February 22, 2019 at 12:09 p.m.

Auctioneer Hall of Fame welcomes LeeAnn Vande Kamp

Auctioneer Hall of Fame welcomes LeeAnn Vande Kamp
Auctioneer Hall of Fame welcomes LeeAnn Vande Kamp

It was 1991.  Local auctioneer LeeAnn Vande Kamp was an auctioneer-in-training clerking and recording bid numbers for veteran auctioneer Frank Imhofe. He suddenly tossed the bidding action over to her and excused himself.
 
LeeAnn was “on the mic” for the first time.  

Over the 28 years since, Vande Kamp has been involved in every facet the auction world could throw her way and then some.  She has served on the MN Association of Auctioneers Board of Directors, won competitions for vocal skills, she has racked up hundreds of charitable auction appearances and been a role model for the industry.  Her calendar is reserved a year ahead for auctions for causes from Wild Spurs Sunrise Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation to church mission trips.  When the Chisago County historical society sold some property and needed an on-line auction to clear extra items away, they tapped her to set it up.

Her longtime colleague Imhofe told the Chisago County Press, she “helps pull the wagon” and works behind the scenes.  Her service on the association board helped initiate improvements in the organization’s process and structure.  

All this can only lead to  an inevitable outcome.  LeeAnn VandeKamp was named to the MN Auctioneering Association Hall of Fame.
 
The association presented the award at its January banquet in Moorhead, and managed to keep it a surprise no less. Vande Kamp’s close family members didn’t even let it slip that they were attending.  

Bill Hart, of Waseca, was also inducted. (See photo.)

The state Hall of Fame began in 1987 and LeeAnn is only the second female to be inducted.  The other gal was half of a legendary married auctioneering couple.  

There is no physical “hall” of fame, but the association has a custom trailer, decorated with plaques and association memorabilia that can be seen at events around the state.

There are lots of reasons  Vande Kamp  is successful.

First, she loves the work.  Auctioneers usually come into peoples’ lives at a time of transition, she explained. It can be a welcome experience in the overall scheme of things, but sometimes people seek out an auction service at stressful or somber times.  

“I’m there when something needs to get done,” she stated.
 
Even in high school, LeeAnn enjoyed pursuits that required using verbal  skills and thinking on her feet; debate team, speech, etc.

She’s always been a good organizer and also brings that to auctioneering, which she didn’t pursue until mid-life.  Earlier careers included working for the City of Lindstrom, doing accounting for small business, and she’d been a real estate appraiser.     

She loves continuing to learn about things; determining if there’s value for an object or how items can be put to use.  

An  agricultural implement, a “bone crusher,” was in a recent auction and went to a customer in Florida.  He’s using it for pulverizing seashells which are used like landscaping aggregate in the south. Next time a bone crusher comes along, this will be useful information.  

Vande Kamp enjoys hearing from customers why they want to acquire an item.  Everybody has something specific in mind for what they buy, she explains.
When the Internet started elbowing its way into the live auction world-- many feared it to be a kiss of death.  

Vande Kamp’s Twin Pines Auction Services, however, forged ahead and affiliated with Minnesota’s biggest Internet auction platform K-Bid, now with 150 members.
Internet auctions are definitely not going away.

Contrary to what many thought would happen, the Internet has become integral to auctioning success.  There must be hundreds of people with stories of memorable finds on-line, that Twin Pines brought to their attention.  There‘s another few hundred customers who generate an income, making astute buys and turning the items around for profit on places like eBay.  Then there are those small retailers who rely on inventory from on-line auctions that Lee Ann puts together.  They stock up on consumables through liquidations and are able to operate their small business more efficiently.

As a one-woman economic development engine, Twin Pines Auction Service deserves an award just for that.

It was pick-up day at the K Bid building in downtown Shafer (Vande Kamp also has a pickup storefront in Isanti)  and LeeAnn was managing bidders arriving for pick-up and fielding phone calls from people who opted for shipping instead. (There is a fee for shipping.)

A woman came through the door, having braved a foot of new snow to collect her husband’s auction lots. She mentioned  the several boxes of sports cards she came to pick-up will keep her husband well-occupied. She smiled, calling over her shoulder,   “He won’t come out of the basement for a week.”

Just another happy auction outcome.

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