Good, old country folks converge on the auction barn in Eclectic on Friday nights to buy, sell and trade everything from tomatoes to tools but mainly it’s just a good excuse to mingle with friends and friendly folk, according to the man known as Hutch.
Hutch is Richard A. Hutchinson, 58, who leases the cavernous metal building where the auction is held and clearly enjoys serving as the auctioneer.
Once you get past the big black bear holding a man’s head in his left paw and a lunch box in the other paw, it gets strange. But the people seem happy and quickly make newcomers welcome.
“Everybody is friendly, everybody knows everybody,” Hutchinson said. “They are just good, old country folks from all walks of life. The mayor comes in here, we’ve had some doctors in here. I know most of the people.
“We can’t sell guns and we don’t sell livestock but other than that we sell anything. We don’t sell chickens but we sell some stuffed ones.”
Hutchinson joked he even has a “zombie” for sale — a dusty, stuffed raccoon that’s losing some of its fur.
Eclectic Mayor Gary Davenport said he’s there most Friday nights.
“It’s a tradition here,” he said. “I love it. I buy and sell. I’m an auctioneer too. Best thing I ever bought here was probably some nice, old furniture, antiques. I don’t buy it unless it’s a bargain.”
Donald Strickland is another regular at the auction barn.
“Sometimes it’s good stuff, sometimes it’s just junk,” he said of the items he buys. “Like they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. A fun time is had by all. We are about like family but better than family. We don’t have to be around one another but we enjoy being with each other. We get to choose who we want to be with.”
Brady the auction dog is another regular, Strickland said. Walley Roberson is Brady’s owner but the dog doesn’t seem to care whose lap he plops down on as long as he’s petted.
“Brady is smarter than most folks here,” Strickland joked.
Strickland said he enjoys meeting friends and making new friends at the auctions but that doesn’t distract him when he spies a good bargain.
He isn’t crippled but recently bought a motorized wheelchair for $175 at the auction. It’s equipped with headlights, taillights and even turn signals. According to Strickland, a new one goes for about $5,000.
“It’s fun to play with,” he said. “The grandkids love to play with it.”
James “Duck” Nix, 62, who wears his graying beard down to his chest and his hair to his shoulders, said the auction is a lot of fun.
“I’ve been doing this about eight years and I like to get good deals and turn around and give other people good deals,” he said. “I’ve bought some saws that were pretty good electric saws. I’ve bought diecast (miniature) cars, knives, just a little bit of everything. I fit right in with the rednecks because I’m an old redneck.”
Like many others, Cheryl Crews, 56, comes for the good times and good deals.
“I’ve bought a lot of stuff,” she said. “I’ve bought Teddy bears and pictures. I’ve bought jackets, housewares, toys, all kinds of stuff.”
Lee Keeler, who said he’s in his late 60s, enjoys his role as the auction’s ring man.
“I come every Friday night ‘cause I like doing it, just seeing what they’ve got for sale, how people bid,” he said. “I’m called a ring man. That means you hold up an item for sale, help take the bids and deliver the merchandise to them. I’m not paid. I just do it for fun.”