Behind the Scenes – How RIAC Sells Your Old Guns
By Joel Kolander
“What Happens When RIAC Sells My Old Guns?”
Unless you’ve had a tour of our facility or seen our materials at a gun show, you might not know what happens when you sell your old guns with Rock Island Auction. This week, we’ll take you behind-the-scenes to get a look at just what goes on inside our facility and the steps each and every old gun takes once inside our 86,000 sq. ft. facility.
Not surprisingly, the first step is to get the guns in the building. Overseen by our Incoming Department, firearms arrive in a number of ways: traditional shippers, people deliver them here themselves, or our own DOT-Certified drivers go to pick them up. However they get here, they all come through the big garage doors and get their first taste of our climate-controlled warehouse. In the photo below, you can see the large curtain that surrounds the large bay doors. This helps stabilize the climate in the warehouse and is also energy efficient. To further maintain this environment, massive 15′ ceiling fans have also been installed.
Once in incoming, the firearms are checked to be unloaded and given an inventory number. This information is documented on a tag that is then placed on the item and will accompany it until we sell the old gun. Other important information on the firearm is also determined in Incoming: which auction it will be placed in, which items it will be in a lot with (if any), and what additional photos need to be taken. All this information, including the gun’s basics (make, model, serial number, action, caliber, etc), is recorded in our database. With all this completed, we notify our consignor of the item’s status and the collectibles are free to move on to the next stage.
The firearms go to any of the four photography stations in our warehouse. Besides being used in our catalogs, these photographs are also used on our website to make the online catalog, as well as our numerous print and online ads. Because of this, the photos must be attention grabbing, but they must also be honest. It’s our goal to show the old gun accurately: no better, no worse. These photos are the strong base, as well as the eye-catching glitz and glam of our award-winning catalogs.
Rock Island Auction Company has long prided its photography and catalogs, and rightly so. Staying on the cutting edge of the field, we were the first in the industry to adopt full-color photography for a catalog, and approximately 11 years later, we were the first in the industry to switch to digital photography. We’ve also been first for a number of other innovative adoptions such as publishing a fluid cylinder scene shot. You could say we take this seriously.
If you’ve seen our Premiere Catalogs, you already know that each collectible firearm gets a guaranteed headline, a detailed description, as well as a specific condition statement. Our Regional catalogs also receive a headline and a condition grade. The folks behind all that work are part of the Descriptions department. They physically inspect every single gun in each and every auction. They are also an important part of answering hundreds of specific questions by bidders so they can bid with confidence. Once guns have been described and photographed, they are placed in a meticulously organized system. When you sell over 25,000 collector firearms annually, such organization is crucial.
As soon as the guns have photographs, our Marketing team can begin its work. They are a combination of a graphics and advertising departments. Graphics designs the entire catalog, cover-to-cover, our 16-page Preview Booklet, as well as creates dozens of ads for major newspapers, industry publications, web banners, special flyers, and other promotional materials, like the signs you see if you stop by our booth at a gun show. They take the already outstanding photography and provide eye-catching settings for it. I think we can all agree, they do exceptional work to help sell your guns.
Auction – Time to Sell Your Old Guns!
Finally, the big day arrives! The first chance that collectors have to see the guns in person is our Preview Day. This is the day prior to each auction where folks from across the country come to inspect, pick up, touch, look at, shoulder, and evaluate each and every gun in the auction. It’s been nicknamed “The Museum You Can Touch” by more than one collector and we couldn’t agree more. The best part is this museum rotates a lot more frequently and you can buy the old gun exhibits.
The auction takes place over a weekend and is typically three to four days long. Thousands of sealed/absentee bids pour in the weeks prior to the auction, and the excitement builds as each one is placed. Hundreds of people attend in person, hundreds more bid live via telephone, and online participants can feel like part of the action with our live audio & video streaming.
As each auction day begins, the items that will sell that day are cordoned off in the Preview Hall so that those items may be prepped. Antiques can go home with buyers that day, but many are prepared for shipping. Our Shipping Department earns frequent praise for their “Fort Knox” like packages, and rightly so. Old guns and other items are bubble wrapped at potential wear points, small pieces are wrapped individually, the whole gun is additionally bubble wrapped, and then liberally shrink wrapped. This is then surrounded with packing peanuts and double boxed. As one customer put it, “My gun could have fallen out of the back of the truck and never seen a scratch.” While not our specific goal, that comes close. The collectible firearms that we ship must arrive to buyers in the exact same condition in which they left. Not only is it our duty to the buyers, it’s our responsibility to these amazing guns so that they can be preserved for future generations.
After that, the old guns are out the door and on their way to the ready hands of a new collector, shooter, or even investor. Of course, this isn’t a linear process, where when one auction finishes, we begin the next. Our teams are constantly performing these duties with one auction flowing right into the next, ready to give the next grouping of firearms the Rock Island Auction treatment. If you’d like to sell your guns, bladed weapons, or militaria to receive the fruits of the hardest working company in the business, please contact us at 1-800-238-8022 or email us at [email protected]. We’d be happy to answer any questions and show you why we’ve been the #1 firearms auction house in the world since 2003.