Cent auctions are a variation on silent auctions and are often used where your prices are of a lower value than those used in the silent auction. It is a very simple type of auction to run and you can make your stall look very attractive by displaying your prizes well. These kind of events are ideal for children as the low cost of items being bid on means that everyone can get involved and have fun.
Your whole stall will be dedicated to displaying your prizes so make sure they are well wrapped and attractive. You will normally have several items grouped together to form a substantial prize, so put those prizes into a large basket, hamper, laundry basket or gift box, then wrap in cellophane and finish with large bows. Your prizes will look enticing and the bidding will begin! Display your prizes at the back of your stall, clearly number them and have a list of the contents of that prize for people to view.
At the front of your cent auction stall you place a series of containers numbered to match your prizes. Make a nicely decorated box with a slot to accept guests’ bids. Ensure your boxes are big enough to take plenty of tickets. Customers will use these boxes to place their bids for desirable items.
Tickets should be sold as a sheet that all bear the same number and come with a stub that is retained by the purchaser. This stub is used to claim prizes and the rest of the tickets are the ‘bids’. The sheets are sold for a nominal amount – $1 or $2. Traditionally a sheet contained 100 tickets and was sold for $1, hence the name ‘cent’ auction. Your buyer can place as many tickets as he wants in each box – if there is one particular item he is after he can place all his tickets in that box, or he can spread them over all the prizes.
It is a good idea to have a complete list of prizes and their approximate drawing times to hand out to everybody attending your event.
Have your cent auctions drawn progressively throughout the event. Start your draws with the cheaper items first and move up to a main item for the highlight of the event. Make sure the draw is announced so that people have the opportunity to place last minute bids. When the auction closes, the box is removed from the cent auction area and taken to the ‘auctioneer’ who draws a ticket from the box. The winning number is announced and the holder of that numbered stub is able to claim his prize. Remember that your event will only run for a limited amount of time, so ensure you allow yourself enough time between auctions to cover all prizes. Have your MC announcing draws throughout the event and get him to promote ‘the big one’.
You can add excitement to your event by having special spot prizes. Don’t have these on display, rather have these announced by the auctioneer and then have volunteers pass through the crowd with a box collecting numbers (and selling tickets). A good auctioneer can really whip up some excitement this way for special items.
Make a list of each lot, itemise all the components of the prize and the lot number, and have these clearly displayed on your stall. It is important to show exactly what is contained in each lot. Cent auctions are a lot of fun that can be enjoyed by patrons of all ages. They make a great addition to any fete or awards day.