There is a Facebook group that is helping Timmins businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.
Started by four members of the local community – William Orr, Tammy Williams, Norman Dwyer and Shelley Carpenter – the group holds auctions with all proceeds going to a different company each week.
Timmins Small Business Support Auctions is currently in its fourth auction and is accepting donations for the fifth recipient.
So far, companies such as V’s Body Mod, Total Martial Arts Center, Timmins Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy and Diamond in the Rough Tattoos and Piercings have been supported by weekly auctions. The next recipient will be Loralee Hair and Beauty Salon.
On average, around $800 to $1,000 is raised per auction. The tattoo shop also sold $1,100 in gift certificates at the auction, Dwyer said.
“We make it easy for them, we fundraise on the side,” he said. “It’s working very well and hopefully we get over this lockdown as soon as possible and get back to some sort of normalcy.”
Choosing which company to feature has been a challenge because so many have been impacted by the pandemic, Dwyer said.
So the auction organizers came up with a category. The criteria are that a business must be brick and mortar and must be completely closed with no possibility of offering the pavement during the lockout.
“So we can prioritize them over others for now. But who doesn’t suffer? What company doesn’t suffer from this?” said Dwyer.
There are approximately eight items displayed for each auction. Auction items are posted Thursday evenings and bidding is open until Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Community and business members, as well as the City of Timmins, donated a wide variety of items for the auction. Items range from pizza certificates to a brand new snowblower.
“Donations have slowed down a bit, I think businesses have been allowed to reopen,” Dwyer said. “We hope to continue a little longer. Just because the doors are open doesn’t mean companies don’t have a hard time keeping them open.
People can bid by leaving comments in the group. Once the auction is over, comments are disabled. There is also an anti-snipe rule to prevent people from bidding at the last minute.
Group admins also experimented with running silent auctions for larger items for two consecutive weeks, but it didn’t work, Dwyer said.
“We’re brand new, we were doing some groundwork. We wanted to try different things and think about different concepts, and I don’t think this one worked for us,” he explained.
The administrators have a chat where they discuss how to organize the auctions each week and decide on their responsibilities.
“The idea is not to make it a full-time job on top of all our jobs,” Dwyer said. “None of us own a business. The only admin sells a few side items but nothing major. We all have our own jobs.”
Community response has been positive, Dwyer said. The Facebook group, created on January 27, currently has around 1,700 members.
“I feel good about it. It’s very positive and uplifting,” he said. great and hopefully it will continue.
As long as the auctions continue to generate money for local businesses, auction organizers don’t plan to stop anytime soon, Dwyer said.