McIntosh Auction and Market bounces from flood

By Brian Sweeney
McIntosh Country Market and Auction has joined the growing list of flood-damaged businesses that have finally reopened.

Located at the intersection of Fair Street and Route 28 in Margaretville, the sprawling building was hard-hit by a wall of rushing water during the historic August 28 flood.

When owners Chuck and Roger McIntosh arrived to survey they damage, they found that water levels had come up two-and-a-half feet inside the building. When the deluge had receded, much of the interior was covered in six inches of mud. The force of the water had pushed a hole through the wall and knocked out several doors. The mess bordered on overwhelming.
“When we first saw it, we felt like walking away,” Chuck recalled.

Despite the massive task ahead of them, the owners’ thoughts were quickly reversed when friends and strangers began turning out to volunteer for cleanup efforts.
“So many people came and offered to help. If they’re willing to help you, you’ve got to help yourself,” Chuck noted.

Started quickly
The work to clean the building and its vast array of antiques and other items from the auction and shop began the day after the flood. The task was staggering, but the owners, friends, family and countless community members pitched in to assist. Progress was slow but steady and by mid-May, the shop doors were reopened and the first auction was held.

Chuck said that flood relief grants have also been instrumental in helping to get the business back on its feet.

“We have a lot fixed, but we’ve got more cleaning to do and a lot more merchandise to do something with. We’ve applied for another grant. If we get it, we’re going paint the outside of the building,” Chuck noted.

As the cleanup continued, it became apparent that many of items in the auction and market space could not be salvaged.

“We had so much inventory spoiled and we didn’t have any insurance,” Chuck explained.
Fortunately, he said that nearly all of the people who had items at the shop were very sympathetic regarding the situation and they have been working cooperatively with the owners.
“People lost a lot of stuff and they’ve been so understanding,” he pointed out.
Despite the huge amount of losses and the devastation caused by the flood, Chuck and Roger have discovered a silver lining in the situation.

When it became clear that their auction business would be out of commission for an extended period, they began a formal affiliation with Fisk Auction in Andes.

“We had worked together a few times and they (Roxanne and Lee Liddle) said we could use their auction facility. They eventually asked me to become their auctioneer,” Chuck recalled.

Multiple benefits
The pairing has been a boost for both businesses.
“When people consign, it’s like having two auctioneers working for them,” he noted. “We each have our own clientele and we all benefit.”

McIntosh Auction will continue to hold auctions in Margaretville and will work with Fisk Auction in Andes on regular auctions and specialty sales — including an antique vehicle auction planned in July.

The cooperative venture with Fisk Auction has also led to the McIntoshes looking to branch out in other areas. This spring, Maple Shade Farm of Delhi opened a market in a portion of the McIntosh facility. The market offers a wide variety of local produce, meats, ice cream and similar regional products.

Another new addition at the location is Pepacton Paddles, a business offering rentals and washing boats for recreational use on the Pepacton Reservoir.

Garden business grows
In addition, Fair Street Gardens has been sharing space at the market for several years, selling shrubs, plants and other nursery items. That business, owned by Paul and Stacey Scudder, has continued to grow and the offerings have been expanded substantially.
Chuck said that having many shops at the location creates more of an enticement for visitors to stop by and check out the offerings.

“We want to have more people come in here with little shops. We’d love to have the place to look like a Cracker Barrel store — kind of like a mini-mall with a food court,” he explained.
McIntosh Auction was established more than three decades ago in Bovina Center and
moved to Margaretville in 2003, where a companion market was started consignmentThe wrath of nature last summer turned many local businesses upside down, but Chuck and Roger are resigned to emerging from the tragedy with a stronger business model.

“It’s hard to start over when you’re 67. But, we are and we’re going to change our MO. We eventually want to make it so that people can stop in and shop and have a snack. We want to make it a gathering place. That’s what we’re looking for,” Chuck revealed.