"I went to auction school at Raney Auction School in Cloverdale. It took about a month and then I had to pass a state exam," explained Hourihan.
"Jim Raney, a Cloverdale auctioneer, takes students one-on-one. He was the only school doing that at the time that I could find. That was something that I thought was important. I had some classroom as well as auction experience at his Friday night auctions in Cloverdale. I've always loved auctions; I guess that's how I got into this," added Hourihan.
Hourihan, along with her husband Denis, recently bought a building in downtown Jamestown in Boone County. It was a pizza parlor prior to their purchase. The couple plans to open an auction hall in half of the building. Hourihan will conduct her Friday night auctions there very soon. The other half is dedicated to her bent and dent store called Jamestown Variety.
"The cans may have a dent or two, and the corner of the boxes might be a little bent, but the food inside is as good as it ever was, and customers can buy them at a much lower price than grocery or super centers," explained Hourihan.
These are the bent and dent dollar-type stores that have begun popping up all over the country.
"We sell perfectly good food, laundry supplies and other items at a much lower price. People ask how we do afford to do this and the answer is simple, we buy salvage, bent and dent items from reclamation centers here in Indiana," explained Hourihan.
Accidents happen, even in the grocery business. If a case of green beans gets dropped, and a couple of cans get bent, those cans (and sometimes the whole case) don't make it to the grocery store shelves. Instead, they're sent to a reclamation center, where broken jars are discarded, cans with leaks are destroyed and the rest of the products are then shipped to a distributor, who sells to store owners like Hourihan.
In other cases, undamaged grocery items become salvage because their "use by" date is getting close, or because the item just didn't sell well in that area. Jalapeņos sell well in Texas, maybe not so well in Wisconsin. Sometimes the reason the item becomes salvage is seasonal. A lot of Halloween stuff shows up in November and Christmas stuff shows up in January.
Prices are low because they need to be in this type of store. Because store owners can buy huge quantities of grocery items each month, they are able to get high quality, name brand foods and sell them for a lot less.
"Everyone benefits from this. You can save over half on your grocery bill. In this economy, people have to watch their pennies. Sometimes $4.50 for a box of cereal is just too much when minimum wage is just barely over that amount. We think $1.50 to $2 sounds a lot better, and that philosophy is carried out throughout the store," said Hourihan.
The bent and dent store is up and running and open Mon. to Sat. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
She is also eager to get started with her Friday night weekly auctions at Last Call Auction. Some of the items awaiting the auction block include Craftsmen tools, name brand bedding and the pizza ovens from the store. Items available in their auctions can be seen at auctionzip.com.
"If everything goes well, we hope to open a similar venture in Roachdale," added Hourihan, who lives near the Heritage Lake area.
The Last Call Auction and Jamestown Variety store are located side by side at 6 East Main Street, Jamestown. Their Web site is www. jamestownvariety.wordpress.com.