Auction house to shut doors on long history

By Mike Regan

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END OF AN ERA: Thomson Bagley Auctions is to close its doors next Friday. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
END OF AN ERA: Thomson Bagley Auctions is to close its doors next Friday. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

What is believed to be the second-oldest general goods auction house in New Zealand is to close its doors in Whangarei next Friday.

Thomson Bagley Auctions has been part of the Whangarei business landscape since 1923, and there would be many in the city who have attended the regular weekly auctions. However, due to the ill health of owner Dave Hodson that history is to end.

Staff at the Port Rd site have been busy returning for-sale items to owners, which can be collected between 10am and 2pm, from Monday to Friday.

Goods not collected will be disposed of by Thomson Bagley Auctions. Any remaining company assets will be sold in a closing down, no reserve auction on Saturday at the 69 Port Rd site.

According to Morris Cutforth, who owned the business with Chris Finlay from 1987 to 2007, "it is a very sad day for Whangarei and the auction industry".

"It was a good business for us, a fantastic business. We opened after the '87 crash when there was so much stuff being sold by receivers. It was also an amazing social event to be part of - we developed some great relationships with clients," said Mr Cutforth.

"When builders had a lot of work we always did well - but we could also do well when the economy was struggling."

Mr Cutforth said Thomson Bagley Auctions had at times been at the cutting edge of auctioneering.

"We were the first in the country to introduce buyer premiums - we were nervous that could be the end of us but the business really picked up after that."

Thomson Bagley Auctions was also the first to computerise auction contents. Mr Cutforth said the business could at times struggle but there was always something to be positive about.

However, he had a lot of sympathy for Mr Hodson being forced out of the business through ill health, but said he understood high rents had not helped the business' viability.

The business was first set up by Eric Thomson and Les Bagley in a three-storey building opposite the Town Hall. Mr Cutforth believed the auction house was on three other sites in its 93-year history, moving from Bank St to Lower James St, then Reyburn St before its current site in Port Rd.

He said the advent of small secondhand shops had not helped the auction business but the major factor had been the advent of online auction websites.

-The closure leaves just one auction house in Northland - Northland Auctions in Awanui, just north of Kaitaia.

Brad Jackson, who has owned Northland Auctions for six years, said he was sorry to hear Thomson and Bagley was closing as he had had a great relationship with Mr Hodson - the two had worked together on several projects. He said several people had suggested he set up a branch in Whangarei but he was not interested. "The fishing up here is too good - I'm here for the lifestyle, not the stress."

He said the oldest auction house in New Zealand was George Walker, which opened in 1908.

- Northern Advocate

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