Brian Lockwood, carpenter for Hornung Construction of Vassar, works on the addition to the Albrecht Auction Service L.L.C. facility along M-15 south of Vassar in Tuscola County’s Vassar Township. The project will more than double the amount of space -- for offices and for display of merchandise -- at the growing online auction business. The company traces its roots to 1954 when the late Herb Albrecht Sr. started it up. (Photo by John Cook)

In with the old: Auction house, home for elderly boost Vassar

Brian Lockwood, carpenter for Hornung Construction of Vassar, works on the addition to the Albrecht Auction Service L.L.C. facility along M-15 south of Vassar in Tuscola County’s Vassar Township. The project will more than double the amount of space -- for offices and for display of merchandise -- at the growing online auction business. The company traces its roots to 1954 when the late Herb Albrecht Sr. started it up. (Photo by John Cook)
Brian Lockwood, carpenter for Hornung Construction of Vassar, works on the addition to the Albrecht Auction Service L.L.C. facility along M-15 south of Vassar in Tuscola County’s Vassar Township. The project will more than double the amount of space — for offices and for display of merchandise — at the growing online auction business. The company traces its roots to 1954 when the late Herb Albrecht Sr. started it up. (Photo by John Cook)

Construction projects on the edge of Vassar figure to create jobs and bring visitors to town – some of whom will stay.

Construction is expected to finish in the spring on the $1.75 million Vassar Fields Assisted Living Facility, at 5830 Frankenmuth Road in Tuscola Township, which will employ 20 workers, said Paul Meisel of Auburn, who, along with his wife, Terri Meisel, own the facility.

Meanwhile, an expansion at Albrecht Auction Service L.L.C., 875 State Road in Vassar Township, will create about eight jobs and more than double the size of the facility in terms of storage space to house auction items, and office space.

Albrecht Auction Service L.L.C., with another location at 3960 W. Saginaw Road in Vassar Township, conducts weekly online auctions every Monday, using both locations to house merchandise sold online.

“We just desperately need this new space,” said Dave Albrecht, who along with his wife, Nicole Albrecht, own the auction business employing about 25 workers.

Dave Albrecht said almost 23,000 prospective buyers have registered to bid on items during the Albrecht online auctions, which occur on the company website, www.BidNow.us. Items offered for auction may be viewed at either of the Albrecht locations on Friday, Saturday and Monday.

“On a weekly basis, we have close to 1,000 buyers that are coming to pick up their items, and we have about 250 sellers a week that are bringing stuff to sell here, and we’ll also have weekly previews where a couple hundred show up to view auction items throughout the week,” Albrecht said.

“That’s creating a lot of traffic around Vassar and hopefully creating some residual business throughout the area where people buy stuff when they come into town.”

Paul Meisel, who also owns the Auburn Fields Assisted Living facility in Bay County’s Williams Township, said he found a need for such a facility in the Vassar area.

“I do my due diligence as far as the area’s senior population and what type of assisted-living facilities there are in the area,” Meisel said. “There are some small facilities in the immediate Vassar area, but there are no large facilities like I want to bring other than what are in Caro and Frankenmuth.

“This is basically a chance for respective residents to be able to come home to Vassar.”untitled shoot-3291

Job-seekers and those who might wish to reside at Vassar Fields Assisted Living may contact the facility via its website, www.vassarfields.com. The facility, advertised as a “home for the elderly” and being built by DeShano Companies Inc. of Gladwin, offers rooms in three different sizes and has drawn much interest from prospective residents, Meisel said.

“The response so far has been fantastic,” Meisel said. “We’ve already started a waiting list so that when we get close to opening, they would be able to come in and pick out their own room.”

Though the assisted-living facility is in Tuscola Township, it’s a few hundred yards from the city of Vassar. Paul Meisel praised township and city officials for “working together” to forge agreements allowing construction of the facility.

“The city and the township will share in my taxes and the city will receive their water rate and sewer rate,” Meisel said. “I’ve had dealings with both Tuscola Township – the regular board and the planning commission – and I’ve had many meetings with the city, and I found it to be a very educational experience and a pleasure to deal with both (municipalities).”

Dave Albrecht said the addition at Albrecht Auction Service, being built by Hornung Construction of Vassar, will add more than 10,000 square feet of display space for merchandise, and office space, to the company’s existing 9,300-square-foot location along M-15.

The Vassar area has proven to be a friendly locale for an auction business, Albrecht said.

“This area is real familiar with the auction process and I think people like finding used merchandise and not necessarily buying new,” Albrecht said. “This area works out good for us. Our buyers, for the most part, come from within a two-hour radius though a lot of them are real close to Vassar, say within an hour.”

Albrecht Auction Service advertises merchandise on its website, collecting a percentage of each sale for the company, founded by the late Herb Albrecht Sr. in 1954. Herb Albrecht Jr., Dave Albrecht’s father and now retired, later ran the business.

“We don’t own the items ourselves,” Dave Albrecht said. “People bring them in and we sell them on consignment. We handle the transaction after the sale. People don’t have to meet with buyers or have them come to their house to pick up items. You hear some stories on how that can go.”

Auctions start at 6 p.m. every Monday at the website run by Albrecht Auction Service L.L.C., which also is licensed to sell guns, used automobiles and real estate.

Auction service employee Gary Opperman said there’s no shortage of merchandise headed to the Albrecht locations.

“I get asked all of the time where all this stuff comes from,” Opperman said. “I say ‘Drive down a main street and look how many homes have a car parked in the driveway, and a garage filled with things. If their garage is lined with items, what does their basement look like?’”

Merchandise can range from the practical – rototillers and used furniture – to the bizarre, such as a six-armed mermaid that held billiard cuesticks and sold recently via the auction service.

“There’s some nice stuff that comes in here and it sneaks under the radar, and if people know what they’re looking for they can capitalize on it,” Opperman said.

On Monday, visitors to the M-15 auction site included Debbie Anthony of Vassar Township, Gretchen Grefe of Saginaw and Gary Szymzak of Tuscola County’s Juniata Township.

“My dad, Tom, collects antiques and I’m seeing what he might like,” said Anthony, 61. “The last time he bid he got an antique Crowley’s needle (case) that holds sewing needles and embroidery needles. I’m also looking for antique fishing lures.”

“I’ve gotten some real deals,” added Szymzak, 65. “Last week we bought 12 (movie) DVDs for $4.”

Grefe, 68, said she recently drove to the Vassar-area auction site and found a humorous wedding gift for her niece.

“They’re very modern, minimalistic people and I bought them a ceramic lamp with a chicken (motif),” Grefe said. The lamp came with chicken feathers adorning the bottom edge of the lampshade.

“It was kind of a joke gift, but they loved it,” Grefe said.

Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com

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