It’s the first auction of the year and the 21-year-old, perched on the edge of her father Rick’s stool wearing a black Stetson, is the star of the show. People have driven up the mountain just to see her. They’ve known Abigail since she was a little kid running slips back to the main desk while her father called from that very stool.
She may well be the youngest female auctioneer in the province, and while she won’t turn 22 until October, she’s already been in the auction business for about 15 years.
She and brother Colton have been there since the auction house opened.
“Even before that when we were doing on-site auctions I was helping Mom and Dad, and working and always a part of it,” Abigail says.
It was early 2005 when Bezanson Auctioneering Center opened in the old Margaretsville Elementary School with a fundraising auction to help victims of the Boxing Day tsunami that killed almost 250,000 people in 14 countries along the coast of the Indian Ocean.
“Oxfam Canada. I was running slips,” Abigail recalls that auction. “I started at the bottom, working up from all the jobs. Every job here I’ve done. So, I started running slips, I went up and started working in the canteen. I left the canteen and went to where the boys were working in the hallway lugging on stuff, and I went to the head desk. So now I’m doing the head desk and taking Dad’s job over top of it all.”
She laughs. It was all her father’s idea.
“Ever since I was really little Dad wanted me to be an auctioneer. And I always said ‘no I can’t be an auctioneer Dad, I can’t be an auctioneer, I’m too shy for that,’” she says. “Last year we started working, we started practicing.”
She knows the crowd, jokes with them, creates an easy back and forth banter – and sells them everything from beds to box lots.
“The people here, they’re really special,” she says of those folks. More than 100 people pack the old school. “They’re something else. They’re really great.”
She’s been doing numbers since she was five or six.
“Dad’s always been pushing hard to get me to do numbers and count. I count to a hundred in less than a minute. I can run back down from a hundred,” she says. “I just started taking it seriously a couple of years ago and going further and further into it and looking at auction schools, and trying to improve myself. I’ll ask Dad what I need to work on. I have new fill words almost every auction. I’ll switch something up.”
Her father’s job?
“I think he wants me to take it anyway,” she says. “Very, very, very big shoes. Yes, he’s got very big shoes. Dad will say ‘oh, you did a good job’ but afterwards we’ll go to supper and Dad will be like ‘okay, so we’ve got to work on this,’ or ‘we’ve got to work on that.’”
“There was an auctioneer here today, Laurie (Parker), from up in the city,” she says. “I was going to go to school and he told me not to go to school. He believes I’m good enough that all I have to do is practice, and I’ll be quite fine because I’m up there with my basics and my numbers and my slang.”
Parker came up the mountain like the others – to see Abigail.
“I was very impressed, very impressed this morning to hear her,” Parker says outside while people haul their purchases out the end door to their trucks. “She has great presentation, great personality, and a great voice for it. I think she’s going to be an excellent auctioneer when she gets a little experience under her belt. I think she has nothing but a great future ahead of her.”
Parker, based in Rawdon, has been an auctioneer for about 30 years.
She does charity auctions as well and at her first one she was so nervous she couldn’t eat her supper. But she got up when it was her turn and sold eight items. Does she have any butterflies now?
“I do. But I think it’s a rush, is what it is. You don’t know what people are going to do,” she says. And every auction is different because the crowd’s going to be different.
She takes the responsibility of her job seriously. Box lots from an estate are notorious for going for just a few dollars – no matter how hard an auctioneer tries to get the bids up. “It’s a lot of weight, but at the end of the day you get what you get.”
Her father Rick Bezanson is known as the Cowboy Auctioneer and Abigail has been donning the Stetson too and thinks she may carry on that tradition.
“People know Dad as the Cowboy Auctioneer,” she says. “They may not know his name, but they know he’s got that hat on. I think probably I’ll keep it up. Dad’s hats are all the same size as mine, so we just switch.”
But it’s not like she’s at the auction house all the time. She works in health care.
“In the daytime I’m looking after people, and on the weekends this is what I’m doing.”