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Auction house attracts bargain hunters, collectors

Robbie Kobs works the crowd during an auction in Amery.

A new western Wisconsin auction house is a real family affair.

Robbie and Tareana Kobs of Somerset have been operating their flea market and auction business out of a former factory space in Amery since July.

A whole host of relatives and friends help out whenever they can.

Robbie's Auction Service conducts consignment auctions every Thursday night, from 5 to 9 p.m. at 705 South Keller Ave. Everything from antiques to furniture to toys to housewares items are auctioned off during the evenings.

Once a month, Robbie's Auction Service conducts an antiques and collectibles sale. It's typically on the first Saturday of the month. Saturday auctions start at 4 p.m. and last until all the items are sold.

Every once in a while the local auction house will conduct other specialty events, such as a recent sports and outdoors related auction.

A year-round flea market is held at the Amery site every Saturday and Sunday. The flea market is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days.

Robbie has been involved in the auction business for more than two years. He previously operated out of a space in Deer Park, but outgrew that location.

Robbie attended the Worldwide College of Auctioneering in Iowa to gain the skills for his current career. The 10-day course is conducted by some of the most successful auctioneers in the nation.

"I love sales and marketing," Robbie said, "so I absolutely love the auction business."

At first, Robbie admitted, he had to overcome stage fright, but he just has fun working the crowd.

"My goal is to try and get the most money I can for each item," he said. "But we also try to make it fun and we tell a lot of jokes."

The entertainment value of attending a Thursday auction is apparent. People arrive early (the preview starts at 3:30 p.m.) to grab a bite to eat at the concessions stand and to talk with others in attendance.

The evening starts promptly at 5 p.m. and the auction moves quickly along.

"I have a few people who just come to eat and watch all night," Robbie said. "They don't ever buy anything, but they have fun. That's all right."

People from all across the region attend the weekly auctions at Robbie's Auction Service. Some are looking for something specific, others are looking for things that interest them, while still others are just browsing. Typical attendance at a Thursday auction is between 80 and 100 people.

"It all depends on what's in the auction," Tareana said.

Tareana said the auction portion of the business has been going well since the facility opened several months ago.

"The flea market has been harder to get going though," she admitted. "But it does help pay the rent for the building."

The flea market is operated under the Pakrat Promotions name.

Tareana said anyone wishing to sell items at a consignment auction or at the flea market can contact Robbie's Auction Service at or call 246-5500 or 715-338-7848.