Don’t Break the Bank: A College Student’s Guide to an Auction House

The Shopping Experience

If there’s one thing I know about your late teens to early twenties, it’s that money is tight. However, I also know that we love thrifting. Upcycling has never been bigger! Ever since I hit sixteen, there has not been a day in my life where someone has not offered to go to some sort of consignment shop to look for cheap clothes, books, games, etc. I’m here to tell you we’re all overlooking a crucial part of the thrifting experience.

The weird, extravagant, fun art.

We all know what I’m talking about. You’ve probably walked by the art and antique section of any thrift store and didn’t think much of it, but something catches your eye. That one, strange, amazing thing that you just have to have. It could be anything.

For me, my “strange thing” was this small, ornate painting of a sobbing clown that expresses the most extreme sadness I have ever witnessed. Something about it was fascinating to me; I couldn’t get enough of this random, discarded clown. However, I was indecisive, and decided to sleep on it. When I returned to the store the next day, my sobbing clown was gone. Crestfallen, I returned home clown-less.


Lot 2106: An eerily similar, massive crying clown painting. Recently sold for $20 in a Discovery Auction.

Years later, I began working here at Alex Cooper as the art intern. I’m an art school student and the position fit my skills, simple as that. Initially, I figured we would be working with the finest of art, inaccessible to the common man. When you think “auction house,” you never think you could find yourself participating in an auction, nevertheless shopping at one for fun. I was dead wrong.

I am not a wealthy man. I still live off my parents, and I’m going to have the mother of all student debt in three years’ time. Working here opened my eyes to how accessible and downright entertaining auction houses can be to people my age.

The Discovery Auction

I absolutely adore the Discovery Auction. I can’t afford the big-ticket items in the larger auctions, but Discovery opened up a new world to me. It’s called Discovery because it’s just that, a way for people to “discover” new artists or items they would’ve never thought about before. Everything starts at $20, and oftentimes stays around that price point.

As someone about to move into a new dorm room, the prints, posters and smaller paintings were perfect for me. For example, I am now the proud owner of Anne Griffith’s “Small Galaxy Series #3.”


Lot 2374: Anne Griffith. “Small Galaxy Series #3.” Now proudly in my room.

I love this little thing. It’s a great accent to my current room, and I’m heavily debating bringing it back to college with me. With Alex Cooper, I didn’t even need to come in physically to place my bid. With easily accessible bidding online, this couldn’t have been easier.

On top of cool art and posters, Discovery holds just about anything that could be essential to the college experience. I have a friend who just took a trip to a thrift store to find glasses for his house he’s sharing in his sophomore year of college. He left with about $30 worth of glasses plastered with bachelorette slogans, poorly drawn dragons and a mug that had the U.S. Constitution wrapped around the whole thing. Hilarious? Yes. Practical? Absolutely not.

Shopping in Discovery opens doors for deals you couldn’t have ever expected. Even in this upcoming auction we have a massive set of glassware starting at $20. I can’t promise it’ll stay that price, but it never hurts to try.


Lot 8175 in the upcoming Railroad Discovery auction.

For Your Consideration

All I’m trying to do is introduce the concept of an auction house to more people my age. There’s a misconception that it’s out of reach, but truly, bidding has never been easier. Seriously, the only confusing part is when the next Discovery auction will go up. You don’t need to go out and drop everything to make Alex Cooper your one stop shop, but I urge you to consider the option. I never would’ve thought I’d find myself checking the Alex Cooper app for the next poster for my room, but here I am.

If you’re interested, please go check out:

Arguably even easier, download the Alex Cooper App, available on:

            iPhone Users - The App Store

            Android Users – The Google Play Store

Lastly, I can’t emphasize the how much I enjoy our Railroad location. It’s a place essentially devoted to our discovery auctions, and absolutely worth checking out. Located conveniently off of York Road, Railroad sits comfortably next to PerformFit Sports Experience at 10880 Railroad Ave, Cockeysville, MD 21030.

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Cormac Jensen
Art Research Intern, Summer 2022
SCAD Class of 2025