‘The secret sauce’

tporter@lsjournal.comJuly 25, 2014 

To say the Icehouse is quaint would not do the historic building much justice.

Built in 1896, it is now the home of Icehouse Auction. Constructed of solid stone and full of period details, the historic structure has served as a backdrop for a live auction every Friday since the business opened in May.

The next auction begins at 6:30 p.m. tonight (July 25) at Icehouse, 203 SE Green St. Up for bid will be antiques, collectables, tools and other items and eclectic tidbits.

“I’ve wanted to open an auction house here for a long time because we don’t have one,” said Lee’s Summit resident Julie Mabry, acquisition manager for Icehouse Auction. “There are several around but they are not convenient for our community. I knew there was a need, but we just didn’t have the proper venue. When this place became available, it made sense once you were in here and looked around. It’s the perfect place to have an auction. It has a lot of historical value.”

Mabry said she and her silent partner husband and marketing manager Melanie Mabry operate the only auction house in Lee’s Summit. The draw, Mabry said, are the buyers and sellers.

“It’s actual more of a social event than anyone would quite imagine,” Mabry said. “A lot of people come just for the social interaction. It’s exciting.”

Longtime Lee’s Summit residents and avid collectors Linda and Darrell Murphy plan to have an estate sale at the upcoming auction. Linda Murphy said Icehouse has been a joy to work with and the hope is for the sale to go smoothly and profitably.

“Their crew is exceptional,” Murphy said. “most of them show up 30 minutes ahead of time and that’s a change of pace. I’ve been associated with auction houses for awhile, but to have one here is pretty neat. We’ve been collectors in our family for three or four generations but you can’t take it all with you. We just want to move it along. This (July 25 auction ) is just the first layer of it. Next Friday we’ll have another (estate sale) up at Icehouse Auction.”

Icehouse has only three employees, but they contract workers to haul and move items as well as contract auctioneers to conduct the actual auction. In their three months of operation in Lee’s Summit, Mabry said the business has seen a steady increase in participants that range from veteran collectors to young neophytes new to the highest bidder game.

Crowds on auction night range from 70-75 people on average, Mabry said.

“We have a lot of young people coming in here now that didn’t use to come in here before,” Mabry said. “A lot of old-timers have said they can’t believe how many young people have come in here. It really speaks to my vision that Lee’s Summit really needed an auction house.”

And how does one know if they have something of value to offer Icehouse, who can in turn offer it up for bid? Mabry, who said she has been in the auction business “a long time” shared a strategy.

“I think the secret sauce is if you look at something and think ‘Can I, in all honesty, sell this,’” she said. “But if you can’t sell it, don’t bring it around and that’s the truth. That’s kind of what keeps the auction business going; junk and things like that.”

To sneak a peek at items up for bid in tonight’s auction, visit www.icehouseauction.com.

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