Items that are guaranteed to do poorly, no matter what, are duplicated items. Duplicated items will split bidders between each one. The best practice is to only put unique items in auction and save duplicates for a future auction. Items that generally perform poorly are items that are out of season (i.e. a golf outing in a December auction, or a ski lift ticket in a June auction), items that are for very specific tastes (i.e. jewelry, art, clothes, accessories, etc.), used items that depreciate in value rapidly (i.e. used or outdated electronics) or services (i.e. photography, massage, dental, lawyer, chiropractic, etc.). However, if you know your audience well and you’re sure that one of the above items would be in high demand at your particular auction, then by all means give it a try. For your loyal service providers, their donation might be better served as a sponsorship of a risk free item mentioned above. That way, you know you’ll get a high demand item in auction at no cost and the service provider benefits from advertising their brand, putting a halo over it at the same time.
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