YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Our Times / Orange County Communities | COVERING NORTH

Taking Care of Bidness

Auctioneer Larry Bourland never misses an opportunity to practice. He took up a second career selling other people's stuff after a motorcycle accident.


When Larry Bourland begins to chant inside his home, K.D., the family's black Labrador, looks for a place to hide. Bourland is an auctioneer, and while practicing the fast, rhythmic cadence of his profession, he will pretend to sell anything . . . even K.D.

Bourland's wife, Rise, is thankful there are no bidders present when her husband asks for the highest bid on every piece of furniture in their Seal Beach home.

Bourland, 48, recently returned from a renowned auctioneering school, and his enthusiasm for the business, which began 11 years ago, has intensified. He constantly works to improve his chant with exercises to loosen his tongue while making dollar amounts flow.

At the Missouri Auction School, billed as "the world's largest training center," Bourland received a diploma after completing an intensive nine-day course. Students learn about business intricacies and perfect the art of chanting.

"It's not unlike a foreign language," said Bourland, who decided on the second career two years after a near-fatal motorcycle accident ended his career as a Fullerton police officer. "I use every opportunity available to stay fresh with my chant."

Bourland said students put in nine- to 12-hour days doing such things as reciting tongue-twisters with the rhythm of auctioneers. He wrote down a tongue-twister chanted nearly every morning which began:

"Betty Botter bought some butter but said this butter is bitter. If I put it in my batter it will make my batter bitter. So she bought a bit of better butter . . ." and so on.

Knowing Chant, Product Are Key

Bourland says that along with being able to chant with clarity, accuracy, rhythm and speed, the auctioneer must have product knowledge. He has started his own business, American Auction Co., and while he is asked to help sell everything from farm equipment to estate items for liquidation, his specialty is antiques.

"I enjoy selling things that I've only seen in museums and historic reference books," he said. "The thought of holding something that was held 300 years ago fascinates me the most.

"It's like linking history."

There is more to being an auctioneer than the familiar chant, Bourland said. Hand gestures are very important, including pointing at bidders. That is another aspect that Bourland practices with a bit of imagination.

"He will auction off telephone poles as we are driving," his wife said. "Then he will point to other drivers next to us as bidders."

Bourland admits there is an entertainment aspect to the business, and Rise is his constant audience. He will begin conversations with her by asking for a bid and going into a chant. He leaves phone messages the same way.

"When I get tired of it, I take the dog for a walk," said Rise, who partners with her husband as an auction clerk. She said she is proud of her husband's accomplishments and adds, "We do have a lot of fun with it."


Alex Murashko can be reached at (714) 966-5974.

Los Angeles Times Articles