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Our Town: McClain Auctions


Inside McClain's, which has handled many of Hawai'i's prominent auctions, including the liquidation of Liberty House. photo: Olivier Koning

Over the past 25 years, serious collectors and bargain hunters have gravitated to McClain Auctions' public sales in Kaka'ako. Now the largest auction house in the state has moved to a bigger, better location on the corner of King Street and Nu'uanu Avenue.

"Most of our customers either work downtown or come downtown for other reasons, so it made a lot of sense for us to be here," says owner and auctioneer Marty McClain. "It's a great location."

The 20,000-square-foot site at 1 North King St. also houses the "Ultimate Attic," scheduled to open this month (by appointment only), where more than 3,000 items from McClain's own collection will retail. It's the largest collection of French, English and American furniture in the state, according to McClain. Not your taste? You'd be hard-pressed to find something that isn't. McClain's eclectic array of art, furniture and knick-knacks has made it a one-stop prop shop for local film crews, including the prime-time hit show Lost.

At the large estate auction we attended in February, more than 600 items were up for bid, including carved koa furnishings, 19th-century French and English pieces and lithographs by Tennent and Charlot.

McClain tries to make his auctions as fun and uncomplicated as possible–even for newbies. "It's fast moving, but there are no secrets," he says. "We do everything we can to reassure people that they know what's happening."

Never been to a McClain Auction? Here are a few tips:
• Visit www.mcclainauctions.com or call 596-3999 for auction schedules.
• Online catalogs for upcoming auctions are available three to four days in advance.
• Public inspections are usually scheduled for the day before and the morning of the auction. Don't bid on anything you haven't seen in person, McClain advises.
• Auctions can last several hours, but you don't have to stay for the whole thing. Items come up for bid in numer- ical order, and McClain runs through about 100 lots per hour. Interested in Lot No. 437? You don't have to show up till the fourth hour.
• Most items don't require a minimum bid.
• Dress is casual. Seats get snapped up fast, so wear comfortable shoes.
• It's OK to bring the kids. In case they, or you, get hungry, there's a refreshment stand that sells chili, hot dogs and soda.
• Questions? Call 596-3900.
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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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