|Gene McKown has auctioned everything from Oklahoma University memorabilia to a rare Mercedes Benz for $100,000.|
As a boy, Gene McKown of Ideal Homes in Norman, Okla., went to a "pie supper" and witnessed an auction for the first time.
"The auctioneer took a $1.50 necktie from someone in the first row and sold it for $10," McKown says. "I knew then that this was something I wanted to do."
After college, McKown enrolled in auction classes. Since then, his reputation as an auctioneer has grown to the point where he now books 25 to 30 events each year. The local Junior League, 4-H Club and other service organizations are the beneficiaries. McKown estimates he has overseen 500 charity auctions over the past 30 years.
Unlike what many think, the key skill for charity auctioneers is not the ability to talk quickly. Instead, says McKown, the focus is on selling.
"If I can go into situations where there are $15,000 or $16,000 worth of items for sale and make $20,000 or $25,000," says McKown, "I feel good about it."
But that does not mean McKown does not do his share of fast talking. At the 4-H Pig Auction, kids like to hear it, he says. "It adds an element of showmanship to it."
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