case pieces, antique pine, farm table, Gustavian, Persian rug, Heriz rug, Lilihan rug, and Louis mirror.
The last way I find items is by browsing auction catalogs. I always browse the entire catalog of my favorite nearby auction houses.
How do I find auctions near me?
There is an interactive map on the desktop version that will help you easily find auctions near you.
Interactive desktop auction map
You can also find auctions on the app by clicking the auction hammer icon on the bottom of the screen. Then, on the top right, you'll see a "near me" tab. Make sure that your location services are enabled for the app.
Interactive auction map on the iOS app
Once you've found auction houses near you, you can follow them. Every time they host a new auction, you will get a notification. I primarily shop auctions within an hour of my home to make pick up easier, but I've also shipped items from across the country.
following auction houses on the iOS app
Pssst! At the bottom of this post, I've linked to a few of my favorite auction houses around the country!
How do I ship an item?
The trickiest part about shopping auctions is figuring out the logistics of shipping or picking up your item. If your item is nearby, you will simply pay your invoice, and then schedule a time to pick it up.
If your item is far away, my favorite shipping service to use is uShip. uShip is a marketplace that connects with trusted, feedback-rated service providers of all kinds—large companies, small fleets, single-truck owners, and even road trippers—that compete for your business and offer extra cargo space at a discount.
I always get a free quote from uShip before bidding on an item that is far away. To do this, you will need the size of the item, the approximate weight, and the pickup/dropoff location. uShip will then provide you with an estimated price range to ship the item. This information is critical before bidding so that you can stay within budget and bid accordingly.
Example of how to create a free estimate on uShip
Example of a free quote from uShip
Once you've won an item, you will create a listing on uShip and wait for the best bid. After selecting your provider, you will send their information to the auction house and schedule a pickup time.
Please make sure to note the time frame you have to pick up/ship an item. Some auction houses only give you two weeks to pick up your item, while others are more flexible. You will find this information under the conditions section that each auction has.
Shopping on LiveAuctioneers requires more time, patience, and energy than shopping at a big box store, but the unique furniture and decor you will find and the value you will get is unparalleled. Additionally, you can feel good about shopping sustainably! Repurposing vintage and antique pieces will give your home a unique flair that cannot be bought at retail.
Table, chairs, and assorted copper pieces purchased from LiveAuctioneers
I hope this post has inspired you to participate in the endless treasure hunt of online auctions. I am very happy to answer any questions in the comments below!
A few of my favorite auction houses:
New Jersey :
Nye & Company Connecticut:
North Carolina: Brunk