The tables are strewn with hundreds of items. Customers file in and out, looking at what the tables have to offer. Knickknacks, antiques, in-box items, bulk food, the auction house has it all. The clock hits 4:30 p.m. and the auction gets underway. As items pass by the stage, paddles shoot into the air, each with a number. And Col. Brent Loberg will not leave until every table is bare. "I don't go home until that room is clean. Everybody knows that. I don't go until everything in there is sold."
Loberg, 61, is the owner and auctioneer of Sellers Consignment Auction, located at 2103 1/2 W. 3rd St in Duluth. Every Monday for the last 30 years, Loberg calls the auction held in the upper floor of the Sellers Estate Mall. The tables fill up with merchandise, old and new, and Loberg sells it all.
"It's amazing how much stuff is out there," Loberg said. "That's what blows my mind."
Loberg got his start in the auction business with his brother-in-law. He attended an auctioneering school in Iowa for two weeks to learn not just the fast-paced auctioneer speak, but also the legal aspect of live auctions.
"90 percent of it is the law, the legal part of what you're doing."
During live auctions, the auctioneer holds power over the sales. If they call your number paddle, you bought it. But Loberg never seems to worry, the customers are normally true to their word.
Even after the room is cleared of all merchandise and the auction comes to a close, Loberg finds no time to rest. He says the next day the room will fill up again with more items to sell.
"Tomorrow it will start coming in again. By noon tomorrow, we'll have seven, eight tables full again, getting ready for next week."
Being in the auction business for 30 years, Loberg's children grew up in the atmosphere of the live auction. His son, also named Brent, is a licensed auctioneer, just like his father.
"When I turned 18, we went down to the courthouse together and got my auctioneer license," Brent, Jr. said. "Ever since then I've been a registered auctioneer in the state of Minnesota."
Brent, Jr., a part owner of Allweather Roof in Minneapolis, said growing up and seeing how his father preformed business prepared him for his career in sales.
"Probably things people take for granted just come second nature, I learned a lot of that through him," Brent said. "The way he does it and the way he's taught me, and how I've watched him, it's all about relationships, and the way you deal with people and how people respond to you."
Col. Loberg displays this friendly business tactic during his auctions. He stands at the front of the room, the microphone an inch from his face, bantering with customers between bids.
Item after item passes by and, in four hours time, he and his staff have sold merchandise such as unused military clothing and a Ronco Pocket Fisherman in the original box. The most expensive item of the night, an ounce of .999 percent pure gold, fetched $1,400.
"We do a lot of antiques, I love antiques," Loberg said. "I like the gas station memorabilia, the old signs, the gas pumps."
Even with his love of antiques, Loberg never takes his work home with him.
"My wife doesn't like it. I can't bring it home," Loberg said. "It's probably a good thing. It'd be one of those hoarder houses. It's funny, you go to my house and you can't find an antique."
Although his title is officially "Col. Loberg," he did not earn that title through military service. But there is a bit of history behind it.
"When you go to auction school, you get the designation of 'colonel,'" Loberg said. "In the civil war days, the only person who was allowed to sell the used army equipment was a colonel. So ever since then, if you became an auctioneer, you're a colonel."
After 30 years in the auction business, Loberg says he will not be retiring soon.
"People ask me when I'm going to retire… and I say, 'I'm just having fun here.' It's a fun time."