At Barrett-Jackson, you can buy a whole lot more than cool cars. The annual collector car auction revved into gear this week at WestWorld of Scottsdale with about 1,200 vehicles and one massive mechanical dinosaur that eats them set to cross the block.
But crammed into the massive collection of tents that house the auction block and the bidders pen are about 350 vendors selling fur coats, furniture, hot dogs and helicopters.
You can buy a life-size bronze bull for $1,500, Jimmy Buffett’s guitar for $4,500, a condo in Mazatlan, Mexico, for $325,000, a six-carat green diamond ring for $500,000 or a six-seater plane for $1.6 million.
There are about 25 to 30 vendors just selling food, said Mike Laurel, Barrett-Jackson’s vendor manager.
And three pitching their private planes.
Eclipse Aviation hadn’t made a sale as of Wednesday, said sales representative Ronald Smith.
But he had lots of tire kickers touring the plane parked by the Ford display, and many of Barrett-Jackson’s wealthiest customers won’t even show up until Saturday when the priciest cars go on the block.
There are plenty of items for the less flush shoppers to pick up, too.
“I look for vendors that reflect our upscale reputation,” Laurel said. “But we include something for everyone. People enjoy buying things, so we didn’t just want the high-end (merchandise).”
So if you can’t afford a regular Duesenberg, you might be able to buy a die-cast miniature. And if you are too cash-strapped for the bronze bull, you can probably find a less-pricey poster of a bull.
Chris Boillot, co-owner of Scottsdale-based Michael’s Creative Jewelry, has been setting up shop at Barrett-Jackson for 15 years, he said.
Bidders’ wives often stop by.
“When a guy just spent $100,000 on a car, let’s just say, he has to keep everybody happy,” Boillot said.
Bernie Matchen lugs a collection of restored antiques from old garage equipment to candy vending machines all the way from his home near the Illinois-Wisconsin border to show at Barrett-Jackson. He’s been doing it for nine years.
Matchen often makes a sale, but even more often makes long-term customers from around the country.
They might not see exactly what they want, but they see the quality and ask Matchen to find items for them, he said.
“There just isn’t anything to compare with Barrett-Jackson,” Matchen said. “The clientele we meet, I don’t know where else you would meet them if not here.”
Ron Horvath, owner of Gasoline Alley Antiques, has a shop in Florida, but he has been showing up at Barrett-Jackson for a decade to sell his restored gas pumps.
“We sell quite a lot here,” he said. “This is the Super Bowl of car auctions, and these are my kind of customers.”
Joe Kelly of Scottsdale said the same, even though it is his first year selling helicopters at the auto auction.
Kelly hadn’t sold any of the $425,000 birds as of Wednesday, but he had six people who expressed solid interest.