April 24, 2021
Buying quilts at an Amish Quilt Auction, rather than in one of Lancaster’s many wonderful local quilt shops, is NOT for the faint of heart. It is a truly unique experience. Plus, it can save you lots of money.
My favorite auction is held every-other month in New Holland at the Garden Spot Fire Hall. They sell quilt and quilt-related items starting at 9:00 am and running until all 700+ items are sold, typically around 2:00 pm. The auction is officially called Hometowne Quilt Auction, but it’s typically referred to as the New Holland Quilt Auction.
If you’re in the market for a quilt, it helps to do some shopping first. Go to the quilt shops or look online to get a feel for the patterns and colors you like, plus the retail pricing for your favorites. One of the big reasons this ‘homework’ is helpful is that you’ve got about 30 seconds to decide if you want to bid on a quilt, and the bidding ends quickly.
Buying a quilt at auction isn’t like “shopping” where you can look at a few hundred quilts, compare them, look at them side-by-side, take a photo and send it to your best friend for her opinion, think about it some more, and then finally make a decision. It’s more like a “competitive sport” where you’re taking a shot on goal and you’ve got just seconds to score or loose the ball to the opposing team!! It’s mind-blowing how quickly the auction flows with the auctioneer’s cadence as the bids come in sounding almost musical.
Your heart will pound. You’ll think, “do I bid on this one, or will something better come up later?” At the back of the room, Amish, Mennonite & “English” auction attendees will take a break from the action to buy a drink or some food that’s served throughout the day (eggs are available until 10:30 am and there’s a sign telling you the item # when food service will end). Then the bidding starts, slowing at first, then escalates in a flurry as enterprising Amish women nod to the auctioneer and the bid quickly rises then abruptly ends and the auctioneer quickly moves to the next quilt.
Many of the bidders are shopping for quilts that they’ll turn around and sell in their retail quilt shop, so pricing is wholesale. That’s good news for you! Any quilt you buy at this auction should be 50% under what you’d pay in a retail quilt shop. If you’re purchasing a quilt for your own home, or giving it as a gift, the biggest challenge is simply deciding between all the beautiful, hand-sewn options before you. If you’re up to it, what you’ll “win” is more than just a quilt, it’s an experience!
The fact that buys often drive HOURS to attend the New Holland Quilt Auction is testament to the quantity and QUALITY of the quilts for sale there! A quick scan of the parking lot reveals plates from Maryland, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and of course, Pennsylvania. The majority of the Amish Quilt Auction attendees are there to buy inventory for their shops, but there are a few savvy attendees who know this is the place to buy high-quality quilts at bargain prices. One gentleman I spoke to at the back of the room was attending the auction with his wife. He told me they’d already purchased 15 quilts, and his wife was hoping to buy 40. They came in from upstate New York for the quilt auction!
|Mariner’s Compass Quilt|
The annual auction schedule starts January of each year and it’s always on a Tuesday. The auction at kicks off at 9:00 am. The preview is Monday from 12-4 pm. The location is Garden Spot Fire Hall, 339 East Main Street, New Holland, PA, just 15 minutes from the Historic Smithton Inn in Ephrata. You can make a trip of it and stay at the Historic Smithton Inn for a night, where the quilts on every bed were bought at this auction!
Hometown Auction hosts this event ever-other month, the schedule for 2023-24 is:
July 18, 2023
September 19, 2023
November 15, 2023
January 16, 2024
March 19, 2024
May 21, 2024
July 16, 2024
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