Canned Ham, Going Once, Twice: A Rise in Grocery Auctions

Auctioneers need new revenues sources. Consumer want cheap food. Start the bidding on the bananas

Matt Rourke / AP

Auctioneer Kirk Williams calls to bidders during a grocery auction in Dallas, Pennsylvania.

This Friday, as he has done almost every Friday for the past four years, Ron Peterson will offer antiques, coins, jewelry, furniture and cars at the weekly auction he runs in Monroeville, New Jersey. This is all typical fare for the bidding business. But if you're also hankering for ham and paper towels, no need to run to the supermarket. As the stock market headed south last fall, Peterson, owner of Elmer Auction, LLC, added grocery items like cereals and cleaning supplies to his ledger. And they've sold, to the cash-strapped ladies and gentlemen sitting in each and every row. "People...

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