New Berlin gets a new kind of auction block business

Bidders from all over can make use of Auction Nation

Bill Betthauser stands inside Auction Nation, an online auction house that now has a distribution center in New Berlin.

Bill Betthauser stands inside Auction Nation, an online auction house that now has a distribution center in New Berlin. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Feb. 4, 2014

New Berlin — Auction Nation, a new local business, certainly lives up to its name.

Despite its New Berlin base, auction bids come in electronically from all over the nation as merchandise goes on the block for week-long auctions, eBay style. Unlike eBay, nearby buyers can to come to 16125 W. Ryerson Road to see, touch and try out the merchandise.

And there is always a lot for sale. The list of categories is long, including building materials, cars, electronics, furniture, home goods, office furniture and supplies, sporting goods and toys.

There is jewelry, overstocks of tools from the likes of Sears and The Home Depot, and overstocks and returns from stores such as Macy's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Petco and Costco, said Bill Betthauser, one of the owners.

And there are items from estates, store and even factory liquidations, and artwork that he buys himself to sell, Betthauser said.

Certain guarantees

While the merchandise is wide-ranging, there are certain things customers can count on.

Some of the auction items might have a ding, but they are guaranteed to work, Betthauser said.

Another guarantee is that bidders won't end up losing an auction item because another bidder posts a higher bid with only seconds to go. (Many eBay users know the feeling of not having enough time to raise their bids.) At Auction Nation, if the high bid comes in at the last minute, bidding is extended three minutes, and is extended again if necessary until the bidding is truly over, he explained.

"You can't be outbid at the last minute," Betthauser said.

The winners can either pick up the items themselves or Auction Nation will arrange for shipment. Although shipping costs are not listed, people can get an idea of how much it will cost by checking with various shippers of their choice, such as UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service, he said.

Betthauser recently shipped a $900 video product to Atlanta for $250 — which from the customer's perspective was still a good deal, given that the item retails for up to $1,400, Betthauser said. Customers can factor shipping costs into their bidding.

Payment is by credit card.

Uncommon venue

Ed Holpfer, executive director of the New Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, said that as far as he knows Auction Nation is the second auction house in New Berlin.

Fifty-three years ago the New Berlin Auction Auction & Sales Barn was established at 17655 W. National Ave., he said.

But he welcomed the new auction house.

"Anything that brings positive interest to the community, we're behind it," he said.

Betthauser grew up in the Wausaw and Milwaukee areas. He started Auction Nation in Arizona — first Phoenix in 2010 and then in Tucson in 2011 — then opened a third location in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2012.

He decided to branch out to Wisconsin because so many people who moved to those warmer climes from the Midwest told him they wished they could have had an auction house up north while they were selling off their things.

Those escapees from the cold, he said, "sell off all their stuff up here."

He chose New Berlin because it's so close to Interstates 94 and 43, Betthauser said. He chose his Ryerson Road location just off Moorland "because everyone knows where Moorland Road is."

The demographics of New Berlin are good, too, he said, with residents having good incomes, a large percentage of them working and owning homes.

Betthauser is a second-generation auctioneer and is president of the Arizona State Auctioneers Association. He is a graduate of the World Wide College of Auctioneering and former corporate auctioneer for Harley-Davidson, Phillip Morse and the U.S. Postal Service.

He has been interviewed and appeared in several major television programs as an auction expert, and he had his own radio show titled "Auction Chasers" for a year and a half in Phoenix.


WHAT: Auction Nation

WHEN: open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; online bidding anytime

WHERE: 16125 W. Ryerson Road



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