B&B Auctions, a family tradition
For 38 years the Bertrand family has sold almost anything at auction. Opening its doors on July 13, 1971, B&B Auctions has become one of the longest running and most unique businesses in Orange County.
European antiques can be purchased at Texas prices.
“My husband, Bert and I started the business and ran it until he died in 2003. My sons Rick and Roger run it with me, now. It is what Bert wanted us to do,” said Frankie Bertrand.
Originally the auction house took local items on consignment for citizens of Orange and the surrounding area. The business has since evolved into an enterprise that works with shippers in England and receives 40-foot containers filled with everything from old dishes to European antique furniture.
“We had to stop taking local consignments when the items we were receiving were of a lower quality than what we wanted to sell. Our aim was always to find quality items that people would be able to afford at a reasonable cost,” said Rick Bertrand.
Since the death of “Colonel Bert,” Rick has taken the auctioneer duties. Roger and Roger’s son, Matt, do whatever else needs to be done on auction nights, while Frankie runs the office.
“I learned to call numbers when I was 14. Daddy was at auctioneer school learning to call a little better than he had been. He called home one night and I told him I had a surprise for him, but I would not tell him what it was until he came home. When he got home I played him a tape of me calling numbers. He was real surprised and said I was better than he was.
“I went to school later on because I needed to learn the business side of auctions,” said Rick.
Auctioneers in Texas have to have a license and go to refresher courses and be re-certified each year. Only auctioneers who have gone to school and followed and passed the course of study have earned the right to the title “colonel.”
Rick Bertrand became a “colonel” in 1985. He earned his title 10 years, almost to the date, after his father had earned his.
“Shipping cost have risen so much that there are only two shippers that we have working with us at this time. Others stopped due to the high cost, but the two we have now have been with us a long time and send us a steady amount of goods on a regular basis,” said Rick.
When a container arrives at the auction house, it is like opening a 40 foot surprise box. The Bertrands are never sure what they will find inside.
The latest consignment that is due to be sold on June 2, contained a number of tables, chairs, dressers and cabinets, bedroom sets, stained glass, boxes of china dishes, house wares, a hand-cranked Singer sewing machine and an antique grandfather clock dated between 1790 and 1830.
“Right now it is a buyer’s market. Prices are down. For example the stained glass we have is desirable because it has some pink glass in it. It will probably sell for about half of the price of five years ago.
Now is really a good time to come and buy. We have dealers that buy from us on a regular basis, but the independent buyer is able to compete with them very well,” said Rick.
“A lot of the stuff we get in is a little on the dirty side, but I polish and wax it and have it looking good before it ever goes on the floor. We want our buyers to know that we only want them to have quality items,” said Frankie.
The auction house opens the day before the auctions from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. for the public to view the items that will be sold at auction. On the day of the auction, viewing is from 4 until 6:30 p.m.
“When we are open for viewing we will answer any question that any one has about anything. We will be truthful about the woods that are used, the way things are made, the age of the items or anything else that they would want or need to know. Once the auction starts we just sell, we do not answer any questions. The time to see what we have and to ask the questions is when we have our viewings,” said Rick.
Once the auctions begin the Bertrands are all business. The object is to sell in a timely manner and not waste anyone’s time.
Rick picks a starting bid based on his vast knowledge of the business and starts the bidding at a reasonable rate. He does this to keep things moving and does a good job. Most auctions end after about two and one half hours.
Buyers are expected to pay the night of the auction and are given a reasonable time to pick up their purchases. All of the rules are clearly posted in the building.
In addition to being an auctioneer, Rick is also a master craftsman. He operates a furniture restoration business in a building connected to the auction house.
There does not appear to be any part of an item built with wood that he cannot duplicate or repair in a way that defies the observer to find the replacement part.
Rick has a vast knowledge of the woods used in furniture manufacture and top quality tools to repair virtually anything that needs to be repaired.
B&B Auctions is located about one mile east of the intersection of Texas 62 and Farm Road 105, near the Orange Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo Arena on 105.
Auctions are held every three weeks on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.The future auction dates are; June 2, 24, July 14, Aug. 4 and 25.