It was fun. We had never been to the Balsams. I have stayed at the Mount Washington a few times (twice for Thanksgiving I think) but had never made it to the Balsams. Actually I had never been further than Errol. So this was an experience. I was suitably impressed with the Great North Woods.
The Balsams looks spectacular from a distance. It had to have been quite the resort. Obviously it is not at its best right now.
The inside was depressing, cold and musty. Though it was the nicest day, weather wise he had had in weeks, it was chilly inside the hotel and I (usually warm blooded) kept an insulated vest on all day.
There was a lot of people. Parking was crazy though we got there by 9am. Everybody though was in good cheer and convivial. It was a party atmosphere. We enjoyed the experience and was glad we made the effort to drive the ~160 odd (and some of it was indeed very odd) miles.
The auction, however, was appalling, both in terms of organization and execution! I can’t claim to be a connoisseur of auctions but I have been to some. This was beyond a joke. It was like a parody of an auction; a Saturday Night Live (SNL) skit making fun of us yokels in NH trying to hold an auction. I have no experience of North Country Auctions, but they should be ashamed. When I heard on WMUR this morning that the auction made around $250,000, after selling ~2,400 items, it confirmed my worst fears.
I had, as is my wont, visited the North Country Auctions ‘Web site’ twice before we set off. The Web site looks like it was designed in the 1950s by color-blind, visually impaired wall-paper hanger with just one good arm. Huge type in red seems to be their idea of finesse. Technology was conspicuous by its absence. In August 1967, when we were leaving Ceylon to move to Buffalo, my parents auctioned off the contents of our (fairly large) house in Colombo. The auction yesterday, in terms of technology, was no different! All they had was a portable sound system. There were no laptops, let alone iPads and no jumbo displays to project the items being auctioned. It was pitiful.
I remember at least 4 auctions that were arbitrarily re-called and redone. If I had been the winner of one of those I would have been very upset. There was confusion as to prices and actually what was being auctioned. They claimed they were auctioning 4 lots of 3 antique movie projectors. That was supposed to be a typo! They only had 4 projectors. It was pathetic.
We didn’t bid on 2 many items. I bid on the 2008 Presidential tally board — from when Obama was elected. I went up to $300. It eventually sold for $400 (according to WMUR), though I though it stopped with the bid after mine (and I kind of suspected that the house was bidding against me). I also tried to bid on a plastic Coke bin. Though I was standing up on a chair waving my card, they ignored my bid and sold it to a lady for $10. C’est la vie.
After the auction I am not impressed with the business acumen of the two (supposed) businessman who are the new owners of the Balsams. Their choice of Auctioneer let a lot to be desired. Organization was dreadful and while I know that that far up north there are very few laws, I am sure that they still managed to violate a few (but, I could be wrong). With all those people in attendance, I did not see a single uniformed policeman, a security guard or an ambulance (and I walked the entire perimeter of the hotel twice). There were a lot of old people there. Security was bad! Items were being taken from rooms and job lots. All they did was make announcements pleading with people not to steal. I did not see any checkout process. This was a joke. They could have done much better.