Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It is an auction or is it a sale? While they’re all technically auctions, many in the auction business use the word, sale instead of auction. For example:

    We have a big sale coming up this weekend …
    Wow, that sale we had Monday was well attended …
    Our upcoming sale has some particularly good items …

When in fact, since these are all auctions, and not sales, they probably should have been worded:

    We have a big auction coming up this weekend …
    Wow, that auction we had Monday was well attended …
    Our upcoming auction has some particularly good items …

So what’s the difference? Why isn’t the word sale just as good as the word auction — when referring to an auction?

The word, “auction” can be traced back to 1585–1595. The original Latin word was likely auctiō meaning an increase and/or gradual increase. That’s exactly what happens at an auction — the bidding starts low, and increases gradually until the final bid is determined.

The word, “sale” can be traced to Swedish origin, and was first used to denote “A selling of shop goods at lower prices than usual” in 1866. This is exactly the opposite to what happens at auction. Items sell to the highest bidder, and prices aren’t lower than usual, but rather exactly what the market determines.

Some cite the term public sale to denote an auction. In this regard, some early references to a public sale equate such an event to an auction. Still today, some auction events are referred to as public sales, where the word sale is more a verb than a noun. Some isolated references can be found regarding auction sales and public auction sales.

In fact, the largest state fair championship livestock auction is known as The Sale of Champions.

While many contend that the word sale is essentially interchangeable with the word auction, others suggest that auctioneers should be diligent to use the word auction in all aspects of their business; such as, these more-so purists would say that auctioneers provide auction services via auction marketing to attract auction customers to attend auctions to purchase property by auction …

I believe we as auctioneers should use the word auction rather than sale to further distance the intrinsic nature of auctions versus sales. The public views a sale as offering a discount; while auctioneers may want to suggest the possibility of getting a deal at an auction, auctions produce the maximum prices for sellers via widespread marketing and competitive bidding.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.