Eighty people sitting on church pews listened intently to the musical rhythm of the man speaking at the front of the venue. The messages being imparted were clear, and the sing-song cadence riveting. But this isn’t church, really — it’s the Thursday Egnash Auction in Oak Grove, just north of Howell.
For over 50 years, Mike Egnash’s family operated an auction and antique store in downtown Howell. In order to not compete with his parents’ business, Egnash opened his own auction business in Clare and spent some time in the trucking business. The family business in Howell continued to operate until it was sold in the late 1990s. After working in Gregory for several years, Egnash was finally able to bring the family auction back to Howell, opening a twice-weekly auction in Oak Grove in 2017.
The auction and antiques business has changed a lot since Egnash called his first auction at the age of 5. The new incarnation does not have a retail storefront, and they don’t take consignments or run any on-site auctions. As an estate liquidation company, Egnash purchases entire estates and then sells the items at the Oak Grove location every Tuesday and Thursday evening. They never know what they might have at any given auction, and that is part of the fun both for Egnash, as auctioneer, as well as his customers. On this particular evening, a few pairs of cowboy boots (“still in the box!”) sell for $20-$30, and a metal rack from a Tucker auto plant in Flat Rock goes for $20 (“it might have a Tucker label on it somewhere, that would make it worth a lot of money”). Some German instruments of unknown purpose are introduced with an upbeat ,”I’m not sure what these are, but they were made in Germany!” — although it is rare that Egnash has no idea what a specific item is, and even rarer that he cannot find some selling point about everything he has on offer.
Furniture, jewelry, art, household items: the selection is large and varied in terms of age, condition, and value.
“I’ve always loved selling antiques,” Egnash says. “The market has gotten so soft, it’s disheartening to see a 100-year-old chest of drawers go for $20. But I do get to sell some unique items.”
One that stands out — an original tintype picture of Abraham Lincoln that was found in an attic along with many Civil War pieces; the tintype sold for $7,800.
“We never know what we’ll find, and we are buying almost daily,” Egnash said. “We try to post a few photos of what we will be selling a few days in advance, but our customers look forward to being surprised.”
In addition to the weekly sales, Egnash offers free consultations for buyers and sellers on the best methods for sales and purchases.
With no minimums, reserved pricing or buyer premiums, the auctions are fast-paced and fun shows for all ages. Some auction nights feature pizza, lottery tickets and other giveaways to enhance the atmosphere. Auctions are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6801 Oak Grove Road in Howell. For more information, photos. and schedules, click here or call (517) 376-1498.
For a glimpse of what goes on at Egnash Auction, click here.