Love of auctions leads to new career for Pickers Auction owner

Published 10:30 am Monday, March 23, 2015

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Pickers Auction Company draws in hundreds of people to downtown Elizabethton every month for weekly auctions that feature a variety of items for interested buyers.

Larry Vaughn, the owner of Pickers Auction, enjoys being able to provide these services for the public.

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“I love being a part of auctions,” Vaughn said. “I like to watch and see how it all goes. I have a blast. I got hooked from my first one and it has gripped me. I think it is my God-given calling.”

Vaughn got his start as a “picker” almost 30 years ago. He was originally working as an exterminator and found, in most homes he visited, the resident expressed some desire to have the items that had collected in their basements and attics cleared away.

“Everywhere I would go, people would comment that they should have a yard sale to get rid of all their stuff,” Vaughn said. “I think it was because as an Orkin Man; I was in the areas where stuff accumulates. My mom and dad suggested I buy the things the next time someone said something about it.”

And with that, a new career was born. On his first “pick”, Vaughn purchased two truckloads of items for $175 and  sold the items at a sale for $1,375. The load contained an “Alladin lamp”, oak furniture and a Hull vase among other items.

“When I sold it at auction, it blew my mind,” he said. “Neither one of us knew what was in there. She set the price for the stuff when I offered to buy it. She didn’t know what was in it and I didn’t know what I was buying.”

Vaughn was hooked. From there, he started educating himself on collectibles and antiques. He took an auctioneer course and became certified in Virginia and Georgia. He now has 24 years of experience in auctioneering.

“I have a wide range of knowledge about these items and I do think that helps,” he said.

Since he does not have his license in Tennessee, he helps work the auctions while auctioneer Mike Duckett carries out the sales. He likes being able to meet new people, learn the stories of their items and help them get the most they can from the products at a sale.

“For a lot of people, it is their parent’s estate and they have an emotional attachment to the items,” Vaughn said. “I know how to handle the items. Grading them is really important, but presentation and representation is my thing. It has to look right and you have to know what you are selling,” he added. “If you do the presentation and the representation the right way, then you have done your job for that piece to bring the best it can.”

Vaughn took over the auction from Corner Nest Antiques on New Year’s Day. The crowd has grown and now the auction is filled to capacity almost every time an event is held.

“God has blessed us,” Vaughn said. “He has really been helping us in this.”

Pickers Auction can be found on Facebook at