Auction Insider: Why Do Auctions End on the Nights They Do?

by:  Ryan Friedman

Do you ever wonder why or how the decision is made on why sports memorabilia auction companies end their auctions on a certain day of the week?  Why Thursday night?  Why is always ending in the evening? Well, there is actually some logic and past history to it.

First, lets talk about closing days.  Back in the 1980s  and 90s, prior to the Internet and mobile phone revolution, auction  companies  usually ended their events on Thursday nights.  The reason was really quite simple. Back then, 99% of the bids came by way of the good old home telephone. This included not only how you had to bid, but also how you checked to see what the high bid was, or to learn whether you had been outbid (No automatic e-mail notifications back then).

Knowing that it was essential to have your clients available until very late into the evening and near a phone, Thursday night became a logical choice.  After all, it was always the “must see TV” night (Cheers, Seinfeld, ER,  etc).  It was the night people stayed in, ate dinner with the family or ordered in and chilled at home. So you knew most people would be up, keeping an eye on the TV while sitting by the phone, monitoring and participating in the auction.  Some auctions closed Wednesday nights because it was the night of the week when the fewest number of people went anywhere after work hours, something that is still generally true today.

Those who closed auctions in the late night hours of Thursday figured that since the next day was Friday, customers weren’t too worried if they were going to work the next day with a little less sleep than normal.

If you scheduled your auction to close on a Friday or Saturday night you always had  to  be  concerned  that  people would be out and about or traveling.  Remember  that  mobile  phones weren’t nearly as common as they are today and if your bidders weren’t by their home phone, they weren’t able to bid.  Some used faxes to send bids in but it wasn’t an interactive way to participate.

Now the second part is… why do auctions seems to close to initial bids around 9:00 PM CST?  It had more to do with the fact that you had to allow your west coast clients a chance to get home from work so they could call you from their home phone and have time to get their initial bids in.  Without the internet and cell phones,  the auction house would always have  to consider the time zones across the country and factor  in when everyone would have a chance to call in. Remember 9:00 PM  CST  is  7:00 PM on the west coast and most people with traditional jobs were home from work by then.

When it comes to today’s auctions, the closing day and time are no longer as big as a factor as it once once. With the mobile web, smart phones, e-mail, and everyone always moving at a fast pace, the auctions can now close pretty much on any day and at any time.

Some have moved to Friday night closing times but you still see a majority of the auctions closing on Wednesday or Thursday but it’s more a function of tradition and familiarity for bidders than anything else.

Ryan Friedman is the editor of Auction Report (,
a  premier  web  site  for  news  coverage  and information on the top
auction  companies, dealers, and authentication services in the sports
memorabilia  and  sports  card business. Look for his column here each