Layne Weber shows some of the antique items that will be auctioned on April 21st.
GUERNSEY--They’ve got everything but the kitchen sink--but if you look long enough, it may be there too!
Guernsey’s latest business addition is the Auction Barn owned and operated by Layne Weber and his staff. Weber purchased the building that once housed Herren Brothers Lumber on West Highway 26 and has spent the past month renovating the inside to accommodate a new venture that he believes will be a successful and innovative piece of Guernsey’s business district.
The business will be two-dimensional with periodic auctions in the main part of the building and a Wyoming-based products retail store in the west side addition.
Auctions will include estates and consignments while the store will have regular business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday once the auctions begin.
The first auction will he held for the Shelton estate from Wheatland on Saturday, April 21 with the first lot up for sale at 9 a.m.
Weber will host an open house on Friday, April 20 from noon to 7 p.m. to give the public an opportunity to see how the business is set up and view the renovations that have been done.
Although new to the Guernsey business community, Weber is no stranger to the auction world.
He was raised in Lusk, graduating from Niobrara County High School in 1987. He was exposed to auctioneering at a very young age and grew up listening to many styles of area auctioneers as well as some more well-known across the country.
After attending Casper College where he worked as a livestock judge, Weber headed to Kansas City, Missouri to attend the Missouri Auctioneer’s School in 1989. Weber said although the school was just a two-week stint, students spent their days studying and practicing, then hit the auctions at night for some real-time exposure to the art.
After studying many styles of different auctioneers, Weber came to the conclusion that a successful and good auctioneer is someone who can keep the pace moving but be well-understood by potential buyers. Being able to use actual words rather than “fill” words and sounds, Weber says the most-respected auctioneers are those who are honest with the bidders and speak clearly enough for all to understand.
“I don’t play those games of making people bid against the auctioneer. I may buy two or three items, but I tell people that up front and the bidding process is exactly the same, even if I’m one of the bidders.”
Owning an auction house has been a dream of Weber’s for quite some time. He began Weber Auction Service in 1999 and worked many area estate sales. But he spent the past few years working in the oil fields in an effort to save enough money to build his own place, thinking he was still 5-10 years away from actually opening the doors. But fate intervened and when Weber found out the old lumberyard building was still available, he checked it out and by March, he found himself a lot closer to making his dream a reality.
“I’m so excited to finally get to do this,” said Weber. “I have a great staff that works well together and we can’t wait to get started.”
Linda Michaels of Guernsey will be taking care of Weber’s books, serving as the accountant for the business.
Gairet North, Wheatland, is Weber’s right hand man, helping with the store, the auctions and setting up a computer system. North has already spent some time researching some of the older items that will be up for auction on April 21.
Neil Kafka and Marsha Kafka of Wheatland are also on the staff. Neil will take care of maintenance and the grounds, while Marsha as an assistant during the auctions.
Kim Ellis is Weber’s auction clerk , having worked with Weber for approximately eight years. “Kim is amazing-she can keep up with a fast pace but still do a terrific job,” said Weber. “She has outstanding penmanship and you can actually read what she writes!,” he added with a grin.
Getting ready for this first auction, Weber has found the items from the Shelton estate are a vast treasure trove with many antique items as well as a broad selection of tools and household items that all appear to be in excellent shape.
Weber has set the main part of the building up with around 20 rows of chairs facing a large auction podium that is certainly one of the most unique pieces in the building.
Weber picked up an old hay wagon from a local rancher and has built three walls on the ends and one side and set the wagon up at the front. The other long side of the wagon has a set of steps built for Weber and his clerk to get up on the rig to address the crowd and auction the items from that location. Weber made great use of some old barn wood on the wagon and also throughout the building to give it a very rugged, western appearance.
A rail fence runs across the back part of the room to partition off the area for bidders.
It is very evident already that Weber has poured his heart and soul into making this a success. And in just a little over a week, he’ll get his first chance to find out if he can turn his dream into a reality. From all outward appearances, it seems he’s already off to a great start.