It's definitely a sign of the times. As a culture, a civilization, a people, we are doing more things online. Every Christmas reports a higher percentage of online shopping. Ebay - with its numerous forms of of online auction offerings - has become a huge business and wildly popular in recent years. Is it any surprise that the equine industry may follow suit?
One of the leaders of the stock horse industry's auction houses, Professional Auction Services, has elected to offer their Mid Winter Sale online this year. Although I did not interview the Jennings, I have attended a few of their sales in this area over the last 15 years, and it is pretty obvious to me why they might try something a little different. First, as a leader in their field, isn't it almost their right and duty to start a new trend? Secondly, with the faltering numbers of sales' average prices, isn't it smart to give something new a whirl? I have fully a dozen or more folks on my speed dial that thought just ten years ago the February Raleigh sale was a great place to both buy and sell who NOW think just the opposite, especially about selling. The prices just aren't there (as in many places in the economy - this is not meant to be taken as a poor reflection of this particular sale). So if the prices are no longer high, and this seems to be an unchangeable fact by PAS or anyone else, what is the logical next step? Cutting costs.
An online auction provides both sellers and auction house a much cheaper way to get horses hooked up with new owners. Potential buyers are given an allotted amount of time to view and research the consignments, who are listed with indepth information on the Internet. The auction house does not have to rent a facility or pay as many employees. The consignor is not forced to travel with the horse for sale, saving potentially hundreds of dollars. As an added bonus, the consigned horses have the opportunity to stay much healthier at home.
Buying online has become standard as sites like equine.com and dreamhorse.com have grown tremendously over the last decade. Facebook and youtube also have a fair amount of online equine advertising, so the basic concept is not new or foreign to horse owners. Personally I have sold all but two horses in the last six years online without any personal contact from the buyer beforehand.
The potential downside is forcing owners to make decisions quickly could result in lower sales' prices, but hey, if the flipside is feeding said animal for another six months and getting an extra $500, have you really lost anything?
My initial response to this endeavor from Professional Auction Services is positive. I am hoping that they get a great response and the consignments sell for a fair price. My only fear is that (in this first sale) the word has not gotten out and the prices may be artificially low due to lack of participation, but you know, we have to start somewhere.
Comments on online horse sales? Leave them below! Let me know what you think!
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