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Every day is like Christmas – A Conversation with our Train Consultant

March 17, 2016

post by Blair Young


The auction is set-up and ready to go…now we need the bidders! It takes many steps to get an auction set and ready for the public – from start to finish a lot has to be accomplished.  For our model train and toy auctions, the process begins with John McDowell.

McDowell works as our consultant, specializing in model trains and toys. When asked how long he’s had an interest in model trains, McDowell answers “my first memories as a little boy were of trains.”


McDowell and his wife, Lucy, have been attending model train auctions for years. While McDowell admits, “I always thought about being one of the people who helps…like holding up the items. Just something to be involved” he never foresaw becoming a consultant.  However, when we approached him out of the blue and asked him to fill this role, he was keen to give it a try. “John has true passion for the hobby, keeps current with the market and, always, does his due diligence. We are fortunate he accepted” says auctioneer Heather Kohler.

So, what does being a consultant entail? First McDowell, along with one of our auctioneers, meet with the client to determine how to best move forward with their collection. Once a plan is in place, and the items are in secured storage, McDowell begins to open boxes. “It’s just like Christmas every day” says McDowell. As he sorts through the boxes, he creates lots. Once items are assigned lot numbers, he goes back through and writes a detailed description. McDowell emphasizes the importance of an accurate description, especially for online bidders. When the catalog listing is complete he hands it off to auction staff,  who take it from there. Typically, it takes him about two weeks in total to complete his part of the process.


For McDowell, one of the most rewarding aspects of his role as consultant is helping the clients sell their collections. He explains, “a lot of times someone has passed, someone is sick, or someone has moved…I really believe in trying to help them get the best value for their items. And I think Gateway tries the best they can to help the client.”

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