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Lambrecht auto auction

It was standing-room only as attendees filled the gaps between a pair of Chevrolet Corvairs and auctioneer Yvette VanDerBrink solicited bids from a mobile platform (rear) Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, the first day of the Lambrecht auto auction in Pierce.

Yvette VanDerBrink heard the doubts as soon as she got to town in June.

That woman is going to sell all of Ray Lambrecht’s cars?

“In the town of Pierce, there were some people who thought, 'That broad can’t get the job done.' Some of the old boys, they didn’t know about that chick running around out in the field.”

They congratulated her Thursday, when she stopped for dinner on her way home to Minnesota after hosting the biggest sale of her career — a three-day event that attracted more than 30,000 people, sold 500 cars, generated about $2.8 million, and, after the History Channel gave it three hours of prime time Saturday, put Pierce on the map.

“It just got really big, really fast. It was one of those moments you don’t know if you’ll ever have again,” she said. “At least we knew we could handle it. We can do this. We know how to do this. And we proved to everybody we could.”

After spending thousands of hours working in Pierce this summer, she finally spent a day at home Friday.

And she took a few minutes to look back:

* ON THE SALES TOTAL: “It was higher than expected. Way higher. Double what I thought.”

She wouldn’t confirm the reported $2.8 million total, but she didn’t argue it, either.

And she was surprised by some of the individual prices.

“They were wild. They were very high both days. But there were some deals there, too.”

She expected, for instance, the 1956 Chevy wagon to sell for far more than $5,500. And while she thought the rarest piece, the 1958 Cameo pickup with one mile on its odometer, would break the six-figure mark, even she was stunned by its $140,000 winning bid.

“I was very happy. Mr. Lambrecht was very happy. He watched it on the History Channel and was very happy with how it went.”

* ON THE BIGGEST SURPRISE: “The number of people. The sheer number of people was just unbelievable.”

They caused logistical problems. She had to find a mobile stage — a flatbed trailer — to get above the crowd. And with thousands of bidders and spectators pressed against her platform, it took time to clear a path from one line of cars to the next.

“When the History Channel got involved, that was really something else, but I never anticipated it to be as big as it was. I knew it was going to be big, but it went way past my expectations.”

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* ON THE BIGGEST PROBLEM: First-time online bidders who didn’t know what they were getting into. A few don’t want to pay what they promised, others didn’t know how to haul an old car home.

“Some of the online bidders were novice bidders, and they thought they were shopping at Wal-Mart,” she said.

Maybe they have buyer’s remorse, she said. But she has the contracts they signed.

One online bidder traveled to Pierce this week to pick up his two cars but didn’t have a trailer — or the desire to hire a hauler. So he just left them in the field.

* ON PIERCE: The town of 1,700 was her second home this summer. She was there to get hundreds of cars moved out of a tree grove and into the sunlight. She was there to inventory them all. She worked with the state Department of Motor Vehicles to sort out titling issues. She prepared Lambrecht’s farm for thousands of visitors.

She got to know the town, and its people.

“I was really appreciative with how the town of Pierce came together. Everybody was so helpful. Everybody was just really good in the whole community.”

* ON HER REGRET: She was so busy doing her job — selling cars — to meet the crowd surrounding her.

“I really would have liked the chance to talk to more people.”

Reach Peter Salter at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.

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Peter Salter is a reporter.

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