BUSINESS HEADLINES

Quarters for a cause

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, June 22, 2013

Quarter auctions are like “vendor blenders” with a benevolent twist. That’s how Dawn Ince of Bridgeport describes the newest networking methodology introduced to the county.

Bidders pay an entry fee and bid quarters for items valued between $1 and $31 or more. The items are auctioned by participating vendors, many of them small business owners, and a portion of the proceeds benefit a pre-selected charity.

Tuesday’s quarter auction at the Bridgeport Community Center is the sixth such event in Wise County and will benefit Wise County Special Needs Baseball.

With Julie VanHoose of Bridgeport, Ince has organized the auctions, which highlight two of the most important aspects of business.

“No. 1, it helps the charities, so it’s good for the community,” Ince said. “No. 2 it’s a networking opportunity for people in business.”

HOW DO THEY WORK?

Ince describes a quarter auction as a game where bidders play for prizes valued between $12 and $50 or more.

Bidders pay a $2 entry fee, which includes a chance for door prizes and a numbered bidding paddle. A chip with the corresponding number on the paddle goes into the drawing bucket.

“Lets say your paddle has a 3,” Ince said. “A chip with the No. 3 will go into the drawing bucket.”

In addition to the paddle, bidders will need quarters. Attendants are encouraged to bring their own rolls as only a limited amount will be available at the door.

Doors to the auction will open at 6:30 p.m. so bidders may preview the items that will be bid and visit vendor tables.

The auction begins promptly at 7 p.m. As each item comes up for bid, the vendor will give a brief description and then announce however many quarters are required to bid. The quarter bid is determined by the item’s retail value.

THE BIDDING BEGINS

Bidders interested in the item place their quarter bid in buckets passed around the room and raise their paddle. Once all bids are made, the quarters will be collected and put into a bag with the vendor’s name on it. All quarters for the items each vendor auctions go to that vendor at the end of the auction.

An auctioneer will draw a number from the bucket of numbered chips and call it out. If the number matches the paddle of someone who has bid quarters and raised their paddle, it is the bidder’s responsibility to call out that they have a winning number. Non-bidders are encouraged to call, ‘No bid’ if their number is drawn.

If the bidder with the corresponding paddle fails to call out that they won or did not bid on that item, the auctioneer will continue to draw chips until a winner is found.

The quarters of bidders who don’t win are still collected, even if they don’t win.

“If you do win, you’re usually getting great prizes for under $1,” Ince said.

But because of the mature nature of some of the items sold – including women’s undergarments – the auction is open to the public age 18 and up.

“In addition to it being a networking event, we’d like it to be a fun night out activity for a mom,” Ince said.

CHARITY FUNNEL

The auctions will be held the fourth Tuesday of the month, except December, which will be rescheduled due to the Christmas holiday, through the year thanks to the city council donating use of Bridgeport Community Center for a year.

Each auction benefits a different charitable organization pre-selected by event organizers.

The previous five auctions have raised between $400 and $600 each for Wise Area Relief Mission, Relay For Life of Wise County, Wise Hope and the Area Business Women’s Network scholarship fund.

Although vendors keep the quarters bid for their items, charities receive all of the proceeds from vendor fees (each vendor must pay $25 to participate) and bidder entry fees ($2 each).

In addition, at each auction tickets for a 50/50 raffle are sold for $1 each or seven for $5. Half of the pot goes to the winning ticketholder and the other half to the charity of the month.

“We pay a lot forward to these wonderful non-profit organizations who do so much for our community,” Ince said.

VENDORS WANTED

Regular vendors include several independent sales people for Scentsy, It Works, Vault Denim, Mary Kay, Thirty-one Gifts, Essential Body Wear, Advocare, Premier Jewelry, Avon and Tastefully Simple. But the auction is open to all business types.

“It can be anyone that has a business,” Ince said, “anyone, especially if they are new and they want to get their name out there – bakers, cute boutique owners. If you provide a service or sell any sort of product, we’d love to have you.”

To participate, each vendor must pay a non-refundable $25 fee (which goes to the charity) and must auction two items, donate one door prize (valued between $5 and $10) and have a minimum of five guests in attendance.

“That last stipulation turns away many vendors,” Ince said, “but it’s a win-win. More in attendance means more people to give more help to these charities. And the people you, as a vendor bring are potential customers for the other vendors, just like the people other vendors bring are potential customers for you. Not bringing people takes away from the charities. Bringing those five people helps make the event successful for everyone. ”

Vendors keep the money collected from the auction items.

Although Ince recognizes the struggle that usually comes with introducing a new concept, she is confident in the event’s profitability.

“I’d like to maximize on these,” she said. “I think we can raise $1,000 a month, easily, for our charities. We have the space; we just need more vendors – and people to attend.”

Interested vendors and anyone seeking additional information may contact Ince at 940-626-9402 or Dince@texasins.net.

BRIDGEPORT QUARTER AUCTION

Benefiting Wise County Special Needs Baseball
6 to 8 p.m.
Tuesday, June 25
Bridgeport Community Center
1102 Lawdwin Ave.

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