It's a long way from the hard hats and high-visibility vests that he's used to but Brent Fabish feels right at home in the hustle and bustle of the auction room.
The former construction manager traded his hammer for a gavel six months ago to become a licensed auctioneer at his Mt Roskill auction house De La Cour's.
"I come from a family that has dabbled in antiques but it's the last thing I thought I'd end up doing - I just sort of fell into it.
"Everyone has their different styles and techniques but you learn."
There are only about 370 licensed auctioneers in New Zealand and it's not a career path for a shrinking violet.
Stepping up to the auctioneer's stand for the first time was a nerve-racking experience, Mr Fabish says.
"I just threw myself into it - just fired myself up with the first item and away I went. You certainly have to have the gift of the gab and be confident."
Opening up an auction house at a time when people are tightening their belts could have spelled disaster for the family owned auction house.
But the bet has paid off and they are not short of stock, averaging between 350 to 400 items a week, Mr Fabish says.
One in three phone calls the auction house receives is from someone moving overseas or downsizing.
"There are some really big bargains to be had."
He insists online auction websites do not mean the end of traditional auction houses.
"I think there will always be a place for auctioneers for sure. A lot of people like to see something before they buy it - especially when it's older due to the fact that sometimes descriptions are misleading."
A lot of his clientele have grown tired of the time-consuming practice of making their own listings online, he says.
Buyers can also be found scouring auction houses for bargains with the intention of later selling it online themselves.
But nothing can replace the thrill of buying something for a steal in a bustling room full of buyers, he says.
And you never quite know what you're going to find.
Mr Fabish was surprised a collection of 20 National Geographic magazines from the 1960s sold for $60.
"It's certainly funny to watch sometimes. We never thought in a million years we'd get more than $5 for them but you only need two people to create an auction."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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