COUNCIL BLUFFS — An auction house co-owner believes that the Mall of the Bluffs will be a good fit for his business, despite concerns from neighboring retailers.
"It should be a positive thing for the mall," said Kerry Namanny, co-owner of Good Buys Full Service Auction House.
The City Council recently gave his company approval to open a mall shop, which will be where the Old Navy store was located. Renovation of that now-empty site will start after the first of the year, with the expected opening in April.
The plan is to hold a three-hour auction every Monday evening, though that could expand to Thursday or Sunday if business warrants, Namanny said.
His business will involve consignment sales, estate sales, antiques, land sales and sometimes vehicles, he said. There would be little clothing auctioned off, probably just leather jackets and boots, he said.
"I've got a list of 800 people looking for coins and 400 looking for quilts," Namanny said.
He also mentioned more unusual items like a bear trap, a flying platform, even a badge worn by famed lawman Wyatt Earp.
"We're focusing on the strange and unusual as well," he said. "It's like being caught in the middle of a reality show."
Such sales could attract up to 300 people, many of whom might shop at other mall stores, he said.
What's more, a stage will be installed allowing local talent to showcase their skills before each sale, Namanny said.
Nonetheless, some retailers seem cool to the idea. So is Councilwoman Lynne Branigan, the lone dissenting vote when the issue came up at the Dec. 12 meeting.
"I don't believe an auction house belongs in a retail mall," she said.
"We need real stores, not an auction," said Mike Amos, an employee of Eyemasters. "We need more retailers."
"It doesn't fit into a mall setting," said Deborah Tackett, the store manager.
One of her numerous concerns, she said, was that loud noise from the auction could bother her customers.
"We're just three doors away," Tackett said.
Namanny said instead of one large sound system for conducting sales, smaller systems would be installed throughout the store for less noise. In fact, less noise will come from his business than from a nearby fitness center that plays exercise music, he said.
Tackett also expressed concerned about large items being carried through the mall into the auction store.
Namanny said all incoming items for sale would come through an out-of-the-way loading dock. Large items purchased would also go out that way.
"We're not going to be dragging refrigerators through the mall."
Damien Shull, manager of Brodkey's Fine Jewelry, said he supports efforts to increase mall traffic, but wondered about the clientele of an auction sale.
"Does that clientele look to buy at the retail level?"
"You'll get all kinds of people," Namanny said.
Shull also wondered if an auction house is just a second-hand store where people buy used goods.
"We don't sell junk," Namanny said. "We try to run an up-class auction house. An auction brings in top-market dollar."
One mall businessman, Anthony Collins of Wing Champion Hot Wings, supports the auction house for the additional traffic it will bring.
"Anytime you get exposure to a lot of people, that helps you."