Red Rooster Auction & Flea Market seeks to offer unique finds

NILES — Local business owner Roni Albert has always had an affinity for finding treasure in the form of antiques, vintage clothing, furniture and handcrafted goods.

So, it may come as no surprise that Albert turned her bargain hunting prowess into a business in Niles. Last year, she opened Lake St. Market, where she continues to sell upscale resale items, including handcrafted goods, jewelry and beauty and bath products. From there, she added a clothing boutique to the location. This summer, she expanded her business’ capacity yet again and opened The Red Rooster Auction & Flea Market in May.

The business located at 1549 Lake St. Browsing among the flea market tables and shelves, people can find unique china sets, varieties of lamps, clothing and furniture. Items are sold on consignment.

Albert said she takes pride in keeping her collections neat, organized and clean. She said making sure that all her treasures are displayed and not obscured by piles or haphazard storage is a priority.

Albert said she wanted to open up a consignment auction portion of the business, too, because she saw a need to help local residents sell estate sale items. The auctions typically take place at 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month. The next target date for the in-store auction is Nov. 17.

“I like helping people with their items,” Albert said. “I love to go in and treasure hunt and organize and set it up and make it look nice and sell it for them. That is my passion. It’s what I love to do.”

Auctions are consignment, offering the contributor a cut of the sale. The house charges 48 percent to the first $500. After $500, the house rate drops 5 percent. Albert offers a flat rate of a 35 percent cut to the store if customers are looking to sell a whole household. Those looking to have items entered in the auction must call Albert at least one week prior to the auction date.

“There are families that don’t want to give items to Goodwill or charity, now they have the option of bringing their antiques and their collectibles into the auction house and we can consign them,” Albert said. “You don’t have to have a huge amount of stuff.”

Albert also encouraged local charities to call and set up their own auction. Nonprofits will be charged a house rate to cover costs, but the rest of the proceeds will go toward the organization, she said.

Albert also hosts online auctions and land auctions. The next land auction will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 17 for 9.3 acres of property of Fairland Road.

As far as the type of items auctioned off, Albert said she will take collectibles, signage, antiques, mid-century modern items and furniture. Hunting and fishing items have also been a popular pick and will be accepted. Auction merchandise must be clean and not broken. So far, Albert said one of the most unique auction collections she came across was a host of World War I gear, which was contributed by a family of a World War I soldier and included items like a trunk, uniform and photographs.

In the near future, Albert also hopes to be able to auction classic cars and larger items. An outdoor flea market is also planned to take place during warmer summer months.

Albert grew up on a farm in Berrien Springs and named the auction house in honor of childhood pet, Red the rooster. When Albert returned home from school, Red would run to greet her every day.

Albert has been in the business of collecting valuable items for the past 15 to 20 years. Prior to operating Lake St. Market, she operated the Bargain Barn in Berrien Center from 2008 to 2014. When the building’s owner sold the property, Albert had to find a place to relocate.

With the auction house up and running, Albert hopes to fill a community need.

“There is not an auction house in Niles anymore, where people can come in,” Albert said. “It is a fun atmosphere, it is a place where you can bring your kids. We are open and friendly and we joke around. It’s a fun evening to watch an auction happen.”

Lake St. Market is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. To learn more about the business call (269) 470-2200 or visit the Red Rooster Auction & Flea Market Facebook page.

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