By Susan Nolan
Dawn Bunting of Bunting Online Auctions has big plans. For Halloween, she sees giant spiders dangling from the ceiling of the auction house’s showroom. In December, she envisions a Christmas open house with carolers and hot apple cider. “We are going from 6,000 square feet to about 16,000 square feet,” she says of her new location at 1995 East Chaneyville Road in Owings, “We really can do so much more with the larger space.”
Bunting’s plans go far beyond holiday decorations and refreshments. In addition to the online auctions, they will soon offer space to vendors. “We have someone who sells vintage clothing, someone who sells vintage albums, a book seller. They will all be moving in. We’ve had interest from a high-end yarn seller, too,” says Bunting. “So, our marketplace will be one with a lot of variety for shoppers, not just antiques and collectibles.”
Currently, Bunting is waiting for permits to clear before leasing the space to vendors. “We aren’t sure how long this process will take,” she says, “but I’m hoping that we will be ready for them to move in within the month.”
In the meantime, the online auction is operating from the new location. All inventory has been moved from the previous location at Town Center in Dunkirk and is available for viewing online and in person. Operating hours remain the same, and the transition, so far, has been smooth.
Bunting opened the business in 2017. “My mother was an antique dealer and my grandfather was a great auction-goer, so I have been around this kind of work my entire life,” says Bunting.
After attending another auction regularly, she decided it would be a good business model to bring to Calvert County.
In the past five years, Bunting has seen her business grow. “We are adding registered online bidders at a rate of about 100 per week, and they are from all over,” states Bunting. “I know of one buyer who is driving down from the New York City area to pick up items bought online, but we do provide shipping.”
Despite gaining customers from outside of the Chesapeake Bay area, Bunting’s focus remains local. “I’ve always felt it is important to give back to the local community,” she says. Over the years, she has cultivated many partnerships with businesses, charities, and churches. For example, when vases don’t sell, they are taken to a florist who provides flower arrangements pro bono to nursing homes.
“The larger space means more opportunities for community involvement,” says Bunting.
One of her plans is to involve high school art students to decorate the windows of the showroom. Staff has begun reaching out to art teachers at both Northern and Huntingtown High Schools in Calvert County. “Whenever we can be involved with the community, it is a great thing.”