After my graphic design internship ended about a month ago, I began to work on an on-call basis for a company that has been in my family for a long time now. In fact, without this company, I probably would never have been born. Spooky, right?
The company, Mapes Auctioneers & Appraisers, is where my grandma Carol started working around the late 1970’s or so. People come to Mapes with antiques/estates that they want to sell, and we sell them in weekly auctions. My grandma was the office manager, and my dad started working for Mapes in his teens as well. By the time he graduated high school, he even did some auctioneering himself and considered it as a potential career. Around this time my mom finished business school and Grandma hired her to help out, leading to her meeting my dad. It’s crazy how some things work out. My mom still works there as the present office manager.
When I turned 16, I started helping out at the weekly auctions too. I would hold up the items for the bidders and help my mom with office work. I did this until I graduated high school. Then I would only help occasionally when I was home from college. This summer I returned on a more frequent basis, and I’ve even gone in during the week to unpack boxes and sort antiques. It’s been a good experience, and I’m the only one who can say they are a third generation employee.
The auction/antique business is an interesting one, and you never know what treasures you will find. Some items for sale are modern, like appliances and used furniture (some of which have been given a new life in my dorm room). But some sales have featured pottery, jewelry, paintings, and old advertising, which are more of my cup of tea. I still have the news clipping from when I witnessed a Victor Higgins painting auctioned off for $728,000 a few years ago. Auctions/antique stores are surprisingly great places to learn about art, and I am glad to have grown up with one nearby. I highly recommend going to an auction if you haven’t before. You’ll encounter new items, valuables, and customers—all of which have a lot of character.