It’s all too common that I see, “The Governor can’t tell me …” or “This is governmental overreach …” or worse yet I suppose, “I’m going to have a live auction anyway …”
I’ve got news for any of these auctioneers. If you work in a “license” state and you defy a Governor’s (or other’s) order, that license can be taken away. You see, your license is essentially “permission to work” and such permission can be generally suspended or revoked for cause.
But, but, but … is not an excuse. You already have it booked? You already have it advertised? You need the money? It doesn’t matter — if your state indicates you can’t have a live auction, you can’t have a live auction.
For most of us, our state is never going to list specifically our businesses as “essential” or “open.” There aren’t enough auctions nor auctioneers to earn the privilege to be listed as either in most states.
You can also point out that other businesses are open and/or have similar crowds. Welcome to the auction profession which has very little relative lobbying power when it comes to influencing state or federal government officials.
This means you’re going to have to make a judgment call if your live auction is permitted under whatever phase or directive is currently enacted. Can you limit your crowd to 10 people, for example? Can you maintain social distancing? Will people show up?
Of course — no matter — you can have a live auction — just like you can go 125 miles an hour in a 35-speed-limit zone. The risk is you get stopped and lose your license. It would seem to me to be a bad idea to go 125 miles an hour or have a live auction in defiance of any law or rule.
Our advice? Go ahead and have a live auction when your Governor or other officials say (or imply) you can and when you’re able to provide a reasonably safe environment for your bidders. Otherwise, it’s best to do an online auction (and you probably can …) and/or postpone or cancel your live auctions for now.
Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.