Retiring Caineses auction home, business

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People can collect a lot of good stuff from being in business for almost three decades.

That's why about 100 members of the public showed up when John and Shirley Caines auctioned most of the working parts of their car repair and used car sales company, Austam International Inc., on Saturday and Sunday.

The Craig couple is moving to Florida to retire and be closer to family. To do that, the Caineses also auctioned off their home, much of its furnishings and a few parcels of land.

Auctioning off their assets, would "hurry things up," John Caines said of the total sale he estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A box of screwdrivers went for $7.50 and a car lift for $2,200 soon after auctioneer Steve Claypoole launched into his hurried speech Saturday morning. A sampling of other items that would later go home with the highest bidder included cases of transmission fluid, used cars, a couple all-terrain vehicles and a smattering of automotive parts and tools.

Gene Updike came away with a gear puller for $25, which he considered a good deal, though he didn't initially plan on purchasing it. Updike lingered at the edge of the gathering waiting to bid on a spark plug cleaner to use on his hay wagon, an item he said he wouldn't bid more than $10 for. "The problem is when you buy something at an auction, you're not really sure if it's going to work," he said. "It's kind of like pulling the lever on a slot machine."

Updike agreed that having an auction is a good way for someone to liquidate his or her belongings.

"If you're going to get out, this is the way you do it," he said. "This way at least you know somebody is going to pay a dollar for it."

Jack Anderson was doing more observing than buying Saturday, as he stood back and considered the fast-paced purchasing a form of entertainment. "I wonder how many of these things will end up in a yard sale," he mused. When bidding for an industrial-sized car lift stalled at $1,000, Anderson wished aloud that he had that amount in his pocket.

"For the most part, things are selling for about 50 cents on the dollar, which is a pretty good deal," he said.

Mike Thompson compared the auction to others in Grand Junction where the bidding almost always was pushed higher, or about 75 cents on the dollar. "Craig's a hard town to sell in," he said. "I've seen used tools sell at other auctions (in Grand Junction) that were close to what they cost new."

Mickey Green, owner of Lube Plus across Victory Way, wandered over to check out the commotion. With some competition moving away, Green thought he might earn some more business at his automotive shop.

Green eyed some of the tools on the auction block and expressed an interest in bidding on them. One can never have enough tools in the automotive business, he said.

As the crowd pushed closer to the auctioneer when bigger items went to bid, a couple of bystanders commented on how easily some bidders got lost in the moment. "I've been to these things before," Green said. "People go crazy. They get so wound up in it."

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