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story.lead_photo.caption Keith Jeffries holds his auctioneer license that he obtained from Missouri Auction School the day after his 20th birthday. Jeffries has worked in the business for 36 years, and Jeffries & Smart Auction Service will host its final auction at 10 a.m. Saturday at 3501 County Road 328. Photo by Quinn Wilson / Fulton Sun.

After 35 years, Jeffries & Smart Auction Service will hold its final auction Saturday.

Co-founder and auctioneer Keith Jeffries said he will be retiring from the auctioneer business after being a part of it for 36 years. He said he will sell his equipment to his business partner, John Smart.

"I guess it's just time (to retire). I've got grandkids and it's time to fool with them and go fishing," Jeffries said.

Jeffries attended Missouri Auction School where he obtained his auctioneer license the day after his 20th birthday. He said after he was laid off by the Callaway Energy Center, he decided to pursue auctioneering, which he always thought was "cool."

"It's kind of a funny story (of how I came into auctioneering). My brother was in the armed services and he came home one weekend on leave, and he was either singing a song or chanting like an auctioneer and I thought, 'That's kind of cool, I think I can do that.' And that's how it started," Jeffries said.

Jeffries said, in his more than three decades of auctioneering, he has seen "quite a bit" of change in the industry. Specifically, he said antiques don't sell nowadays as well as they used to.

"The newer generation doesn't seem like they like (antiques) as much as us guys. (Young people) seem to want to go somewhere and buy their whole house for $500 a month rather than buy a dresser," he said.

Despite these changes, Jeffries firmly believes the auctioneering business is here to stay for years to come. He cited the constant demand for auctions as the reason for his certainty.

"You still have a good percentage of people that like the public auction. If you ever come to an auction, it's sort of like a community gathering; people come together, they eat lunch and of course they're buying, but most of them are visiting with each other," Jeffries said.

Throughout his career, Jeffries asserts he has sold everything from "thimbles to irrigation center pivots." He said, if he piled up everything his company has sold over the last 35 years, there isn't a warehouse in the area that could hold it all.

"We sold a blanket years ago that was made in the 1700s that had the year hand-sewn into it," Jeffries said, describing one of the most unique items he had auctioned off.

Jeffries recalled Jeffries & Smart Auction Service's first auction took place in 1984 in New Bloomfield. It was household sale for the Jones family. He said he and Smart bought their own public address system and equipment and "made it happen."

Jeffries said "being with the people" has been his favorite part about working as an auctioneer. He described this as being an aspect of the work he will miss the most.

However, Jeffries is looking forward to having more time to enjoy family gatherings after retiring. He said time was the largest challenge he faced in his career.

"If you think about it, I've given up birthday parties. I even missed my own mother and father-in-law's 50th wedding anniversary because we had an auction that day. You miss a lot," he said.

Jeffries also said auctioneering presented a personal challenge to him. He said, when he is selling people's stuff they've collected for 60 years, he is fully aware of how dependent on the money they are to help them carry on into their retirement. He said, "We've got to get the most money for them" was always stuck in the back of his mind.

Jeffries & Smart Auction Service's final auction will be a home auction taking place at 10 a.m this Saturday at 3501 County Road 328.

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