The process was much the same as the cattle sale, except that any price seemed to be acceptable and the range of items being sold was extensive. Everything from packs of shirts, underpants, hats and shoes to cash registers, shop cabinets and a range of mannequins was available to be had. Buyers registered and were given a number to keep track of who had bought what. One experienced sale-goer had tucked his number into his hat band. "Number 30" was visible where ever he went. While I was there, I didn't notice him buy anything, but he certainly looked like a rival for whatever took your fancy.
The dry humour of the auctioneer made the experience an entertainment, even if you weren't in the market for menswear or shop fittings.
"Lot 27 - a straw hat, size very small - for a very small head...no good for you sir! Do I hear $20?"
A man called Marty got a hard time whenever small sized shirts were being sold: "You'll have to pass that one up Marty!"
"Next lot - 10 green ties." The auctioneer paused as he searched for the sales pitch. "Good for a team! How about a fancy dress party? Do I hear $20?"
"Next lot - 10 blue ties!" He shook his head and just asked for a bid.
"Next lot - 10 pairs of briefs! (What size are they?) Assorted sizes! (pause) Outfit the whole family!" I heard him chuckle under his breath that it was the first time he'd auctioned underpants.
Bargains were being snapped up. Everything was being sold. Occasionally the bidding went down and someone would snare a bargain; other times it was a fierce and exciting contest. Eye contact with the auctioneer and his assistant was everything. The more experienced buyers could be detected by the subtlety of their bidding - the merest suggestion of a head movement and the bid was theirs. The greener waved their numbers in the air and they had the bid. I was standing amongst a group of seasoned bidders and was terrified of buying something I didn't want and couldn't transport back to Melbourne. Knowing my luck, an itchy nose would result in the purchase of 23 boxes of wooden coathangers ( a bargain at $5); a stray hair would lead to being saddled with a collection of unidentifiable "sundry goods" (daylight robbery at $5), a passing fly and I'd be the proud owner of 5 pairs of cufflinks!
I noticed a few people buying the packs of assorted sizes and lots of things like "10 black wallets" and wondered if they had their own store. Perhaps they were stocking up for Christmas. Others were trying on hats and boots and sizing up shirts, clearly stocking up their own wardrobe.
We left after about an hour and while it seemed that a mountain of goods had been sold, it was only a tiny proportion of everything that was on offer. I would have been happy to buy the three drawer filing cabinet that I spied at the back of the shop, but the logistics of excess baggage on a flight back to Melbourne were too much to contemplate.
|All eyes on a bargain at Blowes.|
© 2014 divacultura