Alanna Babka and Bonnie Schneider met playing in a baseball league, and have bonded over breathing life into cast-off collections.
With row on row of classic antiques, paraphernalia and collectors’ items, Erin Auctions is one of the top treasure troves in the hills. The auction house was opened six years ago by Alanna Babka, who has lived in Ballinafad for 35 years, and Saskatchewan native Bonnie Schneider, who moved to Erin eight years ago. The friends met playing in a baseball league, and have bonded over breathing life into cast-off collections.
Owners: Alanna Babka and Bonnie Schneider
How they started: In 2009 the pair were working to help area seniors with downsizing, says Alanna.“In the process we saw the need for quality items and vintage pieces to find new homes – and rightfully respect a piece’s craftsmanship and artistry. It was heartbreaking to see a 19th-century ‘flat-to-wall’ or a 1940s mahogany hand-carved dressing table end up in the refuse.”
A few recent hits: Coloured glass pieces from masters like American brand Steuben and France’s Lalique, whose designs were far ahead of their time and are still highly collectible, says Alanna. “Mid-century-modern teak is very popular as it has the contemporary lines that suit most current decor styles. Sterling silver draws a crowd and achieves good prices. A carved duck decoy we recently sold found a new home in the U.S. for $650. For us it’s a new job every week. From tin toys to Tiffany lamps, it is a privilege to sell these items.”
Pro tips: Alanna says even a single piece of antique furniture can change the whole feel of a room. “It adds warmth and history. Buying the right piece is similar to picking artwork. You will design the room to make it the centre of attention.
“After assisting hundreds of people in downsizing, we have found that most if not all are very attached to their heirlooms, yet not one has been sorry to let a piece of Ikea go. Antique furniture has character, charisma and a shared history with each family. If it’s a hundred years old, it will probably see 200 years.”
Their new normal: Alanna and Bonnie have stopped running live auctions for now because they don’t want to turn away shoppers when they reach maximum capacity. They are currently offering online-only auctions. In-person previews are by appointment and masks are required. Pickups are curbside (mask required) after the auction. “We do miss our regulars and look forward to opening the doors for live sales in the near future,” Alanna says.