By Maggi Stivers
The Bemidji Pioneer, Minn.
Tammy Tisland’s second career truly is a “calling.”
The Hines woman turned from selling antiques from her shop to an award-winning auctioneer, selling items from the speaker’s podium.
Tisland has been a full time auctioneer for the past 15 years. Before that, she was owner of Grandma’s Attic Antique Mall in Bemidji.
“Through attending auctions and buying at auctions, it kind of led me to a desire to see what it’s like on the other side of the mic,” she said.
Tisland recently was recognized at the state and national level for her auctioneering skills.
“My goal was to win Minnesota (Champion Auctioneer Contest) and then eventually win the International (Auctioneer Championship) and I’m so fortunate that it happened in the same year,” she said.
After deciding to pursue a career in the field, Tisland soon enrolled in auctioneering school to learn the basics.
“They touch on all of the aspects of auctioneering and teach you what you need to know to get started,” Tisland said. “But the recommendation is to actually get under the wings of another professional auctioneer, which I did.”
Tisland recalls every details of her first auction.
“I vividly remember it, I had the worst stomach ache in the world and I was so nervous,” she said. “Public speaking is a fear of most people and myself included. Once I got in there and started doing it, it was wonderful. It was still one of my best auctions.”
For several years, she owned her own auctioneering company, but in order to spend more time with her husband, Jim, who was ill, she chose let go of her ownership and joined United Country Aasness Auctioneers, which is based in Fergus Falls and owned by Cary Aasness.
“He was very interested in my personal story and what was best for me.” she explained, “Cary was more interested in having me as part of the team and since then my husband has passed away.”
Competition helps build skills
Belonging to associations, on both a state and national level, along with competing is something Tisland encourages for all auctioneers.
“Competing in contests, because you learn how to speak to people, you learn how to convey what it is that needs conveying and, of course, you’re working on your auctioneer skills, as well,” Tisland said.
Tisland competed in the Minnesota Champion Auctioneer Contest, which includes both men and women, 10 times before she won this year’s event.
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The contest involves a first round where each contestant sells three items in front of a panel of five judges. If selected for the final round, each contestant goes into an interview round where they are asked three related questions and then sell three more items.
“Each time, it was disappointing not to make the finals or make the finals and not win or always coming in fifth or third or second or whatever it was, but each time I learned something about myself that I could take and put to work in actual business practice,” she explained.
From the moment she won this year’s Minnesota title in January, Tisland began to prepare for the International Auctioneer Championships, which would be held during the National Auctioneers Association Conference and Show held in July in Addison, Texas.
“So, I was pretty sure there wasn’t one day, one moment, since winning in January in Minnesota that I didn’t think I was going to win the international competition except for after I sold items in the final round,” she explained, “I’m not sure I brought enough because I had a feeling like I didn’t do my very best, I’ve done better, but maybe it was enough to put me over the edge. . . and it was.”
Winning the women’s division of the competition means Tisland will serve as an ambassador to the National Auctioneers Association, as well as the auction industry as a whole, along with Peter Gehres, of Hilliard, Ohio, the men’s winner.
Although competing is something that Tisland will miss, her favorite part of being an auctioneer is being able to help others through her job.
“It’s giving, helping people move from one chapter of their lives to another, be it someone retiring from the farm and having to move to town; maybe someone had passed away and your liquidating items for them, maybe they are just selling one item,” she said. “But what it does is, liquidate, turn it into cash so that they can go do something else.”