September is known for apple picking, back to school and the New Vernon, NJ Volunteer Fire Department’s annual auction. Huh, you reply? What is the New Vernon Fire Department Auction? Well, if you live around bucolic Harding (New Vernon,) New Jersey, everyone knows (or should know) about this 56 year old flea market and auction of household items from A to Z. From used cars to electronics, there is something for everyone.
Starting right before Labor Day, the New Vernon fire department and Ladies Fire Department Auxillary tirelessly collects and sort endless clothes, furniture, bric a brac, electronics, and books from the homeowners of the town. It is assembled in different areas at the fire station for auction or for general flea market sale.
There is a white elephant tent, used bicycle area, used books, electronics and lamps, clothing, vintage jewelry and more. It is mind boggling that each year, there is such an enormous amount of household products donated to the Fire Department.
It is one of their biggest fundraisers of the year and substantially helps to offset operating costs of this all volunteer Fire Department and First Aid Squad. The Fire Department does not receive any funds from the town.
This auction is not your usual flea market and is populated by many dealers, locals and people who travel to see if they can snag that one of a kind treasure. Last year, I bought sconces for $5 each that were in a bag under a table, which I guess are from the 1940’s. (See picture above.) In addition, I bought heavy brass lamps for the same price.
Not only is the white elephant sale enormously fun, the auction is so entertaining. The auctioneer is engaging, funny, and remarkably adept at what he does. Beautiful vintage pieces from early American to brand new products went up on the block and were sold for a mere fraction of their value. My husband bought a brand new wine cork remover for pennies. The auction process is so much fun. You waive your number in the air and hope that you can walk away with a great bargain.
When September rolled around this year I told all my friends about this auction. I was so excited to see the tent go up at the fire station. This year, I vowed I would get there early and find some amazing hidden treasurers. The white elephant sale starts at 7am with an 8am preview of the auction items. This year I could not get my lazy tush out of bed since I was up too late posting to my website.
When we got to the auction at 10:00 am, cars were everywhere. Last year, we strolled around the white elephant sale, but this year, we immediately went to the auction. Every place I tried to sit I was told the seats were reserved. I was worried that I would not be able to find a seat. A patron explained I had to pay $4 for a reserved seat.
Luckily, I found a seat near a friend. We both watched as beautiful runners, paintings, and furniture went up on the auction block. An entertainment armoire came on the auction block (see the bottom half of the amoire pictured above) and I made my way up to the front of the stage to open its drawers and inspect it. To my surprise, the last drawer was full of socks!
Guess what I paid for this piece? Come on, just guess. How many think I paid $500 and above. A show of hands please. How many think I paid more? Okay, are you sitting down. I paid $100. No lie. Plus, I got all the old socks too. Finger puppets for everyone. I told you this auction was fun.
Around 1 pm, the auctioneer turned to the items outside the tent. I was amazed that he was going to auction off cars (including a Range Rover, old Audi 4 door sedan, and a dump truck), lawn mowers, garden furniture, and air compressors. The crowd was in a circle, which made the auction more exciting. You had to scream and wave your ticket for him to see you.
During the auction, a Labrador tray came up for sale. The woman next to us waved her ticket several times and won the tray. She screamed with delight, and said, “I have a Labrador! I have never been to an auction before.” She was so happy, and it just made me smile.
Everyone was a winner today. The town people got rid of their unwanted belongings, less went into a landfill, people walked away with treasures, and best of all the Fire Department sirens kept on ringing. How much greener can you get?
So, what happens to the endless bric a brac which did not sell? Chris, from the Fire Department, explained that a hauler comes and separate items for recycling and the rest is thrown away.
Mark you calendar Tri-Staters for next year to visit this beautiful area of New Jersey where waiving your auction ticket is an adventure. Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones walking away with a one of a kind treasurer. Until, next September….
Readers, do you have a flea market or auction sale in your area that is too good to be true? Come on and dish about the details. What is your favorite find at the auction? When is the auction? Can you see it online? Everyone is in search of that unbelievable find. Remember, it is the hunt that is more fun then the find!