JOHN CHAPPELL: Sports Cards Part of Habitat Auction
They're building a house of cards in Robbins. Actually, Habitat for Humanity of Moore County is building three of them.
To help pay costs, Habitat sells donated items and surplus building materials at the Habitat Moore Store on N.C. 5 between Aberdeen and Pinehurst.
The store is a treasure house of commonplace bargains, antique furniture, major appliances, books, Christmas decorations from trees to Teddy bears, and other things bold, beautiful or bizarre.
Some things sell for a dime. Other bargains are bigger, such as a home workshop combination Shopsmith Mark V now Habitat priced at $995, including a full set of manuals and books. The original owner paid several thousand. There are always television sets, and doors, doors, doors and doors.
It is not unusual for the store to hold auctions when they have big items like cars and boats. This month, starting Dec. 12 and running to noon, Dec. 19, it will put up vehicles, a 17-piece set of Steuben cocktail glasses, a Coleman pop-up camper trailer, a 100-year-old snare drum, VHS tapes containing every episode of "Lost in Space" and some cards -- lots of cards.
This year, the Habitat holiday auction includes a major collection of sports cards, sold to help build houses in Robbins.
"I think 90 percent are baseball cards," said manager Ken Pierson. "One of our volunteers noticed that a full box was marked 700 cards, so she counted boxes and figured, by guesstimate, how many we probably have. She says she thinks there are 51,200 in all."
They are unsorted, unexamined or picked over.
The auction is silent, at least until high noon on the final day. Bidders write their best bid on a bid list, and check back from time to time so they can raise if they have been outbid.
There is another wrinkle: every bidder actually present in the store Dec. 19 will be able to make one last, final secret bid.
That will give determined bidders one more chance to take home something they particularly want. A complete list of auction rules is available in the store, Pierson said.
"We are open Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 to 6:00," he said. "On Saturdays, we open from 9:00 to 5:00. We are closed Sunday and Monday."
Bidders -- both winners and losers -- enjoy these silent auctions, Pierson said. It gives them a good excuse to visit the store and shop when they come to check on their bids.
Habitat is making a major effort this year as it moves for the first time into the upper end of Moore County.
Individuals and companies give generously, nobody more frequently than those who've had the chance to enjoy doing a day's work on a home site, or packing lunch for workers.
For weeks, a team of volunteers ranging from Mayor Mickey Brown and his cousin, Police Chief Danny Brown, to bankers and out-of-work neighbors, has been hammering away on Green Street across from the new American Growler factory.
Brown likes the idea that they are building homes on one side of the road, and building jobs on the other.
Every Saturday morning at 8:30, they show up to strap on nail bags, fill the pockets, grab one from a pile of hammers, and start swinging. Their labor is free, and they like working side-by-side with future homeowners paying down payments with "sweat equity" -- a Habitat term for the hours of work that count for cash.
The nail bags are free, a contribution from a local building supply store. But most material that goes into these houses -- just about everything from nails to timber -- is not free. In general, tools are not free.
They cost money. This year, some of that money for these Robbins houses will come from selling a couple of red cars, some fancy glassware, tapes of an old television show -- and thousands and thousands of baseball cards.
John Chappell can be reached at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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