As the year draws to a close and the holiday cheer fills the air, we at Grafe Auction are taking a moment to look back at a year filled with unique discoveries and treasured connections. From the bustling aisles of retail giants to the intimate classrooms of local schools, our journey through 2023 has been nothing short of extraordinary. Join us as we recount the tales of bygone auctions, the places we've transformed, and the lives we've touched along the way in our annual holiday letter.
January was a busy month in the retail segment. Auctions for Staples took us to 9 different locations throughout the United States. Additionally, Sally Beauty allowed us to conduct two large distribution center auctions for them that month. Also of note, we finished the last in a series of 20 auctions for the historic Arlington International Racecourse in the Chicago area. These auctions, which included almost 18,000 lots, spanned 176 days.
February focused on diverse small businesses. From the town where Grafe Auction had its first office, Spring Valley, MN, we auctioned off assets from a drive-in A&W restaurant that opened in 1956. Other small business auctions included restaurants and bakeries, like Avalon Banquets in Chicagoland, which closed after 25 years in business.
In the real estate world, we at Grafe Auction warmed up to a unique challenge: finding a new steward for a 150-unit dormitory complex in the university town of Winona, Minnesota. With the complex under bank control due to less than 30% occupancy and inconsistent rental payments, it was clear a change was needed.
Our team, led by Chief Sales Officer Paul McCartan, embraced the mission of real estate revitalization, leveraging our expertise to prepare, market, and present the complex to prospective buyers through a comprehensive and targeted digital campaign.
Moving ahead to March, we kicked off school auctions for the year with Maple River Schools. The school system was one of several auctions we supported throughout the year for public schools that remodeled or closed. We're proud to support communities in transitioning and remodeling public school facilities, giving a second life to valued educational resources.
April marked the last of our auctions for closed CVS stores throughout the United States. In 2023 we conducted 12 auctions for the pharmacy retail store, totaling 65 throughout 2022-2023. April was also marked by a variety of food service equipment auctions, and uniquely, a large assortment of equipment from a theater in Wisconsin, spotlighting the diverse needs of our buyers.
While our Director of Marketing, Charissa Bires, embarked on an international journey to Iceland for her MBA studies, the pulse of activity at home didn't miss a beat. We seamlessly managed sales for another public school and oversaw the intricate details of Sherwin Williams' corporate office transition. This month was significant not only for the auctions we conducted but also for welcoming a new member to our family. Nikki Roeder joined us as a Finance Specialist, bringing a fresh perspective and expertise to our financial operations.
In the spirit of change and new horizons, our commitment was further highlighted as we skillfully navigated the final liquidation of Tuesday Morning's corporate office and distribution center. Amidst these pivotal transitions, our CEO, Judd Grafe, also found himself abroad in Spain, celebrating a momentous family occasion—the wedding of his daughter. Each journey, whether for professional development or personal joy, weaved into the fabric of our company's story, marking a year of memorable milestones and global connections.
As we reached the halfway point in the year, we held two real estate auctions - one commercial building, and one residential. We also handled a unique auction - Petco's busiest North American store in NYC. Also that month, we hosted an auction for Costco surplus equipment, another closed public school, and a distribution center for Shoe City, which showcased our adaptability in serving varied sectors.
In the heart of summer, we not only launched the Target Corporate office auctions and tapped into the first of several brewery sales, but also celebrated personal milestones that remind us of the joys beyond the auction block. Our Chief Sales Officer, Paul McCartan, embarked on a memorable journey to Ireland with his family, embracing his roots and the joy of exploration. Meanwhile, our Chief Marketing & Technology Officer laid the foundation for new memories by moving into a new house—a personal transition that reflects the growth and change we cherish in our professional endeavors. Not only that, but John was also sworn in as the Vice President of the National Auction Association later in the month. These personal milestones are testaments to the vibrant lives we lead and the shared experiences that enrich our Grafe Auction community.
August continued to be busy with two more auctions for the Target corporate offices. Additionally, August hosted a diverse month of auctions including another school, bakeries and restaurants, and several Supercenters for a well-known national retailer.
As leaves turned, we began the Christmas Tree Shop store auctions amid their bankruptcy proceedings and embarked on the Owatonna High School auctions, reflecting the seasonal ebb and flow of our industry. Due to the volume of assets for Owatonna High School, it was broken into three parts. It even included instruments from the school band, theater equipment, and more.
Our Fall was filled with an assortment of auctions, from food service to retail, not forgetting the inventory disbursement auctions that brought diverse deals to the table.
November brought diversity in auctions and new energy to our team. As we branched out with a large production lumberyard auction and tapped into another brewery sale, we also welcomed Kyle Matheson as our new Logistics Specialist. His addition to the team underscored our commitment to enhancing our logistical capabilities, ensuring each auction runs smoothly and efficiently. Kyle's expertise was instrumental as we managed complex sales like bottling equipment for Pepsi and a complete brewery package for a secured SBA lender.
As we decked the halls in December, our company came together to celebrate the season at our annual holiday party—an event that's become a cherished tradition. It was a time to reflect on the year's achievements, to share laughter and stories, and to express our gratitude for each other's hard work and dedication.
Beyond our festive gatherings, we expanded our expertise beyond breweries into the realm of distilleries with an auction in Minneapolis. We also embarked on a significant 9-store project for Target, assisting in the sale of assets from their now-closed stores. Our efforts with Christmas Tree Shops continued, helping them navigate through their transitions.
As we close the final lot of 2023, we take a moment to reflect on the dynamic world of online auctions that connected us over 275 times this year. Each auction has been a digital gathering of minds and bids, weaving a rich tapestry of our shared experiences at Grafe Auction. The stories that unfolded on our screens—from the flurry of opening bids to the anticipation of the final countdown—have been a testament to the trust and camaraderie that define our community.
This year, we traversed a diverse landscape of sales, unearthing hidden gems and fostering legacies. We celebrated each successful bid with our seasoned buyers and extended a warm virtual welcome to our first-time participants, each enriching the vibrancy of our auction community.
As the year's final listings fade from our site, we look back with deep appreciation for the dedication and passion of the entire Grafe Auction family—our team, our buyers, and our sellers—who have been pivotal in every auction's success.
Turning our sights to 2024, we step into the new year charged with enthusiasm, ready to unveil a fresh array of opportunities. We are invigorated by the potential to continue uniting people through our platform, to craft value from every listing, and to curate unparalleled collections for auction. Let's raise our virtual paddles to another year of compelling auctions, to the narratives yet to unfold, and to the boundless prospects that lie ahead.
Happy Holidays, and here’s to creating more moments of connection, achievement, and community in the many auctions to come.