Bernie Payne, of Elkhart, has been an auctioneer since 1962. He does estate sales, antiques, farms, business close-outs and more. To contact Payne, call him at 219-522-3724.
Q: How did you become an auctioneer?
A: This couple was moving to California. So they said, “Why don’t you have the auction?” So, I had it and it was successful. Everyone said, “Boy, you better get a license.” So I did. I went to (auctioneer) school, got a license and that was it.
Q: What is it that you like about it?
A: I’ve always liked to stand in front of a group. I guess that was it. I still love it.
Q: How many auctions do you do?
A: Right now, I don’t have any. I could have one by the end of the day. I’ve turned some down because it’s been so cold.
Q: Was this a full-time job?
A: No, no. I worked at NIBCO for 37 years. I would (auctioneer) on weekends or take off.
Q: How do auctioneers get so good at talking so fast?
A: It’s just a lot of practice. You just “sell” stuff. The schools, what they always teach you to do is, if you’re driving along, to “sell” telephone poles. Or whatever. They teach you, “I’m bidder one, gonna go two, two we’re to go three, three we’re gonna go four, four to go five” then you speed it up. That’s it.
Q: What’s one of the more interesting things you’ve sold?
A: I sold human bodies, like in a vase, the ashes. I’ve sold caskets. I’ve sold out supermarkets like Martin’s. I’ve sold out woodshops, machine shops. A lot of estates.
Q: Do you see any sign of slowing down?
A: Yeah, I do. I’m very selective in what I take on. I have to go look at it before I’ll take it on. I don’t want to sell dirty things.