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Jaffrey

Bidding on a new  line of work

Auction house opens on Knight Street in Jaffrey

  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Winney Auctions & Appraisals in Jaffrey held its first auction on Saturday, led by Jim Quiter, the auction house owner.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

It’s auction time at Winney Auctions & Appraisals. A working sand-blast cabinet goes to a lucky bidder for $105. A squabble breaks out over a model boat set in bone, and the price inches up incrementally until the happy winner walks away with the $20 prize. No one shows much interest in one box of tools, but for the right price a few auction cards flash up. And through it all is the voice of the auctioneer and auction house owner, Jim Quiter, pattering, “Now $5, now $10, any interest at $15? No interest? Sold! Bidder 005.”

Walking through the auction lots at the Jaffrey auction house is a lot like walking through the history of the owner himself. For his first auction, held on Saturday, most of the items were straight from Quiter’s own private collection, gathered over years of yard sales, flea markets, auctions and picking through all the things other people discard to find those few hidden treasures: tools from his time as a gearhead, computer parts from his foray into computer building, furniture and other antiques he and his wife have collected for their antique shop, and various odds and ends that he’s collected over the years.

Usually, an auction will include about 30 percent of an auctioneer’s own findings, with the rest coming from consignments, said Quiter in an interview at the auction house Thursday. But this time, Quiter is relying on his own collection, while his new business gets off the ground. Quiter said the auction house has been a long time coming for him. He’s always been a junker, he said, and so has his wife, Kari Lindstrom-Quiter . And after they got together, they decided to make a career out of their hobby with their mid-century furniture shop, the Melamine Cup, also in Jaffrey.

“There’s a long history of having a thrifty nature and being attracted to the thrill of the hunt for both of us,” said Quiter with a smile. “Then when we got together, it became a combined effort.”

The furniture shop has always been mainly his wife’s endeavor, though, noted Quiter. Now, the auction house is mostly his.

Quiter kept his job working in technology even after they opened the Melamine Cup, he said. But it wasn’t making him happy. So instead of laboring on in a job he didn’t like, he decided to make a complete change, enrolling in an eight-day crash course in auctioneering from the New England School of Auctioneering in May. He then went on to take the state exam and become a certified auctioneer, and opened his own auction house in Jaffrey.

“The money was good, but I didn’t like the job,” Quiter said of his former career as an X-ray field engineer . “With the auction house, we can do it as a family. We have four kids, and they come to the store with my wife, they come to the auction house with me, and they go out shopping and picking with us. It’s much more of a family-oriented thing,” he said.

Chasing his dream wasn’t entirely a smooth ride, said Quiter. Start-up costs are high, and it took more than a month to get everything lined up for Saturday’s auction, so there was no cash coming in, and money ran out quickly, he said. The box truck he purchased to facilitate his antiquing was a good price, but needed some repairs to get up to snuff, and even the credit card machine he purchased second-hand ended up having to be replaced after it proved impossible to program. Throughout those stumbles, though, Quiter’s family has stood behind him, he said, supporting him through his initial month of business to get him to the main event: his first auction . Quiter finished his incorporation process in mid-July, and has been preparing for the big day ever since, he said.

“There’s a lot of work involved. I’m not scared to work, but it’s been a big change. My last job was pretty lax, and not too many long hours. There’s been some long hours in this process, and I love it. I’ll work until nine or 10 at night, get up and be here at eight or nine in the morning,” Quiter said. “It’s fulfilling and it’s fun. You can’t put a price tag on something that you like to do. If you like what you do, you don’t work a day in your life, and that’s where I am right now.”

The first auction

The first time Quiter ever got the opportunity to call an auction during his training period, he was incredibly nervous, he said in an phone interview Monday . His instructors at the New England School of Auctioneering told him that was natural, and that after he succeeded in selling two or three lots, the rhythm of the auction would take over, and it would all be easy from there. He found that to be true, he said. The first time he had to get up in front of a crowd at his own auction house on Saturday, though, it was almost easy, he said.

“I wasn’t nervous at all. It seemed almost like second nature,” he said.

On Saturday, a month’s worth of work culminated in Winney Auctions & Appraisals’ first auction. The auction house is located at the Union Building on Knight Street in Jaffrey, which is the same location the Melamine Cup started in, said Quiter. The space is large enough to have a spacious viewing area for buyers to mill around in, poking thorough box lots, and enough room for the larger-ticket items to stand tall.

There are several tables worth of small items. Some, like the tool sets, stand as their own separate lots. Others are piled together in a box lot, where one bid wins the whole box. Quiter likes to sneak small gems into each lot, he said, that the average buyer might not notice until they get home and unload their prize. It’s those kinds of small surprises and victories that build the name of an auction house and keep people coming back for more, he said.

Even some of the regular items have hidden secrets, Quiter pointed out. Like a portrait of George Washington sitting innocuously on the table — when you take the painting out of its frame, there is a hidden portrait of a man and child painted on the back. Or a desk designed to view photo negatives on, which has drawers filled with trays for photo negatives. The trays are empty, but there are notes and dates on the trays from the early 1900s.

The auction room itself accommodates 120 people, said Quiter. He hopes to eventually be able to pack the house with an auction every month to every two weeks. Saturday’s auction was smaller than he anticipated, with about 20 registered bidders. Going with the flow, Quiter started the auction, and when a lot of the earlier items didn’t see a lot of interest, he decided to switch things up and allow bidders a little extra time to go through the lots and mark which ones they were interested in purchasing. Those items were moved up on the roster and sold first.

His strategy paid off, said Quiter. Although he only sold about 75 lots — about a third of his inventory — he still met his minimum goal of $1,500, he said. And more importantly, the bidders who were there walked away satisfied and saying they would return, said Quiter, which is what’s most important.

Quiter plans to hold his next auction on Sept. 14. Viewing for the auction will be from 3 to 5 p.m. that day The auction will begin at 5 p.m., at 45 Knight St. For more information, see www.winneyauction.com.

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