New auction house now taking bids in Batesburg-Leesville

Wayne Sturgeon (center) and family recently opened the doors to Prosperity Auction in a former discount store that had stood empty. Now, they’re matching collectors with those special items during twice-weekly auctions. (Staff photo by Tony Baughman)

 

Father-and-son team Wayne and Ash Sturgeon are going once, going twice – and SOLD on the idea of being part of the business community in Batesburg-Leesville.

Last week, the Sturgeon family opened the doors of Prosperity Auction Company’s new headquarters in the Rose’s shopping center, right next door to the venerable old department store on U.S. 1 in Batesburg-Leesville. Their first official auction in the new-to-them building was held New Year’s Day, and about 70 people showed up for the first four hours of bidding.

“We just started looking for getting more traffic flow and a little bigger building,” said Wayne Sturgeon, a licensed auctioneer. “You could put three of the building we were in into this building. We had warehouses full of stuff, and we wanted to get it under one roof.”

In all, the Batesburg-Leesville location offers the Sturgeons around 19,000 square feet of retail and warehouse space.

“I’ve always enjoyed the auction,” Mr. Sturgeon said. “I’ve worked the auctions at the Coca-Cola conventions in Atlanta, the national conventions, so I just decided to go get my license – which I’ve always wanted to do and finally broke down and did it.”

Prosperity Auction Company has operated for three years just 23 miles up the road in Newberry County and has been successful, but it was time for a change.

“We did weekly auctions, but our estate sale business got so good, we didn’t have time to do the live auctions,” Mr. Sturgeon said. “Moving to Batesburg, we’re going back to doing live auctions on Friday and Saturday nights.”

The weekly auction on Fridays likely will feature estate sale items, while the Saturday auctions will focus on new merchandise. “Either we’ll have the merchandise ourselves, or we’ll have dealers come in to sell,” Mr. Sturgeon said.

Prosperity Auction also will handle a limited number of estate sales, and they have embraced the technology of online sales.

“I booked an estate sale in Edgefield yesterday, and actually, it turned out to be roughly three sales,” Mr. Sturgeon said. “One of them is going to be an online sale with farm implements, a tractor, stuff like that. Another sale is going to clean out a retail shop and bring that merchandise here to sell, and the other one is a two-story house with a lot of old antiques.”

Among the most popular items offered by Prosperity Auction Company are old advertising signs and other logo collectibles. In the back of the auction house, vintage gas station and grocery store signs line the walls. Of course, always-popular Coca-Cola collectibles are scattered all around the retail space.

“We’re hoping to do an advertisement consignment sale here. I’ve talked to one gentleman about selling his entire collection,” Mr. Sturgeon said.

Prosperity Auction Company invites potential bidders to come by during the week to check out in advance the items expected to be featured during the weekend sales. During the week, Ash Sturgeon is happy to walk customers around the sales floor, pointing out items of special interest.

It’s not just business for the Strugeon family. It’s about being a good neighbor.

“We’ll do anything we can to help the public,” Wayne Sturgeon said. “We’ll do like a 50/50 drawing; half the money goes to the person that wins, the other half we’re going to give to a local charity. If somebody gets burned out and needs certain items, they can come to us and need certain items, we’ll be happy to donate it to them.”

And of course, it’s a family business. Not only is Mr. Sturgeon’s son Ash, a former banker, now involved in the company alongside his dad; on auction nights, one of Mr. Sturgeon’s grandchildren stands next to him at the front of the audience, helping to keep track of bidders.

Even the family pet is part of the enterprise.

“We’ve got an inside joke, my wife and myself, that our chihuahua is the CEO. Sophie rules the roost,” Mr. Sturgeon said with a chuckle. “I work for Sophie. I work for her French fry money.” She’s just a happy-go-lucky little rescue pup, and she’s the boss.”

Story by Tony Baughman / Published January 9, 2020