Business Spotlight

Great North auction house keeps it real amid wide selection of wares

  • 3 min to read
Business Spotlight: Great North Auction

Great North Auction Friday afternoon, June 14 2019.

Being in the auction business means every day spells variety.

“We get everything out here from guns and gold to vehicles and planes, boats — a lot of household because we do them every week, every Friday night,” said Kevin Drotzur, co-owner of Great North Auction. “Then we do estates on Saturdays, when we pick up estates. It varies.”

In North Pole, off the Richardson Highway, Great North Auction is run by Kevin and his wife and co-owner, Peeraya “Nok” Drotzur.

Business Spotlight: Great North Auction

Owner Kevin Drotzur and his wife Nok are reflected in a mirror as they make final preparations during setup and public viewing of an estate auction at Great North Auction Friday afternoon, June 14 2019.

Kevin also owns Fairbanks Pawn, which he bought before the auction house. Initially, Great North Auction, which he started in the late 1990s, was located near Greer Tank and Welding off the Old Richardson Highway. The Drotzurs moved the business to the present location about six years ago, after building on the property.

“Well I had the pawn shop first,” he said, “and I attended an auction, and I saw it was kind of cool. I kind of liked it. So I went to a couple more auctions, and I decided to just open my own, so I did.”

Outside the deep blue building, vehicles from the auto auction, which Drotzur also owns, linger, waiting to be auctioned off. Walking inside, you can see the whole auction house and all its wares: from palm-sized baskets to furniture sets. They contract laborers periodically to help with moving larger scale items.

Business Spotlight: Great North Auction

Coins and guns on display during setup and public viewing of an estate auction at Great North Auction Friday afternoon, June 14 2019.

“It’s all labor. We have to move stuff around constantly from the trucks, to the back stores, to the front and all over, so it’s really labor intensive,” he said, “but you know the interesting thing about this is you find stuff every day that you’ve never seen before.”

Drotzur said he still finds items he has to do research on and look up, even after being in the business for so long.

They took in an item he called a “flux capacitor” once, a large piece of machinery with uncertain operations; it sold. More recently, they acquired a pair of sculptures. They still aren’t sure what they were, but someone liked them enough to purchase them.

Business Spotlight: Great North Auction

A variety of vehicles lined up for an upcoming auto auction at Great North Auction Friday afternoon, June 14 2019.

“They were extremely heavy, but small, and it looked like a whale, kind of, out of blue metal with felt. The front had kind of like a blue whale would have the spout, but these came down into a hook and laid on the ground, but then they had the felt, which told me they were probably something that maybe held fabric down or something to that effect, but very old,” he said. “Maybe one day I’ll find out.”

Beyond oddball items, Great North Auction gets pieces to auction from all over Fairbanks. The University of Alaska Fairbanks surplus auctions take all day and estate sales pack the room, according to Drotzur. In the summer, he said the Alaskana items bring a lot of tourists through their doors.

“I think we’re the farthest north auction house on the planet,” he said. “That’s kind of cool.”

From Alaskana, to jewelry, to hunting gear, to art and kitchenware — Nok Drotzur organizes everything for the auction. She places small items in the glass display cases at the front of the auction room.

“We make like a group of the ivories, and then we make sure this way people can see everything in here,” she said, pointing out some select pieces being arranged in the display case.

Business Spotlight: Great North Auction

Owner Kevin Drotzur straightens items on a display table during setup and public viewing of an estate auction at Great North Auction Friday afternoon, June 14 2019.

She goes through at least 100 items for each auction and sometimes holds items for the next time around. Under the tables along the room’s perimeter she stores miscellaneous household goods, such as Christmas decorations and boxes of books. These items can be popular, according to Nok.

“Sometimes we have cookbooks,” she said. “People like it and then antique books — people like to bid on that.”

There are tables set off to the side of the cases as well, with space designated for guns, housewares, knickknacks and antique items. Nok said she sometimes likes to rearrange the way the space is laid out from auction to auction.

She explained the process of sticking lot numbers on different items, to signify where each item comes from, then when someone wins the auction for that particular item, their bid number goes on the same sticker.

When it comes time for the auction, the process for bidders is fairly simple. They come in, get their bid numbers and get ready to bid on items.

Business Spotlight: Great North Auction

A variety of gold nuggets on display during setup and public viewing of an estate auction at Great North Auction Friday afternoon, June 14 2019.

The Drotzurs will have “holders” display the items. For things like gems and smaller pieces, they’ve got a camera hooked up to a large flat screen, just behind their glass display and in front of the bidding audience. They can put small items under the camera for people to view on the larger screen.

The auction house has its regulars, both sellers and buyers. For anybody looking to get into the auction business, Kevin has a piece of advice.

“Keep it real; keep it honest with your customers,” he said. “PR is vital. That’s about it: treat people right.”

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7572.

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