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An auction of a different sort

January 15, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - It wasn't a typical auction.

There was no fast-talking auctioneer and nobody raised a gavel.

Manny Shaool, owner of Manny's Oriental Rugs & Gallery, said he counted most of the estimated 100 potential buyers at his auction Sunday as "personal friends."

People bought antique furniture, oriental rugs, sculptures and paintings - some for thousands of dollars less than retail prices.

That's part of the appeal of auctions, said Bob Mills of Hagerstown. Mills said he operates two antique furniture kiosks and was at the auction looking for unusual items at reasonable prices.

Mills said he was interested in buying antique furniture for his stores and rugs for his home.

Mills said his wife does most of the bidding. The pair bid about $475 on a large rug before quitting, letting another buyer take the rug for about $500.

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Mills said he might be willing to pay more for items for his home than for items he plans to sell.

Shaool said Sunday's auction was his first in several years. He scheduled it because of excess inventory, he said.

Several people were looking to fill new homes they built or bought.

"Bad for him, but good for us, I guess," Mills said.

Heather Frye of Martinsburg, W.Va., recently built a new home and was shopping for rugs and unusual furniture.

"I like to look and pick up new and interesting pieces," she said. "And auctions are a great place to do that."

After only about 15 minutes of bidding, Ken Taylor of Greencastle, Pa., had purchased several rugs.

"We're building a new home in Waynesboro (Pa.), and we're trying to furnish it," he said. "I came not anticipating buying anything, but the quality is excellent, and the prices are very reasonable."

Bidding for a rug that normally sells for $3,200 began at $300, and Taylor purchased it for $260.

Shaool said bidding on some items started at 10 percent of retail value. If he did not have a bidder at that price, he dropped the starting bid.

Laura Hall of Hedgesville, W.Va., said she visited Shaool's store before and bought several rugs from him.

"Some our dog ate, so we came back to get some more," Hall said.

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