Crawford Family Auctions comes to downtown Olympia

Growing business reflects people’s interests in buying, collecting

Staff writerMay 11, 2014 

  • CRAWFORD FAMILY AUCTIONS

    • Owners: Steve and Carmen Crawford.
    • Location: 415 Olympia Ave. NE, Olympia.
    • Type of business: Live and online auction business, specializing in coins, currency, comics, jewelry, collectibles, precious metals, antiques, sports memorabilia, toys, household goods and estates.
    • Years in business: Open since 2008.
    • Employees: Six, including Steve, Carmen and their son, Jesse.
    • Hours: In addition to auctions, the business also has retail hours, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
    • Online: crawfordfamilyauctions. com. The business also can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @auctions415.
    • Advice to business owners: Running a business is not a 9-to-5 existence; you need to eat, live, sleep and breathe it to make it successful, said owner Steve Crawford. Failure is not an option. The money you make is the byproduct of your effort. A positive attitude is a magnet for positive results.
    • Did you know? Steve Crawford used to collect sports memorabilia. One of his most valuable finds was a Super Bowl football autographed by the New England Patriots, including quarterback Tom Brady. Don’t get Crawford started on the show “Storage Wars” because he used to bid on storage units as a way to find stuff for his auctions. Before the show, the storage unit auctions typically were attended by a few people, but after the show became a hit, crowds of people appeared and drove up prices. He’s seen people, tax return in hand, bid on storage units only to find out that it’s filled with worthless junk. They don’t come back, he said.

Crawford Family Auctions got its start in the Roy area in 2008, beginning as an online auction business. It later added live auctions to its services and the business grew, eventually needing more space after it filled out its 3,000-square-foot former home.

That has brought the Crawford family to the heart of downtown Olympia where they quintupled their space needs, occupying 16,000 square feet at 415 Olympia Ave.

That’s the former home of South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity, which used the space for its offices and its store of recycled building materials. Habitat for Humanity has since moved to west Olympia on Cooper Point Road, not far from Goodwill.

But not everyone has gotten the message, said owner Steve Crawford with a chuckle.

Since moving into the building, Crawford has shown up to work some mornings and found a toilet, left outside by someone who didn’t notice that Habitat for Humanity has moved on.

But that will all change when the business has its first grand opening auctions. The business is set to auction off four truckloads of household items over two Saturdays, May 17 and May 24. The auctions begin at 4:30 p.m., he said.

Crawford, 55, has worked in sales for most of his life. But he also has been a collector, too, filling a extra bedroom with sports memorabilia and coins. He said he loves the treasure hunt and the history and nostalgia that certain items evoke.

But his wife, Carmen, finally urged him to sell some of his own stuff — he held onto a baseball card collection from 1959 — so he approached an auction company to sell it for him. Disappointed by the experience, it propelled him into business, deciding then that he could do a better job. He started with online auctions and now does both: live and online.

“The best form of revenge is success,” he said.

A typical auction at Crawford Family Auctions is about 300 lots and takes three to four hours to complete. They sell snacks during the auctions, plus the business is not far from a collection of food trucks on State Avenue. There is customer parking behind his building, Crawford added.

It is free to attend an auction, but those in attendance are asked to register and show a valid piece of identification. He also asks that people not park in the parking lot of a neighboring business.

Auctions can surprise you, said Crawford, recalling the day he put up for bid some not-so-old Green Hornet comic books. He valued them at about $20, but once the auction was complete, they sold for $480.

“Someone wanted them to complete a collection, or simply needed to have them,” he said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403
rboone@theolympian.com

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