Rookie auction beats out previous year

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As a fundraising experiment, the first annual Virtual Marketplace for the 2012 Tweeds Holiday Home Tour signaled a green light and a “go” for 2013.

“It was a decent rookie season,” said Cord Prettyman who, with Karolyn Smith, led the committee that launched the online auction. “We had a lot of action, a lot of interest.”

Rookie or not, the online auction beat out all the previous years for bottom-line results. At $3,380, the net proceeds reflected an increase of $499 over 2011, which had been the best year to date.

“We were blessed with having things like the cars and the baseballs which got us a lot of attention,” Prettyman said, referring to two of the star-studded donations. The baseballs were signed by 10 U.S. Presidents and the cars, donated anonymously, were a 1982 Corvette and a 2007 Pontiac Solstice.

In a re-cap of the marketplace launch, Prettyman and Smith marvel at some of the super-duper deals scored by the winning bettors. For instance, one lucky bidder won what the two view as the best deal of the auction, two nights at the Edgewood Inn, the entire inn, five rooms and common areas, for $610, a$2,630 value. “That was a steal,” Prettyman said, as Smith added, “Ridiculous.”

Savvy bidders scooped up other items to enhance their leisure time, among them, a two-night stay, including six meals and $40 in gambling chits, a $500 package for $203.

The autographed guitar by Def Leppard went for $550, the value estimated as “priceless” by the committee. “The things that went the fastest were the `consumables,'” Prettyman said.

Buoyed by success, the committee nonetheless plans to refine the process. “We want our program to be faster, more user-friendly, with more local consumables,” Prettyman said.

As it was, the bidders were chiefly in the Pikes Peak Region. “We were hoping to have a national presence and we should never have identified the bidder by name,” Prettyman said.

As well, potential buyers expressed frustration over the $2 incremental bids. “We weren't able to set the increments in $25 and weren't able to mark the items `sold.' Instead, the program just removed them from the site,” Smith said.

This year's home tour had a list of firsts, the first online auction and the first home-tour website, at www.hht.org. As well, the event Dec. 1 and 2 was the best ever, with more than 800 people viewing the homes in Woodland Park.

In spite of the stress and the unknowns, the committee is encouraged by the statistics that show 1,438 page views for the Virtual Marketplace from Nov. 16 to Dec. 9. Proceeds from the marketplace as well as the tour were donated to Teller Senior Coalition, Woodland Park Hockey Association and the Woodland Aquatic Project.

“I think it's accurate to say that we see the online auction as the future for fundraising through a marketplace versus a boutique setup,” Prettyman said.